I’ll be honest – and maybe it’s my inner cynic peaking through – but, despite the 5 star reviews Our Stop seems to be getting on NetGalley (and a 3 star average on Goodreads), it just didn’t gel with me. I don’t tend to have high expectations of romance, although I do end up reading a few, (perhaps I’m looking for my own ‘the one’ (read: book)). But this just wasn’t it.
Title: Our Stop
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Publication Date: 13th June 2019
Publisher: Avon Books UK
Nadia has recently come out of a bad relationship with Awful Ben, which hurt her more than she realised. Daniel has recently lost his Dad and started a new job. He starts to see the same ‘devastatingly cute’ girl around where he works and on the 7:30am Northern line train from Angel. Realising he missed his chance to speak with the blond a number of times, Daniel decides to take an advert out in the Missed Connections lonely hearts column in the Metro. When Nadia sees it, the cat and mouse game begins …
A large part of this book (and my basic pragmatic issue with it) is that the Tube is efficient or irregular enough to make it possible to get the exact same train, at the exact same time, every day. Let’s try and suspend our disbelief for a moment and assume that, rush hour crowding, delays and everything else aside, it is possible. On with the story…
Daniel is everything – he enjoys romance films, he’s emotionally damaged but has come through therapy and learnt to be strong. He’s very in touch with his emotions. He’s there for his mother and has a strong group of friends. He’s nice to ‘working people’ ie the service industry. There’s a whole near-rape set up which allows him to prove that he understands consent. He has feminist dialectic, morning stubble and well-muscled arms. He also secretly enjoys watching the Lust Villa – this book’s equivalent of Love Island (which apparently can’t be named, although plenty of other things can). What. A. Guy.
Nadia is cute, clumsy, insecure, confident, lonely, strong-willed and intelligent. Did we mention she’s intelligent? She is. But not as intelligent as her friend. But still intelligent in her own right. And she’s eye-catchingly glamourous when she feels self-confident. And she’s there for her friends, despite this entire book orbiting around her own love-life.
(Am I being too harsh on the whole romance genre? I might be. But damn it, I just wanted some friction!)
I’ve tried to identify what Daniel and Nadia’s flaws are. But they are just too damn perfect. Maybe that Daniel is anally retentive (ie catches the same train every day) and that Nadia is late because she isn’t a morning person? That’s about it. And both of these flaws are introduced immediately, and then never mentioned again.
The idea of spotting someone on a train but never getting to have that ‘meet-cute’ moment was a great idea, and once the story itself progressed then this worked really nicely. However, it all dragged on for longer than it needed to, with all of Nadia and Daniel’s missed in-person connections adding to a building sense of frustration for the reader that they just needed to jolly well get on with it. When they did finally meet (spoiler alert) everything is rainbows and sunshine and trumpeting angels – and that was great – it just took so long to get there!
I think the author missed an opportunity to make the book’s title #OurStop which would have fitted perfectly with what happens later.
Also, I’ve read some romance that manages it, but this one certainly won’t be passing the Bechdale Test, despite all the intelligent, strong working women.
Disappointingly, there was also a burgeoning LGBT relationship (hooray!) that was all background (boo). To be quite honest, that budding romance was the kind of story I was looking to read, rather than the ‘fireworks when we finally see each other afer 80% of the story’ that I actually got.
And my final structural complaint – why, in a story that is written from two POV characters (Nadia and Daniel) is there suddenly a single chapter for a new male POV that never reappears (except in Nadia’s own narrative). Don’t introduce someone if they’re not significant. Especially when that chapter was just to justify Nadia’s own feelings and actions. It just felt clumsy.
All in all, a frothy summer read that is nicely written with some cute moments. However, be aware that there is a recent bereavement (which in itself feels like a plot device) and situation involving near rape/no consent that serves no purpose other than to show that the male MC is a consent-aware gent. Great.
I should make this clear, though. This book is not badly written. It’s a nice story, and the eventual get-together is great. It was just missing any kind of spark.
3.5 stars rounded down to 3.
*I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Avon books in exchange for an honest review*
What do you look for in a romance novel? Am I being picky? Let me know in the comments!