In essence it’s an ugly duckling tale. Our heroine Aureliana returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn’t hold happy memories for her, as being a roly poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly throughout her years there. Now in her 30s, Aureliana wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was – all curves and because I’m worth it hair – and no one recognises her when she arrives. Losing her bottle, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again. But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James – major hunk and Aureliana’s major crush back at school. But alas, as a cronie to the bullies, Aureliana to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like…
I would give a million stars to this book if I could. It was just so fun and cute and wholesome, it hit me right in the feels, as in, I was crying like a baby in my room when I finished it. Before I picked it up, I read a review that said this was a loose Pride and Prejudice retelling, and after reading it, I can say, yeah, I see some elements from it, but not the whole story.
What I liked
The main character, Anna, is such a strong, beautiful, and flawed character. I loved her backstory and the fact that she was uncomfortable in her own skin after being bullied as a child for being overweight, it made her more real and human. She is a hopeless romantic even after she hasn’t been so lucky in the love department, and that made her, to me, such a relatable MC.
I also LOVED Mhairi’s writing. It’s so smart and witty, and it makes me laugh every time. I am just so amazed by it.
However, my favorite part of this book was the relationship development between the main character. One of my favorite things about romance novels is seeing the main characters’ relationships change over time. It is one of the reasons why I love slow burns so much. I adored seeing Anna’s and James’s relationship transform from enemies to friends and then from friends to love interests, it was so satisfying and *chef’s kiss* beautiful. I loved seeing the main characters grow together and becoming better versions of themselves, especially James.
What I didn’t like
Nothing. This book was perfect.
Thank you for reading!