Sunday 2 October 2022

The Unbalanced Equation (Hot Mess Trilogy Book 1) by H.L MacFarlane (2022)



What do a bad landlord, a family wedding and a rogue Bunsen burner all have in common?

After suffering four years of scrutiny from her PhD assessor, Elizabeth Maclean believes she’s finally free of Dr Thomas Henderson’s tyranny when she begins her postdoc. But when a fire goes off in Tom’s lab (stupid undergrads) he ends up working in the same lab as Liz.

On the same bench, no less.

For three whole months.

To make matters worse – and much to their mutual surprise – Tom’s mum and Liz’s dad announce their impending marriage after a whirlwind romance. So when Liz’s landlord tells her to move out, pronto, it tips her over the edge. Desperate for a place to stay and in need of a saviour, the last person Liz expects to offer her a temporary home is Tom himself.

Now stuck working together, living together and planning their parents’ Christmas wedding together, will Liz discover that Tom’s attitude over the last four years was all a ruse to hide his true feelings? Or are the two doomed to fail in their co-existence experiment?

A smart, sexy enemies-to-lovers story perfect for fans of The Hating Game, Book Lovers and The Love Hypothesis, The Unbalanced Equation is H. L. Macfarlane’s first foray into contemporary rom-com territory. She swears there are no faeries this time.

The Unbalanced Equation is the first book in the Hot Mess Trilogy – a series of standalone but connected rom-coms set in Glasgow.

I loved this book.

Tom and Liz's initial meeting and mutual attraction before everything went to hell was a cute and entertaining start that had me hooked and it set the scene for why Tom was a bit over the top as her PhD assessor. 

A lot was made of how horrible Tom was to Liz during her PhD but we aren't given any specifics so it was difficult to get overly annoyed about it on her behalf. However, it went on for four years, making me wonder how she was still attracted to the man after that.

Their interactions from when they reconnect in the bar where she works to the inevitable HEA are filled with funny quips and one-liners. There were laugh-out-loud moments all the way through this book but also a few charming scenes. 

Tom lacks good judgement when it comes to manipulating Liz's life so they have to spend more time living together but the story is so cute and funny it's easy to gloss over that. When the time came, the pair made an adorable couple. The side characters who were keenly watching their progress from enemies to lovers were also a likeable, funny and relatable bunch.

Another thing I really loved about Tom and Liz was that they didn't want to get married or have children and they didn't change their minds or have a surprise pregnancy at the last moment. This was refreshing to read and I hope to see more couples like this in mainstream romance. The unbalanced equation is a light-hearted, very funny and low-angst romantic comedy that will lift your spirits.

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