One of Spangler’s best
Feeling seen is a rare and precious thing. We all carry the weight of expectations, some more than others. Emery Pembroke has to prove herself to be more than an impetuous heiress in order to take over as CEO of the family company after her father’s untimely death. Arden Gilderson has a reputation for being shy, introverted, and socially awkward, and while none of these adjectives are inaccurate, they’re far from the whole picture. And yet when Emery and Arden are together, neither feels like the person the rest of the world seems to know.
I enjoyed every second of reading this book. Sure, there are a few repetitions and a little head-hopping, but nothing big. Arden and Emery are wonderful characters and I fell in love with both. They’re extremely different from one another but share the same experience of being misunderstood and believing what others see in them to be true. And yet they’re both so much more.
With this book and its perfect title, Spangler tackles several issues many people are faced with, even those of us who aren’t as rich as the protagonists. Expectations. The shallowness of society’s way of looking without seeing and the easiness with which it contents itself with surface observation. The necessity of going beyond appearances – as someone who is often categorized as quiet, which is both accurate and reductive (there’s a reason my BFF says the Elmo fire GIF is me), that’s one I know well. The strength one feels from the right person believing in them.
Speaking of the right person, both MCs have best friends whose love I don’t doubt but who should sometimes reassess what they think they know of their friend. Theo, in particular, made me cringe several times on Emery’s behalf. I often take notes while reading and here’s what I wrote: “I have to believe Theo is well-intentioned but damn, if your BFF pigeonholes you like this, maybe rethink your friendship with them”. So yeah, not a fan, even though I understand what he was trying to do. And maybe he, too, got caught in the spiral of expectations, especially as Emery’s assistant. Luz, Arden’s best friend, is sassy and fun and overwhelming sometimes, but she very clearly has Arden’s back. I also liked Emery’s mother and hated Arden’s.
This book is definitely character-driven, which works perfectly for me. I found the tension delightful and while I almost always enjoy Spangler’s books, I usually associate this kind of tension with their sports romance. No sports here, no real angst either, but tension all the same. The best kind.
Also, keep your eyes open for the section dividers. Just saying. 4.5 stars.