The first thing you should know before I get into this review is that I’ve never read this author before, so it was the blurb for The Love Experiment that caught my eye and had me hitting my request to review button.
Can you fall in love in thirty-six questions?
The closest rookie lifestyle writer Derelie Honeywell gets to megastar reporter Jackson Haley is an accidental shoulder brush in The Courier’s elevator. That is, until the love experiment: a study designed to accelerate intimacy using thirty-six questions and four minutes of sustained eye contact.
As far as Derelie is concerned, Jack Haley has always been a man best imagined in his underwear. He’s too intimidating otherwise. But participating in the love experiment is her make-or-break chance. With another round of layoffs looming, Derelie knows holding on to her job means getting the story no matter what. Even when the what is kissing Jack like a maniac.
Jack Haley has zero interest in participating in a clickbait story. He didn’t plan on finding Derelie smart and feisty and being mesmerized by her eyes. He certainly had no intention at all of actually falling in love with her.
The conclusion to this experiment? Thirty-six questions might lead to love, but finding the answer to happily-ever-after is a lot more complicated.
The second thing you should know is that I kind of expected this to be a book about a silly love experiment and maybe for there to be some enemies to lovers and office politics thrown into to spice things up. The third and last thing, is that this book took every expectation I had and exceeded them.
Yes, this book starts off with two reporters being thrown together for a clickbait story. Jackson Haley is a larger than life investigative reporter who would rather get run over by a car repeatedly than engage in some stupid experiment on love and intimacy. Derelie Honeywell is new to the paper and happens to be one of the digital only reporters that Jackson has no time for. But this story was given to Derelie and despite Jack’s downright douchiness, she is going to get it done. She gives as good as she gets and their back and forth banter made me smile.
“I thought you were too young to be paid to work here, Honeywell. And other than that first impression, I haven’t spared two brain cells on you.”
He was unreal. “I bet your dinkus brings all the girls to the yard.”
He really is a jerk through the first several chapters. Hmmmm, okay maybe up until about the 35%, but then something happens. In the midst of arguing over whether he will agree to do this love experiment thing, Derelie and Jack start to get to know each other and fall in lust. Love comes just a bit later. In fact, not only does the love experiment follow these two as they fall hard, but it has a good bit of their relationship post love announcement and moving onto more than just lovers, and also shows them navigating two careers at one place of employment and how they deal with it. Because really, to get to the HEA you have to know that your main protagonists can weather the storms of life.
The second half, once Derelie and Jack move past colleagues to lovers, is so romantic. I think I highlighted half the book.
“Five things are not enough.” His voice pitched so low it curled inside her. “Five things puts a limit on you. You’re not five positive things. You’re five hundred, five thousand.”
Between the sheets she was more than wonder. She was the saint, the angel, the sinner. Apple pie meets sex fiend; farm fresh gets filthy. Whatever lesson she was teaching, he was her star student.
Jackson Haley in love is a beautiful thing.
When she got back to her desk there was a text from Jack. You’re the headline of my heart.
She responded, Derelie loves Jack. Verily, merrily No clickbait. She put hearts at both ends of the phrases.
He came back with, Sub head: Jack Can’t Believe His Luck.
Angela dies of cuteness.
There is this thing Jack does where he goes to a club run by an ex-priest to get beat on and beat on other guys in order to let out his aggression and get his head straight and at first I thought it would be weird. You know, just thrown into the story to make the hero look tough and über masculine, but it really wasn’t. It actually helped show Jack’s vulnerability and how he coped with all the pressure of his life. I enjoyed this aspect of the story.
My favorite thing about The Love Experiment has to be that the reader is allowed to explore the new relationship with Jack and Derelie. Their love story doesn’t just stop once they figure out that they love each other, but rather follows along as they navigate the first few months. What that means for them professionally, especially since they work for the same company. Do they keep it a secret? Do they let their newfound happiness out for all the world to see? They learn how to be together and exactly how much they want and need each other. There is a blow up at the end that settles the question of their HEA quite nicely. I was kind of expecting it, and was actually glad that the angst and drama didn’t last too long.
The Love Experiment started out a romantic comedy, grew into a lovely, intense romance and ended up a book that has earned a place on my keeper shelf. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ainslie Paton is a new to me author, but one I will now keep on my radar in the future. Final Grade-B+
Honeywell was nobody’s footnote. She was a front-page headline all on her own.