cover image The Rom Con

The Rom Con

Devon Daniels. Berkley, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-19923-7

Daniels (Meet You in the Middle) attempts to update How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days but falls short of the original thanks to characters who fundamentally do not understand either journalism or each other. Writer Cassidy Sutton thinks she’s found her breakout idea when her grandmother asks her to try the advice in a 1950s article titled “125 Tips to Hook a Husband.” Cassidy successfully pitches it to her editors at the female-focused news site Siren, but after a run-in with Jack Bradford, the founder of misogynistic clickbait factory Brawler, she changes her angle: she’ll use these tips to become Brawler’s idea of a perfect woman, get Jack to fall for her, and then write a “takedown of the founder of the most sexist site in journalism.” The huge violation of journalistic ethics driving the plot makes it hard to buy the premise and Cassidy difficult to root for, particularly since Jack (unlike the character played by Matthew McConaughey in the film) isn’t using Cassidy in return. Jack’s difficult to like, too, as his part in developing and promoting Brawler’s misogynistic content is never satisfactorily addressed. The climax also strains credulity, as readers are expected to believe that media mogul Jack doesn’t understand that having a public argument with his girlfriend at an industry event full of celebrities would result in headlines the following day. This disappoints. Agent: Kim Lionetti, BookEnds Literary. (Nov.)