Title: An Unexpected Kind of Love
Author: Hayden Stone
Published: August, 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content Warnings: Death/illness of a parent, homophobic parents, internalised homophobia, forced outing, possessive ex, alcohol use, lack of facilities for differently abled
I received a copy of An Unexpected Kind of Love from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Bookstore owner Aubrey Barnes likes his quiet, orderly London life, thank you very much. His shop may be struggling, his only employee is a menace, and his plumbing is one creaky pipe away from disaster, but he can handle it. Maybe. He cannot, however, handle the film company that’s thrown his Soho street into chaos.
And he definitely can’t handle the charismatic American actor Blake Sinclair.
Which is why he’s extremely reluctant to lease out his shop as a set for Blake’s film, but it’s his one opportunity to save his business. Now he can’t get away from the distractingly hot actor.
Then Aubrey finds himself alone with Blake in a trailer, and what happens next turns London’s heat wave into an inferno that leaves him breathless.
Aubrey is not cut out for the high-profile life of dating a celebrity, especially an American actor who’s not even out yet. Good thing their tryst is absolutely not going anywhere.
Of course, when you expect nothing, that’s exactly when it starts to mean everything.
An Unexpected Kind of Love is a surprisingly fun contemporary M/M romance between a bookseller determined to live an uneventful life and an up-and-coming actor.
Aubrey Barnes lives a very quiet life in London, running the family bookstore he inherited from his parents after his father’s death. His ordered life is upended when a film crew takes over the store as the perfect filming location and his path crosses with Blake Sinclair, the charming actor working on the movie. Their relationship is complicated by Blake’s limited timetable in London, a public outing and a possessive ex-boyfriend.
This book started out really strong – Aubrey is kind of charming, in a grumpy-not-sure-what’s-going-on-with-his-life kind of way. He’s in need of his life being shaken up and that’s exactly what he gets. The entire story is told in his perspective and he has huge growth as a character throughout the book, including realising that his ex-boyfriend is playing games with him and he needs to put a stop to it. By contrast, Blake is very confident, but insecure about people finding out that he’s bisexual, which is where a major source of conflict occurs.
The setting was fantastic, and all the bookish references made my reader-heart very happy. The bookstore is a huge part of Aubrey’s identity and so when things happen to it, it has an impact on him. I also really loved Aubrey’s best friend, Lily, who was just a force of nature and a really great friend to him.
The third act break-up was not my favourite thing; mostly because Aubrey and Blake’s relationship is whirlwind, and the over-the-top feelings seemed to be an extension of that speed-up connection. Miscommunication is a huge thing in this book, so be aware of that going into it, and do check the content warnings for anything you might be sensitive to.
Aside from that, I did have a fun time reading the book and it was a page-turning book.