Hi friends! Today I’m coming to you with a review of “The Rom-Com Agenda” by Jayne Denker, which came out this January (I’m catching up on my reviews, be kind to me! lol).
A digital ARC of “The Rom-Com Agenda” was provided to me by St. Martin’s Press/SMP Romance via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Read on to check out the official synopsis of the book, my review, and a bit about the author!
You know how the story’s supposed to go… but love makes its own plans.
STEP 1: Find yourself
Leah Keegan is used to being alone, especially after taking care of her sick foster mother for the past year. But now there’s nothing keeping her in the sweet town of Willow Cove. It’s time to move on. Again.
STEP 2: Win back the one who got away
Eli Masterson thought he and Victoria were meant to be together until she decided to jet off to Rome for a year. Eli is determined to win her back. But how?
STEP 3: Become a romantic hero
Changing Eli’s physical appearance is easy, but to turn Eli into the sophisticated-yet-vulnerable ideal man, his girl pals force him to watch classic rom-coms. And take notes.
STEP 4: Fall in love?
Inadvertently drawn into the makeover scheme, Leah ends up being Eli’s guide through the wild world of meet-cutes and grand gestures. Even though she believes Eli doesn’t need to change a thing about himself. Even though she just might be falling for Eli . . . and Eli falling for her.
“The Rom-Com Agenda” was such a cute and quick read! I went into this one totally blind, having completely forgotten the summary I read months and months ago when it came through my inbox, and was pleasantly surprised.
If there’s anything that will pull me into a book, it’s a pop culture reference and this one is chocked full of them. One of our main characters, Eli, is determined to get back his ex-girlfriend who turned down his proposal and went off to Rome for a year, so he agrees to let his sister and their friends give him a makeover both inside and out. Part of the makeover scheme entails taking notes on classic rom coms and their leading men (side note: the author completely points out the heteronormativity of the rom com list that gets written and it was brilliant). Classic rom coms? Say less. I am all in.
Another reference that is so small but actually made me laugh out loud and very excited was a “Gilmore Girls” reference (if you must know absolutely anything about me, it needs to be how much I love “Gilmore Girls”). Our other main character, Leah, is compared to Kirk from the show by Eli because she has multiple jobs. (I actually lost count by the end of the book how many Leah has.) Leah and Eli then have some banter about how he absolutely positively has not watched “Gilmore Girls” and it was 100% his sister that was into it… Oh, Eli. As if I couldn’t love him any more.
Pop culture references aside, although it is very central to the plot and our characters, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Leah and Eli’s characters. I thought they were very realistic, which sometimes isn’t the case with rom coms. Sometimes our main love interests are the sort of people you’d only find on page, but I felt like they were firmly planted in the real world and I could easily know them in my every day life.
The side characters are sort of where we get our classic quirky rom com cast, but I loved them no less. In fact, I’m optimistic we will see at least one companion novel, maybe a few. I love a found family trope and this family was such a joy to read.
Now, my biggest issue with the book comes from something that drives some–okay, most–of the plot and that is Eli’s need to change himself to get back his ex-girlfriend, Victoria, who 1.) turned down his marriage proposal because he proposed after 4 months and she didn’t realize he was serious about their relationship, and 2.) left the country for a year and ignored his texts and calls. There is a lot more about the situation and dynamic between Victoria and Eli that we learn, and ultimately I am very happy with where it ends, but my gosh. I had to completely suspend disbelief and just accept that this was something that was happening.
For Eli to continuously pine after this woman who clearly doesn’t want to be married or be with him was frustrating. Not only that, every one of his friends told him he needed to move on from her, but he wouldn’t listen so they decided to then support this makeover scheme? A mess.
I liked everything about the book except for this, so I had to ignore the initial reason Leah enters Eli and his family and friends’ lives. Which is a difficult thing to do when it goes on for 75% of the book and is the very reason behind you rooting for the two of them to be together. It’s very convoluted and frustrating. But, in the end, I’d say worth it. It’s a sweet and happy ending, exactly what I expect from a rom com.
★★★☆☆ = 3/5 stars
About The Author
Jayne Denker is the author of romantic comedies. When she’s not hard at work on another novel (or, rather, when she should be hard at work on another novel), she can usually be found frittering away stupid amounts of time on social media. Check in with her on Facebook (“Jayne Denker Author”), Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor), Instagram (@JayneDenkerAuthor), or her blog, jaynedenker.com.