For You & No One Else by Roni Loren
Say Everything #3
July 5, 2022 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Review by Iby
Roni Loren writes contemporary romance books with real characters that have heart. For You & No One Else is the third in her latest interconnected stand-alone series set in a co-working space in New Orleans. Even though these could technically be read as stand-alones, I would recommend starting at the beginning, as the epilogue in this book is really meaningful with the additional context from the first two books in the series.
Ms. Loren’s talents lie in telling emotional stories where not a lot happens externally – it’s all about emotional growth. She is also the queen of a tragic backstory – this book is no exception (bring on the character angst!). And in this book, more than in any other in the series, the story is focused on the two main characters falling in love, with minimal external plot lines. It’s a good thing that the two characters are so interesting. Eliza is a therapist with a social media presence, who is normally the woman with a plan and great advice. We’ve seen her be the rock for her friend group in previous books, but she is now left as the only single person. Additionally, she has no family, as her parents were killed a few years ago. On Christmas Day, Eliza decides to go to work at the co-working space and runs into her office-neighbor, Beckham. Beckham is a younger (25 to Eliza’s 32), tattooed, reserved guy – and he is not great about disclosing anything about his past. He is also anti-relationships, which usually annoys me in a book – but I felt like his background and his age made this plot line believable. The two have immediate chemistry and find themselves on adventures together. One thing leads to another, and they become friends-with-benefits.
Eliza and Beck make this book. Eliza is too hard on herself, searching for love like checking off a to-do list. She gets caught up in a social media scandal and eventually agrees to go on a social media detox. Who doesn’t sometimes get caught up on social media appearances? Women can be so self-critical, and I completely related to Eliza’s soul searching about why she was posting something – was it a performance? Was she doing something for the likes and validation? When was the last time she did something without thinking about the post later? From the way I’m still thinking about this plot thread weeks later, you can probably tell that it resonated.
And Beck is clearly avoiding something in his past. We find out in bits and pieces, and I won’t give the answer away, but I will say trigger warnings for an emotionally abusive and deeply religious upbringing. Beck is also sober, but we don’t see any of the drinking becoming an issue (or any of the therapy or meetings he may or may not be doing to stay sober). Although he is anti-marriage, he is very pro-Eliza, which leads to some natural conflict as they navigate their relationship.
Ms. Loren had their meet-cute on Christmas Day involve adopting two pets at the shelter. Eliza wound up with a sunshine-y dog, while Beck unexpectedly got handed a grumpy cat. Watching the pets interact with their humans was charming and sweet. I need more Mabel and Trent content, ASAP.
I’m not sure if there are any additional planned books in this series, but the epilogue shows the friend group several years in the future. It is fun to revisit the happy endings of the previous two couples, and I’m happy with where Ms. Loren left the series if it is indeed the final chapter on these characters.
Overall, this is a great addition to a well-written series. Two normal people with baggage falling in love while trying to be happy – sometimes, that’s all the plot we need.