I’m not going to lie, the Amazon First Reads haven’t been doing that well for me lately, but I had two left to read so I figured I’d just power through them and give it a shot. The plot for The Chemistry of Love by Sariah Wilson sounded silly—fake dating is often so messy and characters don’t act rationally—but a cheesy romantic comedy sounded fun.
How can Anna Ellis, a geeky, brilliant, and hopelessly smitten cosmetic chemist possibly win over Craig Kimball, the man of her dreams—who also happens to be her boss? The answer is Craig’s empathetic (and handsome) CEO half-brother, Marco. The makeup mogul knows Craig for the ridiculously competitive rival he is. Whatever Marco has, Craig wants. That can be Anna, if she’s game to play.
All Anna and Marco have to do is pretend they’re falling in love and let the rumours begin. If the experiment in attraction works, a jealous Craig will swoop in and give Anna her happily ever after—if it weren’t for one hitch in the plan. There’s more to Marco than meets the eye. With every fake date, Anna’s feelings are starting to become dizzyingly real.
Blame it on chemistry. It’s unpredictable, exciting, and occasionally combustible. If Anna and Marco are really falling in love, who are they to argue with science?
TW: Death of parents
I don’t know if this was simply a case of exactly the book I needed at exactly the right time, but I flew through this and read it over two nights—both times staying up way past my bedtime and regretting it the next day. I *loved* it. Was it cheesy? Yes, of course. Was it predictable? Definitely. But it was also somehow steamy without having any sex in it and laugh-out-loud funny at times. One of my favourite “light” romance stories that I’ve read in a really, really long time. Fake dating is a trope that can go very wrong, but I felt like this was as realistic as it could be and the MCs acted like real people with real feelings.
What didn’t work for me
Craig: There will probably be a spoiler or two in here, so proceed at your own risk, but part of me wished Craig was just a normal dude and not a seriously douchy guy. To me, it would have been a much stronger love story if Craig was all right, too, but simply wrong for Anna. Her crush on him was ridiculous in the beginning, yes, but I wish there was something a bit redeeming about him that would have made that crush a little less far-fetched.
What I liked
The writing: Sariah Wilson is a great writer. She knows how to make her characters jump off a page, she knows how to write spice without being vulgar or graphic, and she knows where to insert jokes to make a statement. I can’t wait to read something else of hers.
The chemistry: I’m not talking about the science here but the chemistry between the main characters. Sparks were flying and I was worried my Kindle was going to catch fire. And as a person with social anxiety and some quirks when it comes to social situations, I really enjoyed that Marco just went with it and didn’t judge her for what she needed to do.
Nerd culture: I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a nerd, but I do enjoy things that would usually be called nerdy, like video games, sci-fi, D&D and fantasy, but I liked that Wilson portrayed lots of different kinds of nerds. Not everyone was socially awkward or super into all of the nerd things—and I enjoyed that.
I was reading that some people didn’t finish this because they couldn’t get past Anna’s ridiculous crush on Craig. I promise, if you just push through it, you will be rewarded with the amazingness that is Anna and Marco. Read it.
“In case you didn’t know, the ugly ducking never had to change. She just need to figure out that she’d been a swan all along.” —Sariah Wilson, The Chemistry of Love