Better than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Better than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Martin, Alexa. Better than Fiction. Berkley, 2022. 336 pp. ISBN 9780593337226. $17.00


This was a great back-to-back read with Summer Reading: both feature a book-loathing protagonist who fall for their complete opposite: a reader. In this case, nature photographer Drew Young is managing the book store she inherited from her Gran instead of pursuing her dreams of art and travel when bestselling romance author Jasper Williams crosses her path and decides she should be the one to show him around Denver, the setting for his work in progress. She agrees, and in return, he will trade sightseeing dates for book-related ones for each novel that he recommends and she completes. To add to the tension, Drew is struggling to keep her grandmother’s business alive–and her toxic father, who wants her to sell the business, keeps interceding to contest the will and access what he perceives as his rightful cut.

The Colorado setting is incredibly vivid, brought to life through Drew and Jasper’s eyes. Drew is lucky to have not one but two ride or dies, her half-sister Daisy who she is just getting know, and her tough, tell it like it is bestie Elsie, with more kids than I could track and another on the way. A set of elderly book club ladies are deftly drawn and leap off the page. Drew is multi-faceted and delightfully awkward and equally delightfully, Jasper not only eats it up but has a charming, not entirely serious manner of being suave in that way of cute and successful (maybe formerly nerdy) men who don’t know how hot they are: a little goofy, a little geeky, a little artless, and very endearing. Drew believes that Jasper will move on and skip town when he turns in the draft of his latest novel, but their chemistry and support of one another indicates otherwise.

The writing is clever; because Jasper writes romances and everyone except Drew reads them, there is a sort of running commentary on how the story is following romance tropes (or not). Stylistically, though, the telling instead of showing kept this from being a five-star book for me. Multiple chapters start out after some action has taken place, and describe the action in past tense, instead of putting the characters (and reader) in the moment. On the surface it looks like a rookie mistake, but given the accolades this great story has received, it somehow works. I found it frustrating because I wanted all the nitty gritty details.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #BetterThanFiction from #NetGalley.

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