My Year of Saying No by Maxine Morrey

My Year of Saying No Cover

Quirky, British, G-rated, friends-to-lovers, romantic comedy

My Year of Saying No by Maxine Morrey

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: April 16, 2020
Pages: 548 pages
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Source: NetGalley ARC
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Lottie Wentworth, an extreme introvert in her early 30s, has been reluctantly dragged in the exciting wake of her firecracker of a BFF, Jess, since they first met at the tender age of four. She’s just completed, with enormous relief, a year of saying, yes, to every sort of oddball adventure Jess could come up with for them to do together. Jess’s purpose was to cheer up Lottie after a 7-year, live-in relationship, with a man she’d assumed she’d eventually marry, fizzled out. But as it turned out, Jess was the one who got the most out of their yes-year, because she has found the love of her life, handsome, kind, and extremely rich Harry, and they are ecstatically engaged. Poor Lottie mainly got overloaded and exhausted.

But now it’s the start of a brand new year, and Lottie figures she has had enough of Jess’s idea of cheer. All she wants to do for the upcoming year is say, no, to any request that she doesn’t want to do.

For the past two years, Lottie has been self-employed as a virtual assistant to multiple small business owners, working comfortably from home clad in her cozy pajamas. She insists to Jess that the only new companion she wants in her life during this coming year is the dog she is determined to adopt from the local animal shelter.

She also comfortably fends off loneliness by means of a close friendship she maintains via Skype with her first and best client, wounded Army veteran, Seb Marshall, who is of a similar age to Lottie. He lives 2 hours away, and Lottie has never met him in person. With her talented assistance, Seb has successfully launched and continued to grow a charity for veterans. A day doesn’t go by that they don’t talk to each other, and it is never just about business. They have shared all aspects of their lives with each other, as much as, and even more so in some instances, than she has ever shared with Jess.

From the moment she saw Seb’s handsome face on her computer screen in their initial meeting, Lottie has had a crush on him. But during the first year of her crush, she was with her ex-boyfriend, and during the past year, Jess sent her on one uncomfortable blind date after another, and Seb has never asked her out.

Not that she would go out with him if by some miracle he did ask her. He is her most important client, whose fees pay her rent. She wouldn’t dare take the chance of harming that relationship or the friendship they have formed by bringing romance into the equation.

But once Lottie embarks on her year of saying, no, major changes ensue. Not only in Lottie, but in the significant people in her life. Most importantly, Seb. To the point that, out of the blue, Seb asks if they could finally meet each other in person. And even though she worries that taking that risky step is a very bad idea, Lottie can’t find it in her palpitating heart to refuse his request.

This is a G-rated, extremely slow-burn, friends-to-lovers romance. It is so G-rated, in fact, that it reminds me of a typical Georgette Heyer, historical romance novel, written in a much more sedate era, in which the only physical contact between the romantic protagonists comes at the very end of the book, when they become engaged and share a passionate, first kiss. Jaded romance readers who are tired of overabundant sex scenes and insta-love or, worse, insta-lust substituting for romance, will find this book a delightful change.

Lottie and Seb are extremely sympathetic characters. They are both compassionate, warm, giving individuals and a very good match for each other. In addition, this novel contains a wealth of quirky subcharacters, most importantly, the doggy companions of Lottie and Seb, who are just adorable! There are also Lottie’s wonderful parents and Seb’s loving family as well, all of whom are major contributors to the story.

This book is written by a British author, and I really enjoyed the English setting and all the British slang. I frequently had to use my Kindle app’s dictionary and/or web-search function to discover the meaning of colorful British words and phrases in the book. But it was quite fun learning about those exotic-to-us-Americans expressions.

Readers who are tired of an overabundance of melodrama in romance novels will enjoy this pleasant, warm-hearted romance. It definitely kept me interested, turning page after page, unable to put the book down, as I followed the growing romance between these two very compelling protagonists and their comic struggles with their relationships with their families.

I had not encountered this author before reading this book, and I look forward to enjoying other romantic comedies by her.

Note: I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Hero: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Romance Plot: 4

Family Drama Plot: 4

British Setting: 5

Writing: 4

Overall: 4.5 rounded to 5

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