TITLE: The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition: 329 pages
Published: April 12th 2022 by Berkley
Blurb: Joy is in love with Malcolm. But Malcolm really likes Summer.
Summer is in love with love. And Fox is Summer’s ex-boyfriend.
Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.
Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?
A solid story for a different love journey
I really enjoy romance books where I also learn. Joy was a character that was just honest, clear and intentional…except about voicing her feelings to the person she has loved for 10 years, her boss Malcolm. Joy and Malcolm met at college and both identify as asexual but it is expressed differently.
I’ve read asexual romances before but this one was the most informative. A medical definition of “Asexual people” or “aces,” is people who often identify somewhere on a spectrum that includes their emotional, spiritual and romantic attraction to other people. A main characteristic is that they generally do not experience sexual attraction.
In this book, Malcolm and Joy meet a potential partner but have a hard time figuring out how to balance their best friend co-dependence with a romantic partner. The issue of boundaries is apparently hard for Joy and Malcolm. The author didn’t address this but I suspect that Joy may have been neuro-divergent as well. She has some signs such as awkward communications, awkward social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.
So when Malcolm’s new girlfriend Summer, brings her friend Fox to distract Joy, Joy and Fox decided to make Malcom jealous by faking an attraction.
I don’t want to give the plot away but it was really interesting watching Joy process flirting, touching, attraction etc with Fox. It was a slow read but the author did an awesome job with character development. I felt like I had a good grasp on Malcom, Joy, Summer and Fox. This book wasn’t full of romantic gestures in the traditional sense, but it was ordinary normal things like movie nights or baking that made for sweet moments.
This story really opened my eyes regarding aces especially with a woman of color. Really good read!