Why did I choose to read this book?
I have been a Jasmine Guillory fan since day one with The Wedding Date. I’ve read all of her other books since then and while there have been a few that I didn’t like, in general Guillory offers a guaranteed escape from reality with good food and good romance. Ordering While We Were Dating was a no brainer.
What is notable about the story?
While We Were Dating tackles both the “don’t date someone you work with” quandry as well as body positivity and mental health (anxiety) issues. I appreciated how Anna’s larger body was treated with respect throughout, with only the slightest hint at prior mistreatment and judgment. Her loss of control in her acting career feeding into her anxieties was something I really identified with, especially now during the pandemic. Feeling anxious about things I can’t control at work (no mask mandates, no vaccine requirements, etc) is a feeling I am all too familiar with. Other than Anna being a famous actress, this story and its characters have a lot of elements that will make them relatable to a large audience.
Was anything not so great?
Something about Guillory’s writing that has always grated at me (but not enough to stop reading) is the feeling that the characters are constantly talking to themselves like a kindergartner telling their parents all about what they saw and did at school that day. The sentences are short, and if you took away the periods and made it “, and then…” it would be in the same rhythm. As a reader, that always tickles my brain as immature, or something purposefully trying to hit the lowest common denominator, but I guess I could also read it as an attempt to be as accessible to everyone regardless of reading level. Either way, the style of the writing always rubs me the wrong way, but again, I’m splitting hairs here because I still read the whole book so it must not have been that bad.
I also didn’t care for the fact that Anna seemed to not have any friends other than one character named Penny that she only texts and talks on the phone with, who meets with her in person only once in the whole story. Her manager Simon walked all over her until having a moment of empathy at the very end. She seemed very isolated and alone, which could have put her in a prime situation for being taken advantage of, but that never comes up or is addressed. I’m not saying it had to be, but I wish that Anna had more connections than her parents, her brother, and ONE friend she could talk to.
What’s the verdict?
I gave While We Were Dating 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because it never really pulled me all the way in (lost one star). It lost the other star because I felt like it was missing the luxurious food content that her other books had in spades. Overall I still liked it, and if you enjoy romance you will too. If you haven’t added Guillory to your romance shelf, you are missing out.
(If you’re new to Jasmine Guillory you can pick up any of her books and read them without having read them in order, just know that they are all interconnected and some number degrees of separation connecting back to the original couple in The Wedding Date.)
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