I’ve mentioned a few times that last year, I got really into reading romance. And I read a lot of great ones. So I thought I’d take a chance on a debut romance author and read Owen Nicholls’s Love Unscripted. It sounded kind of like 500 Days of Summer, which definitely sounded intriguing.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.
Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least, that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic election. A cinema devotee and lover of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.
But now Ellie has moved out, convinced “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. The fallout from Ellie’s declaration that she “doesn’t love Nick the way she used to” throws him back into recollections of their first night together. Their shared jokes, her wry smile, the “hope” that filled the night air–his memories are as rose-colored as the Hollywood love stories he idealizes.
That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Is he really the rom-com hero he believes he’s been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, like what we see in the movies.
I’ll just say it: I don’t think every romance needs a happily ever after. Love, Unscripted doesn’t have one, and I actually found it kind of refreshing (I have read a few reviews by readers who were mad about it, though). Unfortunately, that was really the only thing I liked about this book. And I’m sad about it, because I really wanted to like this.
My main complaint about this book was that it was just SO SLOW. I pick up romance books because they’re usually fun, quick reads. But I struggled with this one. I felt like this book could have benefited from being edited down a little bit – it’s only a little bit longer than most romance books I’ve read, but it dragged. I think the movie references might have been a little bit overkill (I come from a big family of movie buffs, and I there were so many that went over my head).
It’s also a challenge to read a romance and root for characters you don’t care about. And I really didn’t care about these characters. Nick was kind of annoying, and Ellie was just meh. Even the side characters were often cringe-worthy (way too much time was spent on the obnoxious libertarian Tom).
I really struggled to get through this book. The pacing didn’t work for me, I didn’t really like the characters, and the story wasn’t enough to redeem it.
★★☆☆☆ – Love, Unscripted was probably my least favorite romance I’ve read in the past few years. It just wasn’t for me, unfortunately. I’m kind of disappointed (also because it’s the FOURTH 2020 release I’ve read and rated two stars – I promise I’ll review some better books soon!).
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible. (It’s narrated by Christian Coulson – aka teenage Voldemort – which, honestly, would probably have made me like this book a little more.)
This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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