Title: 10 Things That Never Happened
Author: Alexis Hall
Release Date: October 17th, 2023
Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary – Romance – LGBTQIA+
My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Fake amnesia. Real feelings? Real problems.
Sam Becker loves―or, okay, likes―his job. Sure, managing a bed and bath retailer isn’t exactly glamorous, but it’s good work and he gets on well with the band of misfits who keep the store running. He could see himself being content here for the long haul. Too bad, then, that the owner is an infuriating git.
Jonathan Forest should never have hired Sam. It was a sentimental decision, and Jonathan didn’t get where he is by following his heart. Determined to set things right, Jonathan orders Sam down to London for a difficult talk…only for a panicking Sam to trip, bump his head, and maybe accidentally imply he doesn’t remember anything?
Faking amnesia seemed like a good idea when Sam was afraid he was getting sacked, but now he has to deal with the reality of Jonathan’s guilt―as well as the unsettling fact that his surly boss might have a softer side to him. There’s an unexpected freedom in getting a second shot at a first impression…but as Sam and Jonathan grow closer, can Sam really bring himself to tell the truth, or will their future be built entirely on one impulsive lie?
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Since Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall is one of my all-time favorite reads, I was quite excited to read a new story in the same world. And my excitement was rewarded, because 10 Things That Never Happened is definitely a new favorite by Alexis Hall! It’s a super funny Christmassy rom-com that is filled with awkward shenanigans, slow-burn romance, hilarious secondary characters and a hidden depth underneath it all. It was a super fun ride and I sped through it in a day or two.
So let me recap everything I loved:
Samwise Becker. Yes, our main character is called after my all-time favorite hobbit so that little tidbit alone already endeared him to me. But he’s also such a genuinely nice (maybe too nice) and loyal guy and while he’s making some terrible decisions (see amnesia plot), his heart is in the right place.
The amnesia plot. Does it make any sense that it went on for that long? Ehh, probably not. But who cares? It was fun and caused so many shenanigans and it was a good way to bring Sam closer to Jonathan.
Jonathan Forest. Is Jonathan a likeable character? Nope. Not really. Does he go on an amazing character journey? Not that much, no. Jonathan is a surly grump and he stays that way. So I do think not all readers will warm up to him. But he does show softer sides every now and then (see: his affection towards Sam AND Sam’s cat Gollum) and I actually appreciated that his entire personality didn’t change over the course of a week.
Slow burn romance. I love a good slow burn and let me tell you, this is sloooow. Seriously: at 50%-60% in, Sam and Jonathan have only argued and bickered and argued some more. The sweet moments are also very, extremely subtle. It’s not your typical romance, not even your typical slow-burn romance. But again, I didn’t mind and found it quite refreshing. And it made me appreciate every little smile and touch and kiss that much more when they eventually did happen.
Retail relatability. Okay, just the very first chapter of Sam describing his team of coworkers was absolutely hilarious in it’s relatability. I mean, they may be fictional characters and slightly exaggerated, but we all KNOW someone kind of like them: the loveable klutz you can’t trust with anything but also can’t stay mad at. The coworker who’s always suspiciously off on a break somewhere. The newbie at work who’s waayyy to enthusiastic about the job. But also the joys and pains of team events. It was just fun in its’ relatability.
The secondary characters. There is a whole host of secondary characters (maybe a bit too many) but I love the scenes when they were all together. Jonathan’s family was a hoot and really stood out, but of course also Sam’s coworkers were such a fun band of misfits.
Oh, and did I mention this takes place around Christmas, so technically it’s a Christmas rom-com?
Overall, I highly enjoyed this read and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good (though quite silly) amnesia plot, an opposites attract romance between sunshine and the grump, relatable office shenanigans and ugly cats!