Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
When you love a particular rom-com writer, you enter his/her books wanting an escape. You expect laughs, lots of witty banter, swoony moments, some decidedly awkward moments, and a hit of angst necessary for the most benevolent of happy endings. Entering Amy Daws’s newest book, Take A Number, you receive all of those PLUS the added bonus of more of her Boulder crew, immortalized in books such as Wait for Me, Next in Line, and One Moment Please. There is a thread that runs through each of these books: Dean. The male best friend to Kate, the hero of Daws’s first book of this series of standalones, and Lynsey, the heroine of the third book. Dean is a character: an IPA-pushing, stoic yet snarky, a genius of investment, and honorary shoulder to cry on. A commitment-phobe, Dean prefers easy, unattachable hook-ups. He’s the requisite f-boy, the one whom his friends hope will find his own happily-ever-after. Going into Take A Number, it’s hard to determine if Dean will find his match, the one person who will turn his head and open his heart.
Enter Norah. The queen of the croinut. An independent bakery owner who has dreams for a franchise, a strong sense of herself, and a woman not interested in relationships, Norah also has a domineering mother who is more interested in her daughter marrying and bearing her grandchildren than her driven, industrious plans for entrepreneurship. With family celebrations in the future and a wedding to attend for Dean, these two enter a “fake” relationship to keep their friends and family members at bay from setting them up. What do you get when you mix an independent, enterprising heroine with a commitment-phobe, “come what may”- spirited, metrosexual hero? Rom-com dynamite.
Yes. Daws’s Take A Number has all the inner workings for a replete rom-com. From Dean and Norah’s witty banter to Norah’s persistent lip sweat to Dean’s insistent adoration of IPAs, his bean bag chairs, and his tater tot casserole, these two are a dream team for rom-com readers. I am a personal fan of the fake relationship trope. Add to that a chemistry between the hero and heroine that borders on enemies to lovers (that isn’t entirely the case with Dean and Norah because their banter is some of the exciting parts of this book), and you have a veritable goldmine of rom-com gold.
With that comes, zany, demonstrative friends who want you (Dean) to find the love of your life because they found there’s, an over-the-top combined bachelor/bachelorette weekend, a mother who doesn’t know when to stop being Meddy McMeddlesome, and more lip sweat than you know what to do with. Each turn of the page presented the magic of Norah and Dean’s journey.
However, for me, the piece de resistance is Dean. To be completely honest, at first sight, Dean is not exactly the most swarthy of rom-com heroes. He loves to characterize Norah’s childhood friend, Nate, as a Douchey McDouchepants, but the reality is Dean is one himself. He is an f-boy, and his initial dealings with Norah are blatant claims for sexual harassment. Yet, through all of that, you know there is more to Dean. And it’s his duality of persona that is the depth of Daws’s story. Dean is like the croinuts of Norah’s bakery. That symbol of that bakery item feels very intentional in light of Dean’s characterization. One part of a croinut is flaky while the other is molten depths of a donut. And Dean is the same. The carefully constructed facade of Dean obviously is hiding something. To find that treasure out, you MUST read this book because it will absolutely endear him to you even when you want to punch him in the face. That made him the most interesting aspect of Take A Number. Since I had read the earlier books in the series of standalones, I knew that Dean’s book would be a favorite because Dean encapsulates my favorite type of hero.
However, to know that truth, you need to grab Take A Number. You don’t need to read the first three books to understand this one, although it’s fun to see the characters of the other books in Dean and Norah’s. But right now, reading this book will provide a respite from your mostly stay-at-home lives and remind you that rom-com is the best medicine of what ails you.
In love and romance,