I came across this book when it kept showing up on Amazon’s recommended reads, and I was curious because it had great reviews and the plot was very appealing. But the price was high for a Kindle book and I wasn't familiar with the author, so I was apprehensive about buying it. A couple of weeks ago Dear Author did a review of the book and I saw it like a signal from the Gods, so I bought it high price be damned. I’m so happy I got it because this book is worth its weight in gold.
Beth and Jennifer are best friends and co-workers. They e-mail each other constantly even though they know that their e-mails are being monitored for inappropriate work behavior (this goes from gossiping to watching porn, basically anything non work related gets flagged). The person in charge of reading the flagged e-mails is Lincoln. He did managed to warn Beth and Jennifer once, but every time he reads one of the e-mails he finds himself more and more involved because you see, he not only likes them, he is starting to feel attracted to Beth. Things get worse once Lincoln realizes that the cute guy Beth keeps talking about is actually him. Now he is in deep trouble because if and when Beth finds out about everything there is no way in hell for him to not look like a creepy jerk.
Everything about this book was charming and clever. The book is set in 1999 so there’s a blast from the past with all the Y2K craziness. The characters are some of the most likeable I have read this year. But the best part is that the book is half regular romance novel narrated in third person and half epistolary novel narrated through letters, or in this case, e-mails. This last element was my favorite part, some of the chapters are narrated from Lincoln’s POV and some are just emails exchanged between Beth and Jennifer. In fact, we don’t get to see Beth until halfway through the book, and Lincoln is described a little at a time so you almost need to reach the end of the book to really attain a mental image of the characters. The thing is that they are so beautifully written and have such wonderful personalities that just as Lincoln doesn’t care how Beth looks like, I didn’t care either.
Lincoln’s character could have gone terribly wrong and his overall description makes him sound like a perverted creep, a serial killer or maybe both. I mean, here we have a guy who is kind of dorky (he plays Dungeons & Dragons regularly), lives with his mother, has been hung up on his High School girlfriend for ten years (even though she was a self-centered bitch who broke his heart), and is obsessed with a girl he met through monitoring her e-mails and private conversations with her friend. But it turns out that he was a sweet, goodhearted guy, a little bit naive, not as happy as he would like to be, and maybe a bit lazy to do something to change his life.
I absolutely adored him, first of all you’ve got to love a guy who falls for you because of who you are and not how you look like, second of all he was aware of how morally reproachable his behavior was and felt really uncomfortable with his job (this plays a part in the book and is a subject addressed a lot in the story), and third he was real. He isn’t your typical romance novel hero. He has a defined story-arch and he does a lot of maturing throughout the story. The only thing that kind of bothered me a bit was that he was a hunk; I understand that his hotness played an important role in the story and was the catalyst for the relationship development but he could have been cute without being gorgeous. This is a bit of a dichotomy if you wish to call it that, Lincoln falls for Beth’s personality and Beth falls for Lincoln’s looks.
Beth was not as interesting as Lincoln and she wasn’t as fleshed out. She does a lot of changing and maturing as well, but it seemed like her hand was forced whereas Lincoln actually made the decision to change his life. Nonetheless Beth was completely relatable, she was sweet and caring and I know this sound like a cliché but I would love to have her as a friend. The love story was great but I would have enjoyed a book written entirely with their e-mails. I think that if you are a girl and have a best friend and you keep sending each other e-mails where you gossip and talk about your everyday life and trials and tribulations, then you are going to enjoy this book.
Jennifer is the other protagonist of the story. She was a fantastic character and just as relatable (if not more) as Beth. I loved reading about her life, about the difficult things she was going through, and even though she wasn’t really part of the love story I didn’t feel like she was taking the spotlight. Every single character in the story had a purpose and I think they all made me laugh at one point or another.
As I said this book was charming, funny, sweet, romantic and just plain perfect. If you are a fan of contemporary romance you should give this one a try. I have a new favorite author and her name is Rainbow Rowell, give her a try because you won’t regret it. I can't wait to read her next book.
Review by Brie
In sweet, silly, and incredibly long digital missives, best newsroom pals Beth and Jennifer trade gossip over their romances—Beth with her marriage-phobic boyfriend, Chris, and Jennifer with her baby-mania-stricken husband, Mitch. What they don't know is that the newly hired computer guy, Lincoln, an Internet security officer charged with weeding out all things unnecessary or pornographic, is reading their messages. But lonely Lincoln lets the gals slide on their inappropriate office mail and gets hooked on their soapy dalliances, falling head over heels for the unlucky-in-love Beth.
Dutton Adult; April 14, 2011.