One of the fun perks of being a podcaster who also lives on Bookstagram is that sometimes you make friends with authors who will send you an early copy of their book to read. Bonus points if it’s the sequel to a book you adored. That’s exactly the case with The Rachel Experiment by Lisa Lin.

Rachel is a financial analyst who is also a bit of an awkward turtle in social situations. She gets moved to San Francisco to lead a team, a nightmare situation for someone who works better alone. After she arrives in San Francisco, Rachel heads out to find a bar to loosen up and try to put some Google researched social skills to the test. What she didn’t expect was to end up on a mechanical bull before heading back to the apartment of attorney Luke Trudeau. It was just supposed to be a one-night stand, but when the two find themselves at a mutual friend’s birthday party, they strike up a business agreement: Luke will help Rachel with her social skills so she can prove herself to in a leadership position and Rachel will use her financial know-how to help Luke open his own practice. And all clothes will remain on. Or will they?

I love when a side character from one book becomes the main character of another book and, in this case, we get two side-characters-to-main-characters for the price of one! After seeing a bit of Rachel and Luke in The Year of Cecily, it’s a joy to have them headline this book and expand on their characters, especially Rachel who I never would’ve imagined as a one-night stand kind of girl!

One of the best parts of this story is the way that Rachel’s thought process is portrayed. It’s a kind of love letter to people with anxiety who overthink all their social interactions. Lisa is able to portray something that isn’t often talked about and she does it with respect and humor. If you aren't a person with social anxiety, reading Rachel's internal dialogue and constant second-guessing of her social interactions will help you understand what it feels like for those of us who do live with social anxiety. 

The way Rachel and Luke’s relationship starts is unusual, but the friendship they develop as they help each other reach their goals is so heartwarming. As a romance, we know that they are heading toward an HEA, but being able to see them care for each other as friends first creates a depth to the eventual relationship that we sometimes don’t get in other romances. The way that Luke takes care of Rachel when she needs it is just so SWOON.

So, if someone could find me a Southern gentleman like Luke, that would be awesome.

Oh, and have I talked about the girl gang? Because Cecily and Adrienne are the girl gang that you want by your side. The way they rally for Rachel when she needs them is exactly what you want in friends. It's always a joy to see women helping each other and lifting each other up instead of being catty and competitive. We love the drama, but we also love a good ride-or-die.

The Rachel Experiment by Lisa Lin is available now and you can pick up a copy here. And while you’re shopping, pick up The Year of Cecily as well to see why Lisa needed to apologize to Luke and give him an HEA of his own!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!