Series: Say Everything #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on 2nd March 2021
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Everyone knows Miz Poppy, the vibrant reviewer whose commentary brightens the New Orleans nightlife. But no one knows Hollyn, the real face behind the media star...or the fear that keeps her isolated. When her boss tells her she needs to add video to her blog or lose her job, she's forced to rely on an unexpected source to help her face her fears.
When aspiring actor Jasper Deares finds out the shy woman who orders coffee every day is actually Miz Poppy, he realizes he has a golden opportunity to get the media attention his acting career needs. All he has to do is help Hollyn come out of her shell…and through their growing connection, finally find her voice.
It takes a while getting used to Roni Loren’s style of writing – effusive, word, sometimes overly dramatic – as ‘Yes & I Love You’ starts off with some deliberate (if imagined) flair of the painfully introverted Hollyn and the easy misunderstandings she gets into because of the little-understood Tourette Syndrome that she suffers from.
Count me amongst the ignorant.
Loren navigates disability and how some people fall by the wayside in a story that’s done sensitively and with aplomb, where her main characters still walk around with swagger and sass, handling life the best way they can…while finding love along the way. Their challenges are detailed but not weighed down with angst, their behaviour mature and perceptive enough that I knew by the halfway point that I wanted both Hollyn/Jasper to succeed together.
In short, ‘Yes & I Love You’ grew on me by leaps and bounds, even if it started out a little hard. From their rocky start to a steamy finish, Hollyn/Jasper somehow roll their way through this with the likes of improv theatre, where the principles are merely saying ‘yes’ to hard things, and then powering forward with the plays you’ve got. Life mirroring art and vice versa: it’s a lovely parallel that Loren sets up throughout the narrative as her own meta about improvisation and life spills out from time to time in a way that hits both Jasper and Hollyn where it matters most.
But Loren sets up a hurdle that neither Jasper nor Hollyn can see a way past, and predictably, it becomes the climax that blew me away as I powered through the last half barely taking a breath. I was certain that it was going to be ugly (and perhaps one that was going to get Hollyn and Jasper regressing into teen dramatics), but the fork-in-the-path-type problem that Jasper and Hollyn found themselves in was written in a way that pushed my right buttons so to speak, leaving an ending that simply left me happy as well.