Claire Melbourne is a newspaper editor who lost a big story to a mistake by young intern Ellie Kirkland. After firing her for the error, they meet by chance and realise that they have some things in common, like the love for Motown music and Claire’s 1965 Mustang. Their budding relationship will have them both questioning their values and life choices. Will they have a chance together?
This book is not only a romance and an exploration of human relationships, but also a tribute to Motown music. The novel and every chapter are titled after a well known song of that era. In the author’s note, Ms. Richardson says that she grew up listening to this music and it’s part of her identity. I’m not a fan of Motown myself but I agree when the author says that this genre make people dance even to songs about heartbreak. It is such an upbeat music style. The tribute to that era is completed with a great inanimate secondary character: a 1965 red convertible Mustang.
Like a typical age-gap romance, Ms. Richardson has her older character pondering on the wisdom of getting involved with someone 16 years younger but, ‘I’m gonna make you love me’ goes beyond this. Both main characters have mother complex, low self-esteem and insecurity issues that make them well-rounded and interesting. The author slowly builds their relationship from their initial antagonism to a sizzling chemistry. Their intimate scenes are well written and Claire’s body image issues makes them even more realistic.
The secondary characters are multi-layered, specially Claire’s best friend Jackson and Ellie’s twin sister Erin. The twins are the daughters of a lesbian couple with high expectations and the reader gets invested in their search for their own identity and independent life choices. It’s good to see a lesbian couple that is not idealised in the plot; Ellie’s mothers are as flawed as they come. The fact that all the names in the family start with ‘E’ is a bit confusing and both mothers are hard to tell apart, at least at the beginning. Two very cute dogs complete the mixed cast.
The story is gripping to read not only regarding the characters’ personal struggles, but also thanks to the secondary plot that gives a glimpse into the world of investigative reporting, the role of the media and journalism ethic dilemmas. I’d say that beyond the music references, there is a bit of the author’s own experience in this book. Like Claire, Ms. Richardson was a newspaper editor and the reader can appreciate the pieces of her own professional and personal wisdom which makes the story all the more entertaining.
Overall, a very good age-gap romance that explores life choices and family relationships with a side story of investigative journalism. 4.5 stars.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.