Say hello to one of my favorite books of 2020, How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams, a sexy, charming romantic comedy that also packs an emotional punch.
When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.
Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.
Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.
I loved everything about this book. I couldn’t read it fast enough — simply needing to spend more time with these characters, and wanting to know what would happen next — and yet, when it was over, I wasn’t ready to say good bye; I wanted to continue living in this world.
Romance has a reputation for being “predictable” — ie, we know that the characters will have a happy ending, because that’s the very definition of the genre. And yet, for all its use of beloved tropes, How to Fail at Flirting kept me on my toes. Everytime I thought I’d guessed the upcoming “twist,” I was proven wrong. I found myself delightfully, constantly surprised by the twists and turns this book took — and I loved every minute of it!
And for all its light-hearted humor and steamy romance, this book carries some weight. Because while she is rediscovering herself and falling in love with Jake, Naya is also still reeling from the damage done by her abusive ex. All of the elements felt so perfectly balanced, though. Romantic comedy and sexy love scenes; beautiful friendships, a wonderful blossoming relationship, the struggles of an academic career; consequences of escaping an abusive relationship. Williams finds a way to fit all this pieces together so wonderfully, and the result is a book that truly knocked my socks off. Definitely one of my top reads of the year, look for How to Fail at Flirting in stores on December 1st.