The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Synopsis: Jess is a single mom that has not prioritized dating in anyway. She is a freelancer and has to focus on her job. Her best friend is a romance novelist and learns about a new dating app (site?) that will take your DNA and match you with your biological soulmate. After losing a big account and feeling hopeless Jess sends in her DNA. She never expects to have the highest compatibility percentage the company has ever seen or for her match to be with the company’s founder Dr. River Pena who also frequents her local coffee shop.
Look I love Christina Lauren as people. I’ve met them (Christina complimented my shoes which is like honestly a life goal), I’ve seen them on at least three virtual panels, and I think they do a great job promoting new authors and advocating for the romance genre.
That being said, their newer books have not been my favorites. I adored The Unhoneymooners (review) and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and I liked Roomies which was my first novel by them and one of the first adult romances I read. But, I didn’t like Twice in a Blue Moon or In a Holidaze (mini review) so I was unsure about this one. But, I fell into the hype and picked this one up. I read 70% of it in one sitting and the remaining 30% in line to get my covid vaccine. So it is a quick read and if you like this author duo, you’ll probably like this one.
This review is not in our traditional format because I don’t really have any strong LIKES or DISLIKES, but I had some thoughts that I wanted to share.
It started off strong, even though I did not care about the science of this app, but I was invested in River and Jess trying to figure out what was between them. The attraction between them is intense and I liked reading about it. They both are pretty frank and honest with their feelings which was refreshing.
Just as a slight disclaimer, I literally did not care about the science behind the app at all. But I think Lauren has a science background and thus there are some paragraphs that were a bit too science-y for me. Look I have a science degree, but I did not read this book for science. I was here for the romance, the app was just a way to force these characters to meet and give us plot. All of this to say, I have no idea if any of the science makes sense because I did not pay attention to it.
My main qualm with this book was that most of this plot just does not make sense. Jess and River start hanging out at the request of the app, but they don’t really specify about fake dating and then all of a sudden, they are being interviewed, but they don’t practice or anything? It felt like the plot was carrying them instead of them driving the plot with their actions. As a person who prefers character driven novels, I wanted them to move the plot forward themselves.
There is also A LOT of plot for such a short novel. There is the relationship, Jess’s relationship with her BFF (and her love life too), Jess’ struggles with her job, her relationships with her mom and grandparents which are both complicated, Jess’s reluctance to ask for help/do anything for herself, trying to figure out if what they have is real, and complexities with the company. This isn’t bad, but many are not fully fleshed out and feel like they were only put (once again) to move Jess to a particular emotional spot. I would have loved to see more character and slower moments with less plot since everything seemed so quick (could also be due to the fact I read this veryyy quickly).
Jess is a single mom which typically isn’t my favorite for romance, but I did like it here. Juno was super cute, and I liked her and River’s vibe. I felt that Juno’s relationship with River was a little too easy, but it was very cute. I also am a sucker for a man who can talk to children so points for River. I loved when River has to pick Juno up from school and that whole thing. Major points to him for that whole scene because wow, I loved it.
Again, this is not a bad book. It’s fun and has some great dialogue. But I expect more from Christina Lauren. They are prolific writers and I wish they would slow down a bit and write more complex stories. I see why people like it, heck I had a great time reading this & it kept me company in line, but I wanted more nuance and a more complex story.
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review*
Thanks for reading!