The View Was Exhausting (Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta)

The View Was Exhausting is the first novel by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta.
Finished on: 21.2.2023

Whitmore Tagore, called Win by her friends, is an international movie star – and she knows that making it big in Hollywood requires three times the reputation management as a woman of color than everybody else. Fortunately, she has a standing arrangement with Leo Malinowski, heir to a hotel chain, and whenever her reputation is being threatened, they rekindle their on-again-off-again dramatic relationship for the paparazzi. Just now, Win’s ex is running his mouth and could cost Win her next big role. So, Leo flies to the Cote d’Azur for a romantic holiday with her. But this time, their sizzling relationship catches up to them, and they both have to decide whether they should try things for real – or leave each other forever.

The View Was Exhausting was fanfuckingtastic. I found myself completely engrossed in the characters and their story, and as a bonus, it tackles serious issues like racism and misogyny in a very insightful way. But most importantly: the romance stole my heart.

The book cover showing a woman of ambiguous, non-white ethnicity with sunglasses in a sparkling top.

I am a huge fan of fake dating romances – it’s just one of my favorite tropes. And nothing better could have happened to me than a fake dating story that looks critically at the film industry, and the way it is racist and sexist, putting even more pressure on women of color (Win is British Indian) than on everybody else already. I loved how the book incorporated those issues without becoming too heavy. I especially liked how it looked critically at Leo’s allyship and how he, too, increased the pressure for Win without meaning to. (One can speculate that Clements and Datta, who are in an interracial relationship themselves according to the authors bio, drew on their own experiences with that.)

Above all, though, I was just completely invested in Win and Leo. They are wonderful and flawed characters, their chemistry is absolutely fantastic and the story hits just the right amount of drama for me – with enough hurt to make the ending feel hard-won and earned because they all got to grow, but not sacrificing all the fluff, humor and softness for it.

When I tell you, I could not put the book down, I am really not exaggerating. It’s the kind of book that you close with a sigh and a bit of an emotional hangover. It was really hard to choose my next read afterwards (especially considering that before it I read the equally amazing Seasparrow and how likely is it to read three fantastic books in a row??).

Summarizing: wonderful. I’m in love.

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