My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received an ARC of “Queen of First Dates” from the author in exchange for my honest review of the story. Well, this is my first Jaimie Case story, so I was really excited to see what she had to offer. What can I say about it? Hmm…let’s see.
Julia or Jules is 26 years old and has a long-standing crush on her best friend’s older brother, Nolan, who was 29. Nolan was actually her first kiss when she was a high school freshman, and there were flashbacks within the story to show that there was some element of magic between them. Things didn’t progress from them back then because they had some sort of cat-and-dog vibes between them.
Fast forward to the present, Jules is now working as a reporter for the local paper and has been assigned to work on a series of articles focused on dating. There’s a catch, though. Jules had to go on those dates herself – 30 dates over 30 days – with Nolan shadowing her to document the dates on video. Despite Jules telling herself and her friends that she’s long gotten over her crush on Nolan, it’s obvious the chemistry is still there. How will Jules go on 30 dates with Nolan present on each one of them without things getting out of control between them?
That’s basically the premise of the story. It’s actually short, less than 300 pages, but it could have been longer. I honestly think if it were longer, the story wouldn’t have felt rushed after 75% into the book. The author could have explored the story between Jules and Nolan a bit more especially since the story had all the elements I enjoy in a book – slow burn, friend-to-lovers/frenemies-to-lovers, humor, quirky banters, etc. – it was also a second chance romance, which always seems to get me somehow. Oh, and how could I forget the Jane Austen references coming from Nolan himself? There was also some sort of secret admirer element thrown into the mix, by the way.
However, I found Jules somewhat annoying because for a 26-year-old, she actually thinks and talks like a teenager! It literally reminded me of that Lizzy Maguire cartoon that pops out of nowhere and spews random stuff and thoughts. That’s what was on mind every time I “read” Jules’ mind.
It’s like she got so consumed by her crush on Nolan that bloomed when she was a teener that she somehow forgot to move forward mentally. Am I being too harsh? Honest, yes, harsh, I hope not. I would have loved to see Jules’ character develop into someone strong given the things she went through with Nolan throughout the course of their “friendship”.
Was She Really the Queen of First Dates?
There were some elements in the book that would have been better if left out of the plot; then the author might have been able to develop the story further. Even the physical interactions between Jules and Nolan seemed rushed and open-ended, for lack of a better word. Moreover, only one of the 30 dates was featured, so there was no resolution as to the “experimental” article series. It would have been nice if snippets of the 30 dates were included (view spoiler)[(with a certain someone resorting to funny tricks to sabotage the dates because of “jealousy”) (hide spoiler)]. Plus, it would have driven home the point of the novel’s title – Queen of First Dates – because, hello? Who wouldn’t be a dating queen after 30 straight dates, right?
It was a cute, fun story overall. It wasn’t boring, but it felt rushed. It could have been better as it has lots of potential, but I am not really sure why Jaimie Case didn’t explore those potentials. Anyway, I still enjoyed the book and would definitely be watching out for more from this writer.