A very slow-burn, second-chance fauxmance
The No Kiss Contract, her second novel after a promising debut (now a Lammy winner!), confirms that Nan Campbell is an author to watch out for. If you’re into very slow burn, second-chance, and fauxmance, this is for you.
Fifteen years ago, Davy and Anna were each other’s first kiss but the circumstances in which they met and that led to said kiss are uncommon, to say the least. Davy’s father and Anna’s mother dated for a while and the two girls spent one precious summer together. What’s left today of these relationships is a teenager with an absent father, two half-sisters who can’t get along, loads of guilt and hurt feelings. Yet when, on her quest to become a name partner at her law firm, Davy needs to show she’s family-oriented, she talks Anna, in need of a new place for herself and her young son, into a pretend relationship that will bring all the feelings back to the surface.
First things first, there’s nothing awkward or unhealthy about Davy and Anna falling for each other. They’re not siblings, they weren’t raised together, they knew each other for a couple of months as teenagers and had no idea at the time that they would share a half-sister. They’re practically strangers who vaguely knew each other as kids.
One is lucky to have a fantastic mother, the other cursed with an unloving and manipulative father. The former is an artist and kinda broke, the other is an extremely wealthy lawyer, after following in the steps of the aforementioned father, in the hope that someday she’ll be worthy of his love. Davy’s wealth allows her to give Anna and her child whatever they need or want, but she never uses that power to control them (unlike her father). On the other hand, Anna knows what love is in a way Davy has never experienced, and she can help Davy both with her self-esteem and with her career moves. They each have something the other doesn’t and each use it to help the other, which nullifies what could have been a damaging imbalance between them.
Anna is a little too good to be true and so is her child but it didn’t bother me too much. There’s always a measure of suspension of disbelief in romance anyway and the story focuses on Davy’s character growth. Despite a slight slump halfway through, The No Kiss Contract is engaging and an enjoyable read. And if the ending feels a bit abrupt, there’s a free epilogue on the author’s website. 4 stars.