cover image The Make-Up Test

The Make-Up Test

Jenny L. Howe. Griffin, $16.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-83786-8

Howe debuts with a cute but underwhelming second-chance romance between rival teachers’ assistants. Medievalist Allison Avery is ready to start fresh in her dream PhD program at Claymore University—until Colin Benjamin, the ex-boyfriend who stole a prestigious award out from under her during undergrad, ends up in the same cohort. Their competitive sides come out when they both become TAs for the same professor—who can only accept one of them as her advisee. Allison refuses to let Colin get in the way of her dream again—but as Allison’s relationships with her busy best friend and unsupportive father fall apart, she spends more time with Colin, realizing that, while he’s just as attractive as ever, his personality has changed a lot in the last two years. Howe flubs the second-chance romance staple of slowly revealing what went wrong in the past; Colin was unequivocally a jerk during his first relationship with Allison, and his abrupt about-face in the present feels unmotivated and unearned. The rivals-to-lovers dynamic is good fun, however, and their present-day romance entertains. It’s not perfect, but it has its charms. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Sept.)