(3.5 stars rounded down to a 3)
Oxford Star by Laura Bradbury is a contemporary enemies-to-lovers romance with some steam. It can be read as a standalone, but is the second book in the Romancing Oxford series.
Jack, a member of a famous boy band, has decided to take a sabbatical from performing to study astronomy at Oxford. Hopefully, this reprieve will help him deal with his anxiety disorder and debilitating panic attacks. By some coincidence, Lucy–the curvy girl that got away pre-stardom–is studying law at Oxford at the same time. To help stave off tabloid rumors, perhaps she’ll agree to be his fake girlfriend.
This is my first book by this author. I initially requested this on NetGalley because there was a plus-sized heroine, but was honestly thinking about DNFing this book until I got to about the 20% mark. I kept running into an issue where some of the dialog felt overplayed and kept pulling me out of the story.
The writing definitely got better as the book went on, and in the end I was invested in Jack and Lucy as a couple. We’re in both of their heads for the majority of this book, so you hear what they’re thinking or feeling about the other person, but I wish they spent more time talking *to* each other. I think I would have felt their chemistry more if they were actively in more scenes together.
One of my favorite things about this book is its representation. As someone who suffers from anxiety, this book does a pretty good job of explaining how it feels. There’s also some really good fat positive representation in our heroine, and there are several queer side characters.
Tropes: slow burn, enemies-to-lovers, second chance, celebrity, fake dating, forced proximity, plus-sized heroine, queer side characters
CW: parent death (off-page, prior to novel), anxiety, description of panic attacks, gaslighting, firearms, abduction
I received a copy of this book to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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