Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lucy Score, in her endnote for By A Thread, asked reviewers to post a “gushing review” if we desire to do so. Warning: this will be that such review. As a reviewer/blogger, you find yourself, hopefully, reading any number of ARCs in a given week. For me, it’s not uncommon to read four or five a week. Oftentimes, I’ll read two at the same time, given deadlines, or if I need a break from a story that might be angsty, etc. Knowing that release day is coming on Thursday, April 23rd for Score’s By A Thread, I picked it up and began reading it while reading another ARC, thinking I would read a few chapters of it and switch to the other ARC, going back and forth between the two. What I didn’t expect was to pick up Lucy Score’s book and not be able to put it down. That Dominic and Ally’s tale would be so compelling and charming and entertaining is an understatement; I simply needed to finish the story because Lucy Score’s storytelling both challenges and beguiles me. I’ve said this in other reviews of her books: at first sight, you believe you are reading a rom-com tinged with contemporary and new adult leanings. You believe you are offered a basic genre or trope, only to be challenged in its exposition about modern-day topics.
In By A Thread, as Dominic and Ally’s romance unfolds, Score challenges our thinking about consent, socially responsible inclusive fashion, privilege, and more. Yes, their story envelopes the reader. Like Score, I love a grumpy hero and joyful heroine who can’t seem to get out of her own way. This is a rom-com dynamite pairing as they provoke each other with a $exy chemistry belying their evolution. For me, this is the initial reason to turn the page. Dom and Ally are no different. Their chemistry rockets past you, and as a reader, you hold on, hoping to keep up with them. Their dialogue, their momentary disdain for each other, all of it colludes to engulf you in By A Thread. It’s one of the main reasons I kept turning pages even though my workload is out of control. The question of their coupling drives you forward. You need these two to recognize that their pairing completes each of them. Score crafts palpable tension, authentic emotional connection, and hilarity between these two that you root for them throughout the story.
Yet, there is one more reason this story is necessary: consent. In fact, this is the essential message of this romance. In its most obvious form, Score tells us at the end of this book that she wanted to imagine a workplace romance in the world of the “#metoo” movement. In romance, where we take consent for granted sometimes, there is a keen discussion in By A Thread that acknowledges it should be a primary and essential conversation. However, the idea of consent goes beyond that obvious message. With Dominic, he needs consent to move beyond the difficulties of his upbringing. Like most of us, we carry our baggage in tons. This is Dominic’s almost fatal flaw, as he doesn’t allow himself consent to move past it. Similarly, Ally needs consent for others to help her. Her pride undermines living an abundant life. In fact, it becomes a borderline health issue. She needs to give herself consent to accept assistance. The theme of consent runs like a heavy thread through this story, and it’s the tie that binds the lighthearted parts of Score’s tale. And Score does this artfully and intentionally, which adds to her genius as a storyteller.
Like Lucy Score, I’m a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, and she litters her story with nods to that movie. Add to that the charming hate-to-love relationship between Dominic and Ally, along with an epilogue and bonus scenes that melt your heart. Even more, Score doesn’t allow the romance to fly away, ethereal in its romantic telling. Instead, she grounds it with the truths of our time and our need to be vigilant in protecting others from harm. All of these qualities conspire to bring her readers a story that leaves you feeling ebullient. Should I have graded essays and input grades? Yes. Do I regret giving my heart, soul, and time to By A Thread? Not a chance. And neither will you.
In love and romance,