When talking about representation in books, I never imagined I meant more than Asian American and/or queer. Well, Kristyn J. Miller’s debut novel Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts apparently decided to enter the chat.
Margo, alongside her best friend Jo, hosts a viral podcast about hooking up without catching feelings. When Jo eschews the rules and gets engaged, the girls have the whole internet to answer to. Enter Margo’s brilliant plan: break all the rules on purpose to prove why they are needed in the first place. And what better setting than beautiful Catalina Island, the site of Jo’s all-expense paid (and sponsored) wedding, with the groom’s best man (and Margo’s high school nemesis) Declan. Unfortunately, Declan has changed over the years and Margo’s experiment may not have the outcome she originally expected.
A podcaster who has basically given up on love and sworn off commitment? If ever there was a time to say “hi, it’s me, I’m the problem, it’s me,” now is that time. The moment I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. I don’t think I have ever before related to a white girl the way that I related to Margo in this story (and I mean that with the utmost respect) - right down to the crazy colored (and faded) hair!
On the surface, the story is about a social media influencer finding love after spending so much of her life not believing in it. But Kristyn digs into Margo’s character, reminding us that influencers are really just regular people at the end of the day. Margo’s problems are those that she has created for herself, created due to insecurities that we all face. Though she’s telling stories of her own experience on the podcast, she’s doing it through the character she’s created of herself for the public, forcing her to question whether she is really living life as herself or as the persona she has created.
Understandably, we get a lot of Margo and Declan throughout the story. And while they were a lot of fun to follow around, I did find myself wishing for more of the supporting cast. We get glimpses of the members of the bridal party, the bride and groom, Margo’s mother, and Declan’s sister, but I never felt like we spent sufficient time with any of them. Despite that, each of the characters had distinct personalities with the potential for growth. I am desperately hoping that the breadcrumbs that were left in this story lead to a sequel that will follow a certain pair!
At once a love story and a commentary on the impact of social media on our lives, this story emphasizes that we need to be living our lives for ourselves and not strangers on the internet. Through Margo, we are able to see both sides of social media - how it can help to improve our lives and how it can be damaging to our mental health and personal relationships - but we are also subtly given some ideas on how to pull back and not let it take over.
With this debut romance that straddles the line of spicy and steamy to give all romance readers something to love, Kristyn J. Miller is an author that I’m going to have my eye on. In the meantime, Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts is available now and you can pick up a copy for yourself here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher 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!