Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Tropes: friends to lovers; childhood friends; fake ex-boyfriend relationship; he falls first; small town romance; found family
If you love a hero who is fairly uncomplicated, a fixer, incredibly handsome, and a master in the bedroom, then Adriana Locke’s Fluke is exactly the read you need right now. Jess Carmichael falls first, loves hard, and f[bleeps] like a king. Pippa has no chance against Jess’s capacity to love her, which makes Locke’s newest Carmichael Family’s story easy to get lost in.
In terms of romance angst, there isn’t much between Jess and Pippa. The tension of Locke’s story lies in Pippa’s past and the ways it informs her ability to be loved. Locke crafts Jess in such a way he uses the depths of his tenacity to love Pippa to break down her walls. This is why it’s hard NOT to fall in love with Jess and claim him as the best Carmichael. He’s fairly uncomplicated and knows he wants Pippa from the beginning of the story. For readers looking for a more complicated love story, you won’t find it in Fluke.
Besides Pippa’s arc which lands her in the arms of Jess, the addition of the Carmichael family along with Pippa’s best friend, Kerrisa, adds the supporting network needed for Pippa to recognize what it means to feel loved. I’m certain that Locke does several things right with her stories: creating mother figures who love their children’s significant others as hard as their children and developing the found family trope in ways that heal the hurts of the heroines of her stories. This is very true for Fluke.
If I have any criticism of this book, it’s the pacing of the story. While Jess and Pippa have known each other for years, much of that past isn’t developed in the story, and Locke makes assumptions that her readers will accept the later choices of her characters. Jess comments that Pippa is Kixx’s favorite, but we only see them together once before that. I struggled with the believability of these moments. The book would have been stronger had more of the past been developed.
Finally, Fluke feels more like a vehicle for Banks’s story (Flaunt, releasing in June) than a fully fleshed-out romance for Jess and Pippa. Don’t get me wrong. Jess Carmichael is the dreamiest Carmichael brother to date. He knows how to love Pippa, and he perseveres in his pursuit of her. The way that Locke has written him brings to mind the term “swoony.”
If you’re a fan of the band of brothers meets small-town romance, you’ll want to read Fluke. Even more, I dare you NOT to fall hard for Jess Carmichael. Adriana Locke makes it an impossibility.
In love and romance,