It is a truth universally acknowledged that all the young ladies who make their debut are looking for one thing and one thing only: a wealthy husband. Or are they? In Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend by Emma R. Alban, our heroines Beth and Gwen want anything but. When the two meet at a party early in the social season (Gwen’s fourth and Beth’s first), they hit it off immediately. They decide to spend their time setting up their widowed parents instead of searching for their own husbands, hoping that a happy marriage between the two will allow Gwen and Beth a bit more freedom. There is just one small problem: Their parents seem to have had a romance of sorts in the past, and now might actually hate each other. Never ones to say no to a challenge, Gwen and Beth find every excuse to spend more time together and plot their parents’ inevitable union. But when a suitor begins to express interest in Beth, the two must face the fact that the love story they are crafting might just be their own.
A cheeky, queer twist on the The Parent Trap, Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend is a rollicking romp through Victorian England. Alban crafts a deliciously clever romance for Gwen and Beth. While the girls are helping their parents reconnect, they are able to first explore a friendship, one that naturally gives way to their own true feelings. Gwen and Beth are a fantastically fun couple, and it’s such a delight to watch them discover their love for each other. The juxtaposition of the young women’s new and exciting feelings with their cynical, seasoned parents’ second chance at love provides a great balance to the narrative. Alban captures all of these feelings on the way to providing two satisfying and hopeful HEAs. And while the love stories shine, the familial relationships are also noteworthy and charming. Although they couldn’t be more different, Gwen’s devil-may-care father and Beth’s wary, weary mother both show that a parent’s love knows no bounds.
If you are looking for a bighearted queer romance with stolen kisses and grand gestures, then Alban’s Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend is the book for you. A sweet and sensual historical romance, it will have you full of champagne giggles and matchmaking mischief.