Romance books reviewed

Love at First Flight

Jo Watson

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Reviews: Lauren O’Connor-May

I am totally fangirling on Johannesburg author Jo Watson and trying to track down all her other books after devouring this one in a day.

The book is about a neurodivergent air traffic controller who fake dates a handsome pilot to avoid the looming barrage of “why are you still single” questions at a series of unfortunate, upcoming events.

What follows will surprise no one who has ever read a fake dating romance trope but what is surprising is the unusual, hilarious dialogue and how Watson managed to keep the fantasy aspect alive despite writing in contexts that would be completely unexotic to South African readers.

Pippa is probably one of the most interesting and funny characters I have ever read. Watson prefaced the book saying that she, like Pippa, is on the autism spectrum. Nevertheless, the author appears to have received flak for creating a neurodivergent heroine and has put up a video on her Tiktok page explaining that she is not appropriating but writing from her own experience.

The book is also full of spice and I dare anyone to not fall in love with the male romantic lead. I did, however, find it funny that not a single character experienced load shedding – but hey, it’s a fantasy.

Fangirl Down

Tessa Bailey

HarperCollins

Bailey takes the spice in this book to a level so … I don’t even have words … that it should come with a whole new warning.

I won’t go into more detail than what the author writes in her acknowledgements: “Someday this will be the first book of mine that my kid reads. Please, for the love of God, may she skip over the butt stuff.”

This book is also about a heroine that is different, or as the author calls it: “A love story, with a side of insulin.”

It is a sports romance about the irrepressible Josephine who has been the loyalist fangirl of pro-golfer, Wells, even though his career has a hangover – literally and figuratively.

When Wells, in a fit of self-loathing, hurls abuse at Josephine, she finally resigns as the lone member of his fan club.

Later, a contrite Wells seeks her out only to find that a hurricane has upended her already devastated life. He offers her a job as his caddy and when the pair are thrust in continued proximity, the fandom quickly turns into a fling.

This book is full of funny but also lots of other stuff that made me shudder. It is not for the faint-hearted.