by Helena Hunting
Publication: September 21, 2021
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
With a title like When Sparks Fly, I expected sparks and passion between main characters Avery and Declan, but there were fewer than I hoped. It’s a good book, and there’s nothing inherently bad about it, we (the book and I) just didn’t have the kind of sparks I expected.
Best friends Declan and Avery navigate their changing relationship after an accident leaves Avery dependent on Declan and brings the two closer in proximity than usual. I adored their relationship right away because they were completely attuned to each other, as best friends usually are, from sharing a love of sports to knowing one another’s favorite foods. Although both have firmly friend-zoned each other, stolen glances suggest the lines aren’t as rigid as they appear to be. Had it not been for the hints of long-buried attraction, I would have been perfectly fine with their relationship remaining platonic. Avery is very much “one of the guys” and doesn’t stereotypically abhor anything feminine. Being “one of the guys” and getting one’s nails done are not mutually exclusive, so it was very much appreciated to see the stereotype rebutted here. Declan is a playboy and has never had any meaningful female relationships, his relationship with Avery being an exception. Aside from his playboy ways, he’s caring and loyal to the people in his life, except when he isn’t, and Avery gets into a car accident. Because of his immense guilt and, of course, affection for his best friend, he steps in as her caretaker. It’s the perfect setup for friends to become lovers.
The romance was a little disappointing. The sexual tension begins building after Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, but the sparks don’t turn into fireworks. I was hoping for something fierier than what I got, which is not what I am used to with Hunting. Romances in her previous books I liked always had some amount of longing that helped to bolster the impending romance. When the couple finally got to together, there was a sigh of satisfaction. The romance here is more slow than slow burn. When they finally got together, there lacked emotional fanfare, and I produced a sigh of relief–“took long enough” as opposed to a contented “finally.” The slow nature of their relationship might be a product of their friendship and their experiences with relationships, but I don’t know if I can believe that transitioning from friends to lovers would feel as uneventful.
From a technical standpoint, all the events of the book fall in line with each other. It’s planned well with nearly flawless execution. Similar to Hunting’s other books, it all leads to a logical conclusion, even if there are surprises along the way. I’ve come to appreciate this about Hunting’s writing, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy her books so much. From an affective standpoint, this particular book lacked the romantic tension and the emotional entanglements I often look forward to. Sometimes it was difficult to get through because the pacing varied. It took me a long time to make it halfway and once I did, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the end. The ending itself is sweet, but it also continued far longer than I expected.
**Sidenote: I’ve never heard of hobbyhorse but I had an inkling from the description of what it might be. I watched some videos on YouTube and the individuals are agile and jump so friggin’ high! I surely would not be able to do what they do. They prance and jump these things that are nearly as tall as they are. I don’t know how these people do it.