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i read four of tiktok’s most popular romance books, and these are my thoughts (aka my official comeback post)

*dusts off blog* hi. hello. it’s been a while.

i know what you may be thinking… who the hell is this person showing up on my timeline and why am i following them? well, the answer is that i haven’t opened this blog since august 2021. why? because i had the most stressful, mind-tiring, saddest, life-throws-lessons-at-you kind of semester. so blogging wasn’t my first priority. in fact, i was burnt out from, well, everything.

however, i seem to have found my love for writing (and reading) again. which is why i decided that today, i’m gonna write this blog post that i have been preparing for almost a month now.

as you may or may not know, tiktok has become a thing ever since the pandemic started. as a fellow tiktok user, i have stumbled accross many book recommendation content. romance book recommendation content. and for the last few weeks i have been reading said books after having compiled a list of those most likely for me to enjoy. however, things did not go quite as expected… here’s what i thought of each book i read (or at least started)

The Spanish Love Deception, by elena armas

two co-workers who apprently hate each other go on a trip and fall in love… or something. i don’t know. why? because i put the book down after listening to 6% of it. i’m sorry, but the female main character was extremely unlikable and, in the one scene that i witnessed, she seemed extremely bad at communicating and quickly jumped to conclusion with no proof to said conclusions.

i then proceeded to read various reviews on the internet to see if continuing on is worth it, and discovered that it’s not. a lot of other reviewers claimed that the writing is not that good, which i can’t judge from the small amount i read, but what struck me the most is that apparently, the event that brings the characters together (after the third act break up) is a last minute cancer insertion. and finally, the book is 480+ pages, which i believe, until i am proven otherwise, is very long for a contemporary romance book. so… yeah. not my cup of tea.

It Happened One Summer, by tessa bailey

okay, buckle up, because i am about to go on a full rant on a book i hated but that i actually finished (sort of… i googled what was gonna happen at the last 50 pages)

first of all, i will start by saying that the premise of this book does actually look good. a woman used to fame and luxury is cut off and sent to her deceased father’s hometown to learn more about the value of love and money, and ends up falling in love with a sailman living there, who also has a lot to learn about moving on and loving again.

the story, however, was extremely underwelming for a lot of reasons. i will just say what i previously said in my review on goodreads :

  • the second half of the book was extremely underwhelming, and quite frankly, i felt like nothing happened? they kept going shopping and fucking and having fights and making up and fucking some more, and… okay?? what do you want me to do with that?? there is no tension and no build-up, just a series of unnecessary events.
  • the smutty scenes were cringy… very cringy. genital parts were described as ‘‘femininity’’ and ‘‘masculinity’’ and i was just… crackling from laughter, if you want the truth. this point brings me to my most important criticism about this story (and apparently the author’s writing in general?), which is the fact that this whole novel is filled with unnecessary gender norms that are completely irrelevant to the story whatsoever, and not only in the sex scenes. both the main characters were described far too many times as “masculine” or “feminine”, and it ircked me. a lot.
  • finally, the male main character doesn’t think women should sail, gets jealous over men looking (yes, you read that right) at his crush, and it’s just…never addressed. no discussion, nothing.

i was told that a lot of these issues are not specific to this particular book, so i doubt that i will ever pick one of this author’s works.

People We Meet on Vacation, by emily henry

okay, now that i have put the books that i didn’t like out of the way, let’s talk about the ones i did enjoy.

People We Meet on Vacation is a friends-to-lovers story about these two characters who meet in college and decide to go on one trip every summer until something happens and they drift apart. the book is about them meeting again for one last trip and facing what happened before.

i have to start by saying that this is my first emily henry novel. as she is a very popular romance author (on tiktok and outside of it), i went into this book with a lot of expectation, and emily henry managed to break through them all and surpass them. the writing was driving me to the edge, with alternating storylines between the past and the present, and i needed to know what happened and what was gonna happen. the characters also felt extremely real and somehow…relatable? all throughout the book, they were lost, made mistakes and picked themselves (and each other) up, and i just… it was so amazing and beautifully crafted. on top of it all, the romance was so well put together. we get to see the characters from the moment they meet, their feelings turn from friendship to romantic ones, and i am honestly in awe of it all.

so yeah, you should definitely pick this one up. i find the hype to be totally worth it.

The Love Hypothesis, by ali hazelwood

not gonna lie, i just finished this one last night. but it’s safe to say that i am completely in love with this story and every aspect of it.

in this book, we meet olive, who’s a PhD student and who ends up fake-dating adam so she could convince her best friend that she is not interested in some other guy. however, i believe that my love for this book is not due to the fact that the chemistry between the main character and her love interest is good, or because it’s fun (even though the chemistry is good and the book is fun). i loved this book because of how much i relate to it as someone who’s also in academia. throughout the novel, we see olive struggle through academic life, as a student, but especially as a woman in a field dominated by white men (STEM). this story is a love letter to the research field, to academia, and to women in STEM. so it comes to no one’s surprise that i could relate to this story and its characters, and i picked it up at the perfect moment (when i wanted to take a break from overwhelming academia).

also, i felt smart understanding all the scientific references even when they weren’t explained.

however, i have to say something. this book is labelled on tiktok as ‘‘smutty’’, and it didn’t come to my surprise that it’s indeed…not. by that time i had grown used to being disappointed by tiktok recommendations in that area, so i wasn’t really expecting much. and in fact, there is exactly one (1) sex scene.

honestly, this whole experience was a rollercoaster, and i am sorry to say this, but i will be very picky with my tiktok choices in the future.

have you read any of these books? what were your thoughts?

14 Replies to “i read four of tiktok’s most popular romance books, and these are my thoughts (aka my official comeback post)”

  1. Looks like this really was a mixed bag! I do like the way you went about it though and loved reading your thoughts. I’m not very experienced in the romance genre, so I haven’t read much of anything you’ve mentioned here. I did read quite mixed reviews on all of those books though.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “this whole novel is filled with unnecessary gender norms that are completely irrelevant to the story whatsoever”

    that’s Tessa Bailey’s brand at this point tbh. It Happened One Summer is her second book that I’ve read and the one I first read (Fix Her Up) was exactly the same.

    glad you enjoyed The Love Hypothesis though, and I may have to give People We Meet on Vacation a try – my first Emily Henry book wasn’t a fun experience lmao.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i’m glad to hear you’re back and feeling better, maha! dealing with life burn out sucks and i’m sorry you had to go through that. but i hope 2022 treats you better!

    i actually happen to be a big tessa bailey fan hahah i do like how fast-paced and smutty her novels are and i hope to read it happened one summer soon. however, i totally agree with your criticisms that the possessiveness from the hero is wayyy too much. i don’t think her books are for everyone, for sure!

    i’m glad to hear you had a great experience with people we meet on vacation and love hypothesis, though! i really like the fact ali hazel wood is writing more stem romances, as i definitely agree it’s something we need to see more of in adult romances!

    hope you have a great reading year, maha, and an amazing january!

    Liked by 1 person

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