Dating By The Book

I am on a romance reading kick right now due to my reading group studying the genre so I was looking forward to reading this book based on the good reviews and the description: a romance set in a bookstore with literacy references and romance heroes straight from novels.  However, this book really didn’t live up to my expectations despite it having some really good characters and being pretty well written.

After being left at the alter 6 months ago, Maddie returns home to the small town she grew up in to run the bookstore she spent her childhood reading in.  She is also a first time author and her book is about to be published. While she reflects on what went wrong with her fiancé, she is drawn to three different men in town.  Charlie, a professor who spends his days sitting in her store, Dylan, her high school boyfriend and rising rock star, and Max, her best friend’s brother and onetime reading buddy.   Are any of these the romance hero she has been looking for?  And what about “Silver Fox,” the reviewer who she trades barbs with online over her new book?  Can she find her happily ever after?

Things I Liked:

The writing was clever and easy to read.  I enjoyed Marlowe’s witty banter between the characters and her vast knowledge of literary characters.  I really enjoyed her comparison of Max, Dylan, Peter, and Charlie to the likes of Rochester and Darcy.  If you like classic novels, you will love the amount of references this book has—they really made the book fun to read. I also discovered that I really like when characters make connections over writing, as Silver Fox and Maddie did through email and Twitter messages.  I think it gives the romance more depth when people fall in love before meeting and it reminded me of all those classic romances that Maddie spends her time reading.

The male characters were entertaining and given depth I didn’t except, given that there are so many of them.  Even the ones that only had a few pages here and there were interesting.  I especially liked Max and his friendship with Maddie.  I thought it was believable that the two would be friends for so long and bought the evolution of their relationship.

Things I Didn’t Like:

MADDIE.  I found her to be annoying, naïve, and clearly unaware that her ex-fiancé was emotionally abusive to her.    Even when people in town, who she had known her whole life, and good friends told her about his actions after the break up, she still contemplated getting back together with him. Not only that, she actually tries to figure out what she did wrong to bring about the breakup.  I couldn’t stand it.  I was done with this storyline about 10 pages in.

The “meh” nature of the romance.  I appreciate that Marlowe tried to trick the readers into the true identity of Silver Fox but once revealed, the romance didn’t wow me.  I had a hard time believing that Maddie’s feelings would change so quickly when she spent so much of the book going back and forth over her feelings for her ex-fiancé.  I just didn’t buy the relationship in the end which was disappointing because I liked so many of the potential partners.


I had high hopes for this book but it ultimately fell flat for me.  I really liked the literary references and the characters that inhabited the town but didn’t like the main character which led to my disappointment. I did like the writing however, so I would pick up another title by the author.

P.S.  The cover to this book is terrible and not at all reflective of the content.  I have to wonder what the publisher was thinking.

*I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Author:  Mary Ann Marlowe

Published:  June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

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