by Roni Loren
Publication: March 2, 2021
Series: Say Everything #1
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Being bullied in school and living with a neurological disorder has rendered Hollyn Tate with a lack of confidence and severe anxiety in the presence of strangers, preventing her from meeting new people and making meaningful relationships outside of her existing ones. This all begins to change when Jasper Deares, the new hire at WorkAround’s cafe, enters the picture. Jasper is an aspiring actor who needs help with his career endeavors. When Hollyn’s boss requires her to start putting videos on her popular blog or risk losing her job, Jasper might just be the person she needs.
Yes & I Love You is a light romance with flawed characters and an abundance of positive messages to live by. Hollyn’s blogging allows her to do what she loves, giving her a platform to showcase how smart and witty she is but it also protects her from interacting with people. She needs an extra push to find her voice outside of her very popular online persona Miz Poppy. While she would like to meet people and be “normal,” her social anxiety and her self-consciousness over having Tourette’s serve as barriers. Jasper is a nice, aspiring actor looking for his big break. He has a strong tendency to want people to like him, a disposition he attributes to being a foster child, and he also has ADHD. He gives off the perception that he doesn’t have his life together, and to an extent, he doesn’t, but he is doing what he loves, so what “together” means can be subjective here as well as what “normal” actually is. Despite a disastrous beginning, their relationship is one filled with positive reinforcement. I loved the positive messages relayed throughout their relationship with each other–messages I needed to also hear.
I appreciated the neuro-diverse representation. While I can’t speak to how authentic the Tourette’s representation is, the depiction of social anxiety is done fairly well. Different people will have different experiences and symptoms, but I was able to relate to some of what Hollyn experienced. While improv might not be the solution for everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily “solve” Hollyn’s social anxiety nor is it meant to, it does help push her to take small steps to become more comfortable with who she is around strangers. Little steps and a willingness to try, along with people who support you, can help make a difference.
While I enjoyed the book, it would have been nice to see more of Hollyn’s relationships outside of Jasper. For instance, I wanted more of Andi, the talkative podcaster who researches serials killers in an office close to Hollyn. (The next book is her book) At one point, a girl’s night is planned, and then it never comes to fruition on the page nor do I hear about it again. I liked Fritz, Jasper’s friend, and it would have been nice to see a potential friendship established there as well.
Overall, this was an enjoyable romance. I was rooting for Hollyn and cheered when she made the first positive steps toward creating the connections she was looking for and the life she wants.