By Patience Bloom.
Yes, that's the author's real (married) name. Aptronym,much, given the subject matter? Heh.
Patience Bloom (nee Smith) is one of those, well...late bloomers, I suppose. This is the story of her romantic relationships, all of which failed until one didn't (TM Dan Savage), mixed in with her lifelong interest in romance novels and comparing real life to what happened in them. Eventually after stints in Paris, Cleveland, and New Mexico, she moves to NYC and gets a job working as an editor at Harlequin--hence the title.
You might be wondering why the hell I'm reading another dating memoir when I don't generally seem to be into them them too much lately. To which I say, good point, you! So what makes this different? Well, there's "happy ending" guaranteed right there on the cover, so you know it ends in a less depressing way than real life frequently does (like say, this book). And this book tends to move breezily along, not dwelling too long or hard on any one dude who you know isn't going to work out. Patience's life isn't super crazy soap opera eventful most of the time (we'll talk about that sort of thing later, as she does), but it's a pleasant read. She tends to mix in talking about her life and dating with comparisons to romance novels. She makes up fictional romance characters to talk about--first calling them "Faun and Devlin" because the book starts in the 80s', later progressing to talking about "Jake and Cassie." She snarks that what those couples would get up to isn't quite how her life goes. And she nicely covers in a fast and funny way the experience of dating in NYC by comparing those guys to the romance heroes she reads about all day. The tone of it is inherently fun and mostly fluffy and enjoyable. The chapter titles are great (examples: "High School Dances Don't End Like Romance Novels (Except Maybe If There's A Pregnancy), "If He Says He Doesn't Reciprocate Your Feelings, Believe Him and Run."), especially with the honesty.
Patience may be looking for love for most of the book (though she takes time off here and there), but she generally has a good attitude about it the longer things go on. She mellows out and grows up--I've seen some reviews online saying that they find her love-obsessed behavior in Part One to be off-putting, but it didn't bother me or seem like it was "too much" compared to other things I've read because it went so fast. And come on, most ladies have dated someone like her bad boy college boyfriend Craig, so we know what it's like when you're 20. As she grows up, she focuses on the things she likes about life, and she doesn't stress too much as to whether or not she can ever have a kid (if it happens, it happens, but she doesn't have control over that). And she has an attitude we should all co-opt about not pining over dudes and remembering that romance novels are great escapes, but they're not how real life goes. I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more about working at Harlequin, but it sounds like she has a good time working with authors, one named Marie in particular who writes a book a month! Marie even uses the names of Patience and her relatives in her romance novels, no less. "It's kind of hilarious that I'm a heroine in a romance novel--a veterinarian--and that Marie has me hooking up with a hero named Brady."
The book starts out with Patience at a high school dance, having asked out her crush despite him barely knowing she's alive. And he accepted! However, the date itself turned out to be quite awkward. Then she's asked to dance by Sam, the school class clown who she had no idea even knew she existed. It's memorable to her, even if nothing really progresses beyond that point...AT THE TIME. (And the photo she provides of them after their dance is just great. She's totally gaping in shock.) Decades later, she gets a Facebook request from Sam, who's divorced and teaching in Israel. He contacts her, it's great, he kinda does a flake and bail at first...but Patience (hah) has gotten used to guys pulling that kind of shit and then returning, so she takes the attitude of "I'm enjoying this while it lasts, I'm not getting my hopes up." There's a fair amount of commentary on "Vanishers" and "Returners" that a lot of us will relate to there. Anyway, keeping on with her life and not dwelling works because he pulls his head out of whatever, they're chatting online all the time, and eventually he moves to NYC to move in with her and (look, I already spoiled it) get married. D'awww!
If there's anything that's a bit awkward in this book, it's Patience's delayed explanations of the bad things in life that happened to her. She had one bad thing happen to her when she was living in Cleveland--well, you can probably guess what it was--but she doesn't explain exactly what happened until nearly two hundred pages in the book, throwing off the chronology of the story. You know she went through a bad/depressed phase for awhile, but reading about that without much explanation behind it is...pretty weird. Likewise, Patience is estranged from her dad, but it takes even longer and slower to really get into why (i.e. her stepmother seems to inexplicably hate her and dad picked the stepmom's side) or explain why she feels the way she does about him. It's like she doesn't work up the nerve to explain any of that until Sam comes into her life, somehow. I found that to be a little strange in the storytelling. But hey, most romance heroines have a dark side (as she says), things happen, and she recovered and moved on.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. It's a fun read and I'm happy for her. Four stars.