Review: The Roadtrip, by Beth O'Leary
Beth O'Leary can do no wrong and I will read anything she writes, ever (book 4 is out in April 2022 and I can neither confirm nor deny if I've already pre-ordered it, but I think everybody does already know the answer to that, so let's move swiftly on). Anyway, this book is pretty close to perfect.
It's the story of Addie and Dylan, who meet one summer in Provence at the villa of their mutual friend Cherry (why don't I have friends who have hot friends and villas in Provence???? Step it UP, my friends). Fast forward two years-ish later, Dylan and Addie broke up acrimoniously and no longer speak, Cherry is getting married, and they're both on their individual ways to her wedding when their cars crash into each other and they find each other forced to carpool. Oh, dear. The book then alternates between the two separate storylines, 'then' and 'now', and we see how Dylan and Addie came together, how they fall apart, and how they find each other again.
No, that's not a spoiler. This is a second-chance romance. You know they end up together - that's why you read these types of books. Come on now.
AnyHOO, I loved just about everything about this novel. I loved that she ventured more into open-door romance than she had in her previous two novels (The Flatshare is completely closed doors, and there's actually very little stereotypical 'romance' in The Switch) and oh my god the sex was so hot and spicy and I was rooting for them so hard the entire time. The dialogue was realistic and crisp without feeling too performative and try-hardy, and the alternating POVs between Addie and Dylan gave a lot of perspective on the relationship and made it very easy to see where the miscommunications happened and how both were at fault for the way they initially fell apart.
And the cast of supporting characters is just *chef's kiss* excellent. Deb (Addie's sister) is such a wonderful, heart-warming character, with a dry sense of humor that was making me cackle every time she had a line of dialogue. Cherry (who actually reminds me a bit of one of my friends; yes, YOU, currently reading this) was so quirky and over-the-top and perfect, I'd read an entire novel just about her. I mean, she hides in the bushes on her wedding day to avoid a potential stalker, for Christ's sake. It was just comedy gold. And Marcus (Dylan's best friend) was a perfect romance novel villain: incredibly conflicted, clearly the bad guy, but impossible to entirely hate.
And ultimately I think this novel is just another illustration of what Beth O'Leary does so well as a writer: she treats a lot of heavy subjects with compassion and heart, and does such an excellent job of giving her characters the space and time to heal from those serious traumas in ways that feel hopeful and realistic without tipping into moralism or heavy-handedness or saccharine inspiration porn.
One thing I liked a bit less - the ending felt a bit rushed, and the way the traumatic event that split Dylan and Addie could have been given a bit more space and time to develop instead of being crowbarred in during the wedding scenes. But other than that, a perfect novel that I will cherish close to my heart forever and ever, and I would like everyone to stop whatever it is they are doing to read it now, please and thank you. Beth O'Leary is a national treasure and must be protected at all costs.
Can we fast forward to April 2022? So many good-looking books out in April 2022.