Romance Reviews: Heartbreak for Hire and The Soulmate Equation

Posted September 13, 2021 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Romance Reviews: Heartbreak for Hire and The Soulmate EquationHeartbreak For Hire by Sonia Hartl
Published by Gallery Books on July 27th, 2021
Genres: Romance
Pages: 320 •Format: E-ARCSource: NetGalley

Brinkley Saunders has a secret.

To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.

But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.

Heartbreak for Hire
has a really unique yet bizarre premise: a company of women who are hired to exact revenge on men who have wronged women. It’s a little crazy to wrap your head around at first, but once you adequately suspend your disbelief it’s intriguing to see how such a company would operate and the moral/ethical questions it poses. The story follows protagonist Brinkley, secret artist and failed (at least in her mother’s eyes) academic who thinks she is healing her own heart through the work she is doing to take down men with “egos” for the company.

Since this is a romance novel, it’s no surprise that Brinkley ends up in a tangled romantic situation with a former target turned coworker, who of course is deeply immersed in the academic life that she’s spent so many years running away from. Of course, Brinkley ends up having to train him at work, which leads to several high tension situations and your classic hate to love romance trope.

While Heartbreak for Hire was a quick read, it’s not one that I see sticking with me long term. There were a lot of characters brought up only to not have their stories run very deep, and I think there were several issues that needed to be explored more in depth (Brinkley and her mother’s relationship, Margo’s motivations, the relationship traumas that brought the other women to H4H as employees, etc.). Also, the amount of cringe-inducing bad luck Brinkley experienced was tiring after a while. I did think Mark, the love interest, was written well, but overall neither of the main characters are ones that significantly stand out in the sea of romance novels available today.

Overall: A very unique premise that could have used more exploration and more memorable characters. Overall it’s an OK read that is for sure fun and interesting, but isn’t a standout for me.

Romance Reviews: Heartbreak for Hire and The Soulmate EquationThe Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Also by this author: Roomies, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List, In A Holidaze, The True Love Experiment
Published by Gallery Books on May 18th, 2021
Genres: Romance
Pages: 365 •Format: E-BookSource: Overdrive

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

I feel like it’s pretty common knowledge in the book community that Christina Lauren books have been a bit up and down lately- some folks have loved them, so haven’t and some have found them to be hit or miss. With The Soulmate Equation, I feel like the dynamic writing duo has once again found their groove and the perfect story to universally please fans, because it’s so good. 

Where do I even begin with this one? The story blends so many new and exciting topics for CLo books, including:

  • Women in STEM: Protagonist Jess is a freelance statistician who loves her work.
  • Tech: The whole premise of the book centers around the concept of a DNA based matchmaking app.
  • Parenting: Jess is a single mom who adores her daughter and her identity as a parent is one that impacts the romance.
  • Realistic Dating: Not saying that other CLo books don’t have this, but I appreciated that not everyone was young and exciting and insanely attractive- this story showcased how priorities shift going into your late 20s/30s and how you can still build meaningful connections and have amazing chemistry even if you don’t look/act like someone who would be cast on Bachelor in Paradise.

So the basic premise is that Jess, single mother struggling to keep all of life’s demands and craziness together, ends up matching via this DNA based dating app with one of the founders, River, even though at first glance they seem absolutely not compatible. As I’m sure you can imagine from any experience you have with the enemies-to-lovers trope, feelings eventually start growing and it brings up some intriguing questions, like are these genuine or do they have a bias toward developing feelings because they *know* they are supposed to be compatible due to the data? I liked these more nuanced ideas that the story brought up, and I think the technology that the app is based on sounds so cool (I have no idea if anything like this would be possible in real life, but CLo is mad creative for thinking it up!)

In addition to the compelling romance that’s usually at the heart of every CLo book, the supporting cast in this one really shined! I loved loved loved Jess’s daughter Juno, and I like that she wasn’t just a plot device-she was an integral part of every decision Jess made and her presence impacted Jess and River’s relationship dynamic. I loved that Jess was so supported by her grandparents and they played a huge role in her life and in the story (love seeing supportive grandparents in novels!) Jess’ BFF Fizzy was an absolute hoot, and was the perfect counter to Jess’ practical and no-nonsense personality. I could believe in this little community while I was reading, which made the story all the more engrossing.

Overall: A new favorite CLo book for me, I think The Soulmate Equation has one of the most exciting and unique premises for a romance novel that I’ve ever read!

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