Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams
September 6, 2022, by Berkley
Review by Iby
Denise Williams is an auto-buy author for me, and I was eager to get my hands on her latest release. The premise promised everything I love in a book: bad-ass woman divorce lawyer who happens to moonlight part-time as a wedding officiant meets cinnamon roll party planner hero who has secret pain. They instantly dislike each other, but have pants feelings, and are stuck at weddings together over the course of the next few months.
The book was engaging – and I really loved the meet-cute and the dual POV. The book needed the dual POV, because both characters were so bad at communicating their wants and needs. Like, for a lawyer and a wedding planner, both of whom presumably spend a good chunk of their professional lives communicating well – they were epically bad at doing so in their relationship.
And this is where the book lost me a bit. RJ, our ice queen heroine, is honestly mean. She is a little too hot-and-cold for me, and her motives for being mean were light. I loved that she was a strong Black woman – and I adored that Williams showed her as always working (because duh, she is a career-oriented boss lady) – but I didn’t love how indifferently she acted with Lear, our hero, for most of the book.
Lear isn’t great at communicating either, and he starts the book out as a bit of a jerk (telling RJ to smile more… really??). But because we get his point of view, we understand a bit more about why he is that way, and frankly, the guy has been through hell. He kept putting himself out there to RJ, and she shut it down pretty quickly, wanting to remain friends-with-benefits.
Quite frankly, I wanted to smack both of their heads together and send both of them to therapy.
Williams recognizes their communication issues, as Britta, one of RJ’s best friends (and heroine of The Fastest Way to Fall), gives her some tough love:
“I say this with love,” she said.
“No one says that before anything nice, either.”
I set my tissue aside, having forced my tears back into submission.
“Maybe you need to bite the bullet and use your words. You’re good at words, and your current tactic is to avoid communicating.”
Yes, Britta. Preach, girl.
And maybe that’s why this most recent release felt a little flat to me. Denise Williams is an incredibly talented author with complex characters and some heartbreak in each of her books. She writes these incredible career women that I want to be friends with. But in this book, because the obstacles preventing the main characters are all internal, I ended up frustrated by their behaviors – it felt like having the same discussion with a good friend about her toxic behavior, over and over again, and not having the behavior change until the 11th hour. We are happy she finally got there – but good lord, it was a tiring journey.
Overall, I enjoyed this book – the divorce lawyer-turned-wedding-officiant was cute, and I liked the diverse cast of secondary characters. I also grew to really love the hero, who kept showing up and being the “nice guy” he was at his core. But the way the characters kept miscommunicating and mistreating each other made the read less enjoyable than some of her previous works.
Either way, I’ll keep Williams on my permanent auto-buy list.