best love stories to read

A Review of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

📖 GenreRomance, Adult, Comedy
📃 Number of Pages368 pages
🪴 Average Goodreads Rating3.92⭐
🌻 My Rating5⭐

What is You Deserve Each Other About?

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle is a romance book about Naomi and Nicholas, who have been engaged for a year and are both unhappy. But because their lives are so entangled (and the wedding is so close that nothing is refundable), they enter a game of chicken to get the other person to walk out first (and take all the blame, not to mention the costs). Shenanigans ensue.

This weekend I caught a cold (hazard of having children) and needed to read something comforting and fun while my brain turned to mush. And wouldn’t you know it, I went back to one of my trusted favorites, a book that I’ve reread more times than any other — You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle. 

Every time I give it a reread, I’m half-afraid that I’ll find something in it to dislike. Something that will knock it off the high spot it has in my heart. And yet, that never happens. Instead, I laugh, I swoon, I even cry — even though this time, I had all the sneezing to cover it up. 

And every time I read it, it just gets confirmed — You Deserve Each Other is probably my favorite book. Ever. 

Isn’t it a shame that I never gave it a proper review? Even on Goodreads, I only left a few sentences, not coming close to describing how much it means to me. 

The problem is that I have a hard time talking about books I truly love. My thoughts on them are more feelings than concrete notes — warmth and happiness and all things good in the world. 

But I’ll try to be coherent this time. 

Naomi, the main character of this book (and the person whose POV we’re reading from) is a true star. She’s written so well, flaws and all, that she feels like a real person. 

I always get annoyed at heroines in romance novels. They’re usually quirky, intelligent yet foolish, sound like something out of a Disney Channel, and are practically flawless other than a few things you’re meant to find endearing. 

While Naomi bears some of those characteristics — she’s a bit quirky — she’s also extremely realistic. She has some big flaws, ones she has to overcome. She’s not an innocent party in the downfall of her relationship and Sarah Hogle wasn’t afraid to say it. So often in romance novels, all the groveling has to be done by the male love interest, all the hard work. But here, Naomi has to face her own issues and be honest about her part in all of it. 

She’s incredibly funny too, and unhinged in all the best ways. The scene when she calls her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Deborah, and changes the wedding flowers to Magnolias (which is the name of Nicholas’s father’s first wife, whom Deborah hates), is peak comedy. Her overall thoughts and opinions on various situations are so entertaining. 

Not to mention, Naomi isn’t some highly educated high achiever or a girl with a big dream (like you normally see in romance). Naomi never went to college, works at a novelty store and doesn’t really want more than to have a nice job where she can have fun. This is what I love about all of Sarah Hogle’s heroines — they could be any of the women you interact with on the daily. They are the often unseen kind in the romance genre — saleswomen, water park workers, ordinary women with ordinary dreams. 

Let’s not forget about Nicholas, her fiance. You might expect a dashing, brooding hero, but you’d be wrong. Nicholas is as real as Naomi, and just as flawed. He’s a dentist stuck under his mother’s paw, desperate to get out.

The way Sarah Hogle wrote him, without the female gaze, even though we see him through Naomi’s eyes, is beautiful. He’s allowed to be silly and not always perfect. He’s allowed to have emotional needs and vulnerabilities. 

Nicholas is not at all the hero you’d expect, yet he’s the kind of hero that can make you swoon. Sans six pack, even — go figure. 

Their relationship starts out shaky. And that’s an understatement. Neither of them are honest with the other, and neither are willing to talk about it. So they resort to petty pranks and think the worst of each other. 

But as the novel progresses, and they reveal more of their true selves, as well as learn to listen and ask for what they need, you truly see all the ways in which they’re perfect together. It’s all about learning to communicate and being willing to be open and share even the worst parts of yourself. 

Yes, there are many pranks, and they’re very funny, but there’s also honesty and vulnerable moments that just tug at all of your heartstrings. Especially if you’ve been in a longer relationship with someone and know how easy it is to take someone for granted, to hold stuff in, to expect the other person to read your mind. 

Their joint road to redemption and to each other isn’t easy, and it often hurts, but that’s what I love about this book. It talks about relationships in such a real way, and explores what comes after the “Happily Ever After”, which many romance books ignore. 

Is it always happy and perfect? No, not really. But love means choosing the other person every day, flaws and all. 

What this novel also explores in a wonderful way is how men’s emotional needs are often neglected in relationships. Women expect them to always be perfect without offering much in return — especially in romance novels. Women expect flowers without ever giving them, big romantic speeches without ever reassuring their partners. But this is not how things work. 

And while Nicholas does his own share to fix the relationship, so does Naomi. She realizes that she hasn’t been a very good partner to him — never supporting him when he needed it, never reassuring him that he’s loved, never taking an active interest in his life, and taking all that he does for her for granted. 

One of the best scenes that shows this is when the first snow falls and Nicholas gets sick. Naomi realizes that he’s usually up before dawn so he can clear their driveway and her car, before going to his parents’ home to clear their driveway. So she decides to do it for him without expecting anything in return. 

And when they finally “get together”, he’s not the only one with a big speech. She makes sure that he understands how much he means to her. 

Again, not the kind of thing you often see in romance — a depiction of true, equal partnership. 

This is why I highly recommend reading You Deserve Each Other. While it’s not flashy or dramatic in the way most modern romance novels are (there isn’t even a third act breakup!), it shines with warmth.

This book is incredibly funny, thoughtful, and romantic. So, give it a go. And if you’ve already read it and loved it, try Twice Shy or Just Like Magic. Both are amazing (and I’ll probably do a full review for them because why not?). There’s another Sarah Hogle book coming out in April, so there’s that to look forward to as well. 

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