My star rating only reflects the first 25% of the book as I DNF. The premise and characters seemed really interesting, however, I just couldn't get into the book. They didn't have any chemistry and fell into a lusty relationship within 5 minutes of being reacquainted. I felt their past was brushed over and not fully dove into so they didn't seem to actually know each other very well. Maybe someone else out there might enjoy this book, but it isn't for me.
I enjoyed this novel and look forward to new offerings by this author. It is difficult to carry a romance where the characters are in different cities for so much of the book and the author does a good job with this, although I would have much preferred seeing them on page together more often.
Thank you to @harlequinbooks for sending me an e-ARC of Meet me in Madrid, OUT NOW 🥰😍
oh my bleeping goodness. I am obsessed with this book. December 1st when my November buying ban is finished I’m going out and getting this book in physical form 😍
i really really loved this book. I felt as though you were really connected to both of the main characters. I’m not much of an art or museum person but I still found this book so interesting. Both lead characters are BIPOC gay women, they eventually are in a long distance relationship AND they are both career driven AND there’s a bit of an age gap. Age gap’s kinda bother me because they sometimes make it creepy? but i thought this was really well done. They saw each other for the first time since uni. Age was mentioned but it wasn’t mentioned in the typical creepy way (IMO).
The book also had a really nice secondary character who i loved. She was a judge, she was married to a man (a cheating man) and then she explored her sexuality & ended up finding love 🥰
the book was steamy 🌶🌶 but also really cute. They kinda fell for eachother fast but i think there was a lot of underlying feelings that they hadn’t shared when they were in uni together. There bond was immediate and you could easily tell from the very first encounter they have.
If you liked: Red White & Royal Blue (this is obvi wlw but there’s a lot of similarities to the LDR & trying to find time for each other).
Verity Lowell tackles big issues in Meet Me In Madrid.
Lowell addresses the glass ceiling in the academic and art worlds for women and especially non-white women. The lack of interest in showcasing non-white art and artists by white art boards. Whether your voice is heard in the academic field if you are a non-white queer person. Lowell also brings up adultery affecting a secondary character and how far does friend code extend?
There is a romance buried in there (chuckle). It is overshadowed by all of the other topics along with the age gap between Charlotte and Adrianna and the problems of long-distance relationships. Then there is the added baggage we allow into our current relationships from our past. Busy book.
Overall this book is good. I think it could have been a lot better with less romance. Shocker. (laugh) I am actually saying to put less romance into a book. I do think that less romance would have made the book far more nuanced if it focused on Charlotte’s journey. Her journey and the messages along the way are important and I feel the romance muddies the road. There is a hashtag I like that says: romance is a bonus. In this case, I wholeheartedly agree. Charlotte’s success is more important than who she ends up partnered with at the moment.
I make that sound like Lowell doesn’t give us a happy ending. Lowell does, but it sounds more like a happy-for-now ending. Hence, why I say that less romance would have been better. The topics are strong and Charlotte’s self-discovery is more important in my opinion.
Meet Me In Madrid is more than just a long-distance romance book. It is a message of strength, resilience, and the power of people helping people.
I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
🔊Song Pairing: King of Spain - Tallest man on Earth
💭What I thought would happen:
Woman has a crisis and needs a change
📖What actually happens:
Charlotte is a museum courier trapped in Spain for a few extra days (hard life)! The problem being that work has taken over Charlotte’s life. These few extra days may be mush what she needs to change her life.
Charlotte finds herself at Adrianna’s place, her friend and crush to wait out the storm. The problem? Charlotte will have to return to the states and the beginning of long distance will soon create all kinds of havoc on their love.
Travel, yes! LGBTQ+ representation, yes please! HEA, absolutely! This book has everything I want in a romance.
The best part is that this book can be enjoyed any time of the year, in any climate. Going on vacation, may as well bring this along! Going on a ski trip, cozy up to the fire with this romance!
I love Charlotte and Adrianna so much. I just want to be a friend of both of theirs.
Would highly recommend!
Sometimes books just don't hit right and this was one of them for me. I found it boring and I'm not writing up a full review because I don't think it would be kind to me or the book to force myself to do so.
I really liked the characters and found the story super fun and lighthearted. It was a quick read for me. The writing style, as other reviewers have mentioned, didn't really fit the style of the novel for me. It's not that I didn't like it, it just didn't really fit with the genre for me - it felt oddly formal. I would read more from this author, though.
I've decided not to give this book a rating because I haven't finished it and frankly I don't know what my final opinion would have been. I really wanted to enjoy it, especially because of the inclusion of art history in it. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it past 25%. I haven't DNFed a book before, so this review might be a bit all over the place.
Most of the criticisms I've seen for this book were for the writing style, which I agree was not the best, but it wasn't that that put me off of this book. My biggest issue was really just the chemistry between the characters. To be fair, I completely forgot that there wasn't going to be a slow burn element to the relationship and that definitely wasn't something I wanted, but also, in the 25% I read, I barely felt a connection between the characters even though they'd already gotten together.
Also, I had an issue differentiating the characters. I don't know if this was just a me problem, but so much felt like it was happening while trying to explain the characters backgrounds that nothing being explained made sense to me. I couldn't even tell you which character was in the US and which one was in Madrid.
I can't say much else because I didn't read much of it, but this wasn't for me but I encourage people who may be more interested and can tough it out to try it.
Thank you NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for a review.
This book is the story of two academics that knew each other in passing back during their school years and meet later on in life while they are both in Madrid for work. So, the positives; I loved that both characters were academics because that is a world I don't know much about. I also loved that it was starring two women of color because that is also something we don't see enough of in sapphic romance. Their relationship was relatable and the love scenes were spicy but not overdone.
What I didn't like: there was a formalness to the writing style that felt more suitable to literary fiction and not a romance. I'm not saying that romance can't be highbrow, but I felt like because of the writing style I was removed from the romance. There was also the fact that I did not feel like I got to know Charlotte and Adrianna in any real way. We get hints of who they are but nothing concrete. There was way too much time spent on their careers and what that involved and not enough on who they were as people. Also, I don't think every book has to be a slow burn but there could have been more tension and buildup to their physical relationship. It happened so abruptly and while the sex scenes were fun; I was being told about their intimacy more than feeling it.
The other issue I had which might be the one that annoyed me the most was that it felt like I was told these women were Black but if I hadn't been told, I would not have known. Now I don't think race should be the focus of who a character is but in a world of books where white women are often centered, I appreciate seeing women of color as the main characters. As a Black woman, this is especially important. It felt like the only time their race was brought up was as an issue in their jobs rendering it a problem. Yes, it is acknowledged that the treatment is wrong and unfair (also the issues that come about it felt a bit on the nose) but I would have liked to see the positive side as well. Their world was very white, down to who their friends were and who they worked with, and I just don't see how realistic that is, especially being surrounded by the negative attitudes they mentioned. If anything, this would push you more towards commiserating with your own people and perhaps make you more inclined to entrench yourself in your own culture. The way it is presented, it's like them knowing each other is the only time they find someone to relate to. Also, Adrianna was a Black Latina according to something said in passing but it is in no way a part of the story. Such a missed opportunity.
Overall, I would definitely read another book by this author and for a debut, I think it was worth reading.
I was so excited to see a book about two queer women of color in academia and I'm grateful to the author for wanting to tell this story! However, I had some trouble getting into the book. The chemistry between the characters wasn't there for me, despite the steamy content, and the writing didn't always flow well. I had a hard time staying engaged. The descriptions of Madrid were enjoyable and I liked the insight into the academic/museum world, including the struggles the women faced. But, I didn't find myself connecting with the characters as much as I'd hoped.
I really wanted to like this one! Ultimately, it didn't live up to my expectations. I hope the author/publisher are willing to try again though, because we're always looking for romances that don't fit the typical mold and that feature diverse characters. I did purchase this for my library and hope that my patrons find a connection with it even though it wasn't really there for me.
I was actually really disappointed - I was excited for this book, but it felt more like a hypersexualized fantasy written by a man who had only ever seen lesbians in porn. I really didn't like the gratuitous physical descriptions, and I wasn't able to finish because it was so uncomfortable to read.
2.5 stars rounded down. 3 stars for the storyline but docking 1 star for the... writing?
LDR + academia? Sounds super intriguing!
It is very difficult to write LDRs since most of the time, the main characters are physically apart, and Meet Me in Madrid definitely suffered from that. For the first 60% of the book, both characters were just... waiting to see each other every few weeks. There was no clear goal for either of them as Adrianna was on sabbatical in Madrid (and lives on the West Coast) and Charlotte was stuck at Woodley, on the East Coast. Everything picked up around the 60% mark and the stakes got pretty high, which I enjoyed. However, I find Charlotte and Adrianna both unreasonable sometimes in their own way, and I didn’t really see how their relationship got past a fling. Plus, I don’t feel like I know either of them much.
Racism and sexism are two main themes in the book. While I appreciate Lowell incorporating both the MCs’ experiences and history references, I think that the thematic execution was very heavy-handed. And I also had some issues with the wording, not just because some sentences read like using a thesaurus for word replacement, but that... it felt like the author was trying too hard. Even though I’m assuming the author is a queer person of color, the narrative reads oddly like it’s written by a cishet white author. And I’m also guessing that the author does not read much romance. The good side is that it is not super formulaic, but the bad side is that the pacing is a bit off and there is a lot of summaries of events throughout the book. And there is a 3rd POV for one scene that I don’t think is necessary.
Also, I’m still scratching my head about why the author used the word “blacklist”...
I enjoyed the academic aspect of the story, being in academia myself. While the demographic in engineering is largely different from that in art history, there are still a lot of things I can relate to. It was a letdown to find that the romance between two queer women of color wasn’t was satisfying as all the university and conference talks.
Random, but isn’t it fun that both Quinn Ivins’ Love Factor and this book are sapphics in academia with a sexist homophobe called Grayson?
All in all, Meet Me in Madrid had the potential to be much better, but it reads kind of awkwardly (because of the word choices) with okay-ish characters. A decent try at highlighting discrimination in academia for Lowell, but a slightly disappointing debut.
[content warnings: racism, sexism, homophobia, depression, drug abuse, suicide, sexual harassment, past TA-student relationship?]
I really wanted to love this book as the premise really intrigued me, but it didn't quite get there for me. It was definitely enjoyable and a super cute romance with a lot of steam, but the pacing in some places was very slow.
I did really enjoy the characters in relation to their occupations and reasons for being in Spain, this felt very well researched (or just being knowledgeable in the subject) and gave a new dimension to the characters outside of the romance. Their romance was a tad instalove, but in this instance that was understandable since they had known each other before this book takes place.
All in all it was an enjoyable read, but there were spots where I struggled a little bit to get through it. It was a cute story and the romance was fun in the end.
In this sexy, sophisticated romantic comedy, two women juggle romance and career across continents.
Charlotte Hilaire has a love-hate relationship with her work as a museum courier. On the one hand, it takes her around the world. On the other, her plan to become a professor is veering dangerously off track.
Yet once in a while, maybe every third trip or so, the job goes delightfully sideways…
When a blizzard strands Charlotte in Spain for a few extra days and she’s left with glorious free time on her hands, the only question is: Dare she invite her grad school crush for an after-dinner drink on a snowy night?
Accomplished, take-no-prisoners art historian Adrianna Coates has built an enviable career since Charlotte saw her last. She’s brilliant. Sophisticated. Impressive as hell and strikingly beautiful.
Hospitable, too, as she absolutely insists Charlotte spend the night on her pullout sofa as the storm rages on.
One night becomes three and three nights become a hot and adventurous long-distance relationship when Charlotte returns to the States. But when Adrianna plots her next career move just as Charlotte finally opens a door in academia, distance may not be the only thing that keeps them apart.
I’ll be honest. I’m typically not a romcom kind of gal. I like melodrama and or really creepy things, BUT I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through Europe. I was skeptical of how quickly Charlotte and Adrianna fell in bed and into some entanglement feelings, worried that the tension and plot wouldn’t hold, but I needn’t have worried. A long distance relationship makes for a solid barrier to keep the plot moving, and I liked that they developed their rapport early on, so the “will they/won’t they” didn’t get in the way of their growing relationship.
I’ve only been to Europe twice, and never to Spain, but this book made me want to hop on a plane, and then meet a hot lady to fall into a long-distance relationship with, hehe. If you’ve been doing some heavy reading, or enjoy some escapism in your reading to deal with the garbage fire of our world right now, be sure to check out this delightful, little book. It moves quickly and will leave you with a smile on your face, and a hankering to travel.
Charlotte Hilaire lives a busy life as a museum courier. She travels from museum to museum, country to country. It sounds much more exciting than it can be. She sticks to a tight schedule and never has the time for anything fun.
When a blizzard in Spain delays Charlotte’s return to the states, she finally has the chance for fun. Except the fun leads her in a place she wasn’t quite expecting when she meets up with former classmate, and crush, Adrianna Coates.
The heat between the pair combusts over the span of the three days Charlotte is stuck in Spain. They spend more time in the bedroom than outside of it. As time passes, they find themselves calling and wanting to see more and more of each other, even when facing the distance.
In an effort to become closer to each other they both take the chance of turning their careers in different directions to make it possible.
What I really liked? How smart Charlotte and Adrianna were and how they admired that aspect in each other. I love when there are characters who are themselves and they have little geeky things they get excited about.
Also the steam factor. I hoped with the portrayal of a long-distance relationship there would be video chat and phone sessions. I wasn’t disappointed. The buildup to them meeting up with each other in persona again was exciting.
There were a few flat spots where I felt things just dragged a little too much for my liking. Some of the secondary characters I just, felt weren’t needed or were an after thought. There was a lot of angst and judgment in the workplace that while is prevalent in the academic world, I like my romance with a little less angst. So if angst is your thing, you’ll find it in this novel for sure.
This book wasn't for me, but I can see who it's for. I'm often asked to give recommendations for sapphic romance at my store, and this one will definitely make that list. I'm just not at the part of my life were I can relate to being burnt-out from a high-paced job or wanting to get together with a far-away crush. It's important to me to be able to empathize with the characters, and I just wasn't able to in this case. I do want to say that I love the cover! It is absolutely gorgeous.
I will admit to raising my eyebrows—sardonically, of course—at the way Charlotte and Adrianna fell in love as soon as they fell into bed, but shortly thereafter, I was totally rooting for them to overcome their obstacles and get their HEA.
To be fair, they do have a pre-existing relationship, so this is not the story of two strangers falling in love, but they do go from acquaintances to… not…very quickly. But when something feels right, you go with it.
Although the title refers to where Charlotte and Adrianna initially meet, most of the book doesn’t take place in Madrid *and* the protagonists spend most of the book apart. BUT, thanks to modern technology, they can still be together even when they’re in two different places.
And on that note, the chemistry is 100% scorching hot, and one can only surmise that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is the reason why they can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re in the same place. And why they have erotically-charged video chats.
There’s a ton to like about this book: the protagonists are both Black women who work in academia. They’re also a bit older than the average age of romance protagonists, which is wonderful—I don’t mind reading about people barely out of college, but it’s always a nice change of pace to read about people (whispers) my own age. But I am here for the academic drama and I am here for shutting down critics—no, it is not just a cartoon rabbit. I know that probably doesn’t make much sense, but read the book to find out what I’m talking about.
Because Charlotte and Adrianna spend most of their time apart, they are bolstered by secondary characters like James and Esther, who both deserve books of their own, although not together, of course.
I would absolutely recommend Meet Me in Madrid. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but once I got hooked, I couldn’t put the book down. This is a tender and sweet love story and I couldn’t get enough of the descriptions of food—yum! I am looking forward to reading more from Lowell in the future.
this was a bit of a dissapointment for me.
I wanted to loved this book so much because POC sapphic love stories there are very few but unfortunately the plot and romance weren't developed enough.
i also couldn't connect with either of the mcs which was a bummer.
And still, this wasn't a bad book. There were some parts that I truly enjoyed and I wish we had more of that.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the change to read this book in exchnge for an honest review.
The cover caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist picking up a book about two sapphic women navigating their careers and relationships in their thirties and forties. While some of it worked for me, there were other parts that weren’t my jam.
Charlotte is a courier for an art museum, which means lots of travel on very short turnarounds. An unexpected layover in Madrid leads to her reconnecting with Adriana, who was a few years ahead of her at Yale, but who she always had a crush on. They met over a decade ago when Charlotte was still an undergrad and Adriana was a TA. But now, three nights together in Madrid fuel a connection that neither woman wants to do without. But can they overcome the geographic differences and the disparate stages in their careers to finally be together?
“Sweet Lord, Adrianna. What are we doing? How can we have spent all this time trying to advance in a field dominated by people who think we are less? That what we do doesn’t matter or isn’t real. I’m just so goddamned tired of it.”
This book is slow paced and very angsty. Not only are both characters experiencing all the problems of embarking on a long distance relationship, but they’re also two queer BIPOC women in academia with all the nastiness and stress you’d expect from that. Adriana is in her forties and much further along in her career than Charlotte, though only four years separated them in grad school. With a teaching position at UCLA, she’s doing a sabbatical fellowship in Madrid studying pieces belong to a particularly art interested nun. She’s a consummate planner and very focused on her career, to the exclusion of anything else. Meanwhile, while Charlotte’s similarly talented and hardworking, she’s had two year long teaching positions that went nowhere. She ended up in her current courier/curator combo for lack of other options. Charlotte misses teaching students and the museum isn’t receptive to many of her ideas for new exhibits, choosing instead to stick with the same old white men of middling quality instead of “politically correct” fads (that is, anything that centers anyone not male, cis, het and white). The friction between their careers and love lives comes to a head when both have a chance at new opportunities – but, again, on opposite coasts.
“What you see before you is a big ball of confusion. I’m living an out of body experience. When I left I was perfectly fine being here, being single. And now I can barely get up in the morning without her lying next to me. And all it took for me to get this way was three days. I feel crazy.”
What this book does well is the emotions – and the steam! Each woman admires the other for their knowledge of their field and their accomplishments, though Charlotte has had less opportunities than Adriana. I never doubted the depth of their connection, and the various coping habits both women employ each time they have to leave each other was heartbreaking. But the exhilaration of them meeting up again matched the bittersweetness of those moments. The in-between, though, was super angsty, from wondering about what their relationship status is to the fear they’ll lose interest in each other while they’re apart to the frustration of being on two different continents. At times, it was a bit too much angst for me. Even when they’re apart, though, they still manage to connect in the margins, including some very hot video chats. And, woo, this book is steamy. Belying her demure exterior, Charlotte likes being in control in bed (or on the sofa, or the countertop, etc). But besides the steaminess, the scenes showed their deepening connection and the possibilities of what their relationship could be, given time together. The bleak moment, however, was everything I didn’t like about the book – super angsty and way too judgmental, honestly, and it made me dislike one of the main characters for their childish response. There wasn’t quite enough space left in the book for my opinion of her to recover, either.
Overall, while there was a lot I liked about this book (the emotions, the academia bits), there was just a bit too much angst for me. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this author, however.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
TW: racism, sexism, misogynoir
Charlotte has a PhD in art history, a job where she gets to travel the world and good friends. But the PhD isn't getting her into academia, where she desperately wants to be, the job doesn't actually include much seeing the places she visits and the good friends are actually James, her gay colleague and Natalie, who barely makes an appearance. When a blizzard strands her in Madrid and she contacts Adrianna, a person she knew once, on a whim, he life rapidly changes in a whirlwind of passion, plane rides and Adrianna. Adrianna who has everything Charlotte wants and is charming and beautiful and smart and sexy. When opportunities and possibilities come their way, will they be able to balance their newfound relationship with their dreams?
This is a cute, funny, sexy Sapphic romance with a dollop of art history and a dash of academia. The relationship between Charlotte and Adrianna feels organic, even if they are immediately attracted to one another, which is an art in and of itself. The pacing and writing of the story is fitting for the fun contemporary romance it wants to be. The wit is amazing, especially in face of the heavy topics it does touch on: racism, sexism and misogynoir in academia and the arts. My personal feeling is that this was done well, though I strongly urge you to read the reviews of BIPOC on this in particular. I loved the queer rep and especially how the story underlines that feeling safe at work or at school is a lot easier when there are other queer people and the way just existing seems to be easier and more free. This was done extremely well. I loved this aspect in combination with academia, especially women in academia. It felt like a reminder that I am not alone, that I can occupy as much space as any other. The smut however, was...mediocre. It always started so good and was over way too quickly, feeling cut off and sometimes even cold. This didn't fit into the rest of the story and the exquisite storytelling that detailed how the two women fell deeper and deeper in love.
I recommend this story to anyone who loves romcoms, academia and travel and particularly to queer women who occupy such spaces. It is a reminder that you are not alone.