Four stars

THE PLOT: ‘Until I Met You’ by Amber Rose Gill (co-written by Nadine Gonzalez) is a beachy romance. Samantha Roberts has just been dumped and is flying solo to her best friends’ wedding in Tobago. Luckily, Samantha has the rest of the bridesmaids to buoy her up. Yet they’re all in couples and, without her plus one, Sam’s the odd girl out. Fortunately, the groom’s best friend is able to cheer her spirits and they embark on a little holiday romance. But is Samantha’s tropical fling more serious than she’s willing to let on? As secrets are revealed each of the relationships in the friendship group is put to the test.

RATING:  I’m not usually a beach romance kind of girl, but this book was delightful which is why I’m giving it four stars. Easy to read and with quick pacing, the twists and turns had me devouring this novel in record time. While I read this in London during the heatwave, it’d be a great one to take on your next holiday. With great supporting characters (each with their own subplots) and an emphasis on friendship, this felt like a well-rounded and engaging book.

GOOD BITS: My main gripe with romance is that I hate when the barriers to the characters’ falling in love seem contrived. However, this book impressed me because there were lots of realistic internal and external hurdles that got in the way of the happily-ever-after. Coupled with strong pacing and a good cast of supporting characters with their own sub-plots, this book retained my interest throughout. I also liked that Samantha was a strong, Black protagonist, and her love interest Roman felt sexy yet neither of them were overly sentimental or cringe. Even the steamy scenes were well-written (don’t worry, they’re not too graphic) and got me hot under the collar.

NOT SO GOOD BITS: A few separate criticisms. Firstly, the opening chapters contained a lot of backstory, which felt like info-dumps. Secondly, the main character has an ambition to run her own travel blog and while I loved the inclusions of mixed-media, the whole process felt unnatural. I don’t think the author has had much experience running a blog because the way the character was drafting posts didn’t make sense. Finally, mentions of the pandemic felt shoe-horned in. Whether to mention COVID-19 must’ve been a difficult editorial choice but I think including it was unnecessary. If they really wanted to set the novel post-pandemic, it would’ve been stronger if it was tied to Samantha’s desire to run a travel blog.

OVERALL: As I don’t read the genre much, I didn’t have tons of comparison titles. However, I’d imagine this book would suit lovers of Beth O’Leary, Emily Henry and Georgia Toffolo. A perfect summer book to sit by a pool with. Thank you to Mills & Boon for my #gifted copy.

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