2.5 star, adult

Review: Would You Rather by Allison Ashley

Noah and Mia have always been best friends, and their friendship is the most important thing to them. Life is going great for Noah and he’s up for a promotion in a job he loves. But Mia’s life is on hold as she awaits a kidney transplant. She’s stuck in a dead-end job and, never wanting to be a burden, has sworn off all romance. So when the chance of a lifetime comes to go back to school and pursue her dream, it’s especially painful to pass up. She can’t quit her job or she’ll lose the medical insurance she so desperately needs.

To support her, Noah suggests they get married—in name only—so she can study full-time and still keep the insurance. It’s a risk to both of them, with jobs, health and hearts on the line, and they’ll need to convince suspicious coworkers and nosy roommates that they’re the real deal. But if they can let go of all the baggage holding them back, they might realize that they would rather be together forever.

Overall Recommendation:

Would You Rather was filled with the romantic tropes many of us adore, best friends to lovers and fake dating. But with underlying traumas both protagonists, but mainly Mia, had to individually overcome, the pining was less cute and more grating as I read. For a highly anticipated read for me, I unfortunately was left disappointed even with the happy ending I expected. The plot was everything I could hope for, but its execution just didn’t work for me.

My favorite trope ever, if you know me, is the best friends to lovers. And here it is, in all its glory! Yet, somehow Would You Rather, one of my most anticipated romances of the year just fell short of my expectations.

Noah and Mia have been best friends since childhood, growing up in the same neighborhood and hanging out all the time. Through their individual struggles in young adulthood, they’ve supported one another and have grown even closer because of it. However, both still clearly have some trauma to work through because it keeps biting them even though they’re in their early thirties now.

Noah lost his older brother during his college years that he attributed a lot of guilt towards himself for the situation that led to his accidental death. Maybe that’s why he is so protective of the one remaining person he loves more than anything. Mia, on the other hand, was diagnosed with a chronic illness also in her college years that does have its flare ups while waiting for a kidney transplant to come in. In feeling like a burden (financially or physically), she pushes people away because of the guilt she feels.

Wow, talk about some angsty set up. And I’m not talking about the romantic pinings between the two. Yes, both were secretly in love with each other a la The Cheat Sheet which I LOVED, but Noah seemed to love her more than she returned it in some ways.

Mia frankly annoyed me. She pushes her parents away for reasons I can kind of understand (beyond just being a financial burden, there was a big secret they kept from her but to me seemed like they must have had a solid reason for doing so), but she holds onto that for years. I mean, for someone with a chronic illness who should understand the mortality of things more than most, shouldn’t one make the most of our time on Earth with those we love? I couldn’t understand how she didn’t want some sort of resolution instead of giving her parents the cold shoulder indefinitely who only ever showed love to her. (It’s a totally different thing if their secret was abusive but it wasn’t in this case.)

Besides the whole parental situation, Mia’s treatment of Noah was hard to bear at times. In addition to my favourite trope, there’s also fake dating (!!) or fake marriage, in this case. Technically a case of insurance fraud but as Noah secretly wanted a relationship to work out with Mia I’ll let this slide, they get married so she can go to school while still being able to treat her illness. He’s doing all he can to provide for her, to love her, to respect her boundaries placed on their relationship, but she KEEPS PUSHING HIM AWAY. Even when it’s evident she loves him too, non-platonically.

Guilt is a heavy burden to carry around and Mia has it in spades. I get that romances need some kind of stumbling blocks to a relationship in order to have, well, a story, but this was just getting out of hand. It wasn’t cute pining anymore and straight out underlying issues both, but mainly Mia, needed to figure out individually.

It’s a happily ever after kind of story but it took its time and a toll to get there. I, for one, couldn’t love it and my favourite tropes weren’t enough to save it. Maybe it’ll turn out better for you. Maybe.


2 thoughts on “Review: Would You Rather by Allison Ashley”

  1. Oh no, this is the first review I’ve read that mentions annoying characters in this romance and Mia really sounds like a character who will grate on my nerves. Yikes! I’ve been really looking forward to reading this one but if I do pick it up now, I’ll defo be going in with lowered expectations. Sorry this was such a bummer for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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