Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
January 11, 2022 by Berkley
Review by Melanie
The first book I read in 2021 was a book by Rachel Lynn Solomon titled The Ex Talk. It was actually my very first review for Smexy (you can find the review here) and I loved it so much and was super excited to find a new to me author whose voice just worked for me. I’m excited to say that Weather Girl was maybe even better. There was so much to love about this book that it’s kind of hard to figure out exactly where to begin with this review.
Maybe the best place to begin is actually with the author’s note. One thing to know about my reading habits: I love a good author’s note and I’m a stickler for reading them. Sometimes, they don’t say more than a litany of thanks but often times, they’re a great source of finding out what motivated the author to write this particular story, their intentions, maybe even the research they undertook to write this book. Done well, they can provide an extra layer of depth and understanding to a novel that, at least for me, really enhances the reading experience. Most author’s notes come at the end of the book but for this book, Rachel Lynn Solomon has included a note to the readers right at the beginning, laying out possible triggers (depression) and also highlighting why it was so important to her to write this book. It’s a romcom with a depressed protagonist and while she admits that on paper, those two things shouldn’t mix, she wanted to write a rom com that also had a air of realism to it. And she wanted to focus on a heroine who is depressed and on meds for her depression, finding love even in the midst of the heaviness of her life, and a hero who would see her, all the bits of her, and love her not despite her mental health issues but through all of the light and dark periods. Because, as Rachel so astutely puts it, that’s the most romantic thing of all.
Here’s the second thing to know about me: I’m very, very particular about rom coms – they seem to have become a catch all descriptor lately and far too many of them don’t meet the criteria (in my opinion, YMMV). I can honestly say that despite the heavy themes in this book, this book actually made me laugh out loud in several places and I really can’t remember the last time a rom com has made me do that. Ari (short for Arielle) Abrams is a TV meteorologist, working at her dream job, directly with the woman who she’s professionally idolized since she was a young girl. Or, rather, it WOULD be a dream job were it not for the fact that Torrance Hale, the legendary Seattle weatherwoman who’s been a lifelong source of inspiration to Ari, is making their news station a toxic work environment, due to the fact that her ex husband is the station’s news director. Every day at work is tense and drama-filled, with Torrance and Seth, her ex, having public spats and unwittingly drawing the rest of the employees into their drama. When their constant bickering culminates in Torrance heaving Seth’s Emmy through a glass window at their work’s Christmas party, Ari decides she’s had enough.
Joining forces with sports reporter, Russell Barringer, they decide to parent trap their bosses, working under the theory that if Torrance and Seth rediscover their feelings for each other, maybe their workplace would be calmer and less toxic.. Unprofessional? Yes. Unethical? Probably. Entertaining? Oh, absolutely yes. And so, in the course of parents trapping their bosses through swing dance lessons and dinner cruises and a work getaway trip that includes an incredibly awkward couples massage for four, Ari and Russell find themselves falling for each other as well.
But Ari, recently dumped by her fiancé who accuses her of not being real enough, has secrets. Growing up with a clinically depressed mother who refused to ever seek help, she herself got diagnosed while in college and has been in therapy and on meds for years. The way that depression is discussed in this book is so well done, so accurate and compelling and heartbreakingly real, it just gutted me. But she’s reticent to share these parts of herself with other people, especially anyone she’s ever dated, for fear that no one would stick around for the dark parts. After all, as she justifies it to herself, her father left her mother (and the whole family, really) because, in her mother’s words, she was too much for him to handle. I know you might be reading all this and wondering, which part did I laugh at?!? Just trust me though, even though there is a lot of Ari grappling with her depression and her fear of being abandoned, the book does have light moments as well.
Then we come to Russell and let me just begin by saying that we rarely get romance novel heroes who are fat and are a little self-conscious about it, and how much do I love Rachel Lynn Solomon for giving us a hero who embodies all of that. Russ became a dad when he was a teenager and has a 12 year old daughter who loves musicals. He’s a devoted dad, on friendly terms with the mother of his child, loves sports, and hasn’t had a date in 5 years. Yes, that’s right, 5 years. So, when he finally ends his drought with Ari, it’s every bit as charming and delightful and sexy as you would expect.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the first time that Ari and Russ get intimate. Ari, because of her trust issues, has trouble orgasming when she has sex for the first time with a new partner. It takes her a while to loosen up and her antidepressant also plays havoc with her libido. I love that all of this is a part of the story, it just makes it so much richer and full of depth. Russ, being the absolute kind and decent hero that he is, tells Ari that the most important thing to him is that she has an orgasm, and it doesn’t matter whether it be by his doing or her own. He has zero pride and exhibits a complete lack of toxic masculinity because to him, it’s not important for their first time if he is the reason she achieves satisfaction so long as she has a good time. And then, in one of the steamiest sex scenes I’ve read in a long, long time, they both reach climax and the whole scene is so tender and sweet and intimate, because it’s made so abundantly clear just how much these two lovely humans care for one another.
There is so much respect between the two, so much care is taken, that it’s really easy to see how and when they fall for each other. Both of these characters are scared for very different reasons and watching them be brave enough to take that leap of faith into love is both beautiful and inspiring to witness. While this is a romance with the requisite HEA, it’s a book that makes it clear that depression doesn’t come with an easy fix, it’s a lifetime to having to manage something that doesn’t ever have a rhyme or reason in how it disrupts one’s life. And ultimately, that’s the real beauty of the book, that Ari, after a lifetime spent having to hide the real version of herself, finally feels free to be her most authentic self, and in the course of coming to terms with all that that means, finds love with someone who sees her and wants and loves every version of her there is. And like the author’s note states, that’s the most romantic thing of all.
Content Notes: on-page depression, on-page therapy, parental abandonment, toxic parental relationship, teenage pregnancy, marital strife, reference to societal fatphobia, ignoring of FMC’s Jewish faith by her former fiancé’s family, lack of attention paid to both MC’s Jewish faith by their workplace on numerous occasions;