Overall Grade: 5 ++ ⭐️
I’ve just finished Penny Reid’s Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend, aka TTTSYB (for purposes of this review), and I don’t have the words to properly urge you to read this book. Forgive me if this review reads all over the place, but frankly, there is much to unpack from TTTSYB.
Here are the big messages:
Women in STEM is crucial. It feels like an imperative movement that should have more focus than brilliant stories such as Penny Reid’s book. Yes, I know adept researchers are writing on this topic, and we hear echoes of this message in our society. Yet, Reid underscores it in her story in a way that makes you realize the movement needs more heft to it. There is a moment in this story when Winnie speaks with a reporter that melts your heart. I’m an educator, so maybe that moment is more profound for me as the reporter shows Winnie the gravity of her “mission” in life as an educator. I’m not sure, but it’s one of the moments of this story that sticks to my ribs…and that’s important.
What is normal? Accepting people as they are is necessary. Both her MMC, Byron, and FMC, Winnie, process life in different ways. For much of the story, Byron believes he’s “broken” or “weird” (thanks to his DA roommate, Jeff…gah, we HATE Jeff). However, Winnie helps Bryon see that he’s just different, not less than. And that message is hard to accept but necessary to hear. Similarly, Winnie’s past, one tainted by the harsh criticisms of an uncle, has also influenced her choices in the present. Her friend, Amelia, and Byron both work to help her understand that she can be herself and be loved too. Her discussions with both of them made me cry as I recognized her pain.
My favorite line of the book: “Only the brave love.” This is the crux of the romance portion of TTTSYB. This nugget hits at 83% after Winnie and Byron have tussled through their attractions, lusts, and interests in each other. In other words, this book baby is a TRUE slow burn, which I love for Winnie and Byron…and for the romance world in general. There is hate to love here; there are elements of insta-love in TTTSYB; and there is slow, slow burn. And I loved every moment of it. If you are someone who loves large helpings of eroticism with your romance, this isn’t it. If you love a romance with perfect edges, it’s not here. For me, Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend is Penny Reid’s most real romance, and it’s messy, insightful, challenging, heartrending, and Winnie and Byron feel like almost her purest (not in a $exual sense) couple characterization.
And I’m so not okay after reading this book. Fiction imitates life, or at least the best of it should. I’m sure I shouldn’t share this here, but I need readers to understand that aspects of this book replicate my life. But where Winnie and Byron, with aplomb, I might add, have communicated and worked through their issues, my issues are still a mess. So as I was reading TTTSYB, it was like looking at one’s reflection in a mirror when you look hungover, with disheveled hair, bags under your eyes, etc. There is pain in it, but there is hope that you’ll clean yourself up and live another day. My husband holds aspects of Byron, and I, like Winnie, am a people pleaser to a detriment, never wanting to make waves. Unlike Byron, however, my husband is not self-aware, so even though he learned a few years ago that is probably on the spectrum, he has never looked inward to consider that. And as you can imagine, it has changed our marriage. I’ve acted as a buffer, peacemaker, and glue in our household for most of our married life, and I’ve resented it. So the pain of TTTSYB is its hope because life, for me, at times, feels hopeless. Yet, that hope is also a promise of sorts. This is why trying to write this review feels heady for me. I love this book and feel emotionally entangled in it.
So there’s that. By my estimation, Penny Reid, especially after Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend, is a genius. I love her passion for storytelling which is evident on the pages of her stories. Her ideas seem insistent, and she takes her time in gifting us with them. I love that because when I turn to the first page of her book there is the promise that her story will change me. And while I don’t think TTTSYB has done that, I do think it’s allowed me to dream about a better future for myself.
In love and romance,