ARC Review – Never Been Kissed

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Never Been Kissed by Timothy Janovsky, a queer romance novel that sounded so cute I had to bump it to the top of my TBR.

Dear (never-been-quite-over-you) Crush,
It’s been a few years since we were together, but I can’t stop thinking about the time we almost…

Wren Roland has never been kissed, but he wants that movie-perfect ending more than anything. Feeling nostalgic on the eve of his birthday, he sends emails to all the boys he (ahem) loved before he came out. Morning brings the inevitable Oh God What Did I Do?, but he brushes that panic aside. Why stress about it? None of his could-have-beens are actually going to read the emails, much less respond. Right?

Enter Derick Haverford, Wren’s #1 pre-coming-out-crush and his drive-in theater’s new social media intern. Everyone claims he’s coasting on cinematic good looks and his father’s connections, but Wren has always known there’s much more to Derick than meets the eye. Too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about the infamous almost-kiss that once rocked Wren’s world.

Whatever. Wren’s no longer a closeted teenager; he can survive this. But as their hazy summer becomes consumed with a special project that may just save the struggling drive-in for good, Wren and Derick are drawn ever-closer…and maybe, finally, Wren’s dream of a perfect-kiss-before-the-credits is within reach.

A feel-good summer LGBTQIA+ New Adult RomCom, perfect for fans of Red White & Royal BlueBoyfriend Material, and What If It’s Us.

***Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was such a cute book, and I loved it even more than I expected, which was a lot because of my love for its comps. The plot was perfectly paced, and I enjoyed both the romance and non-romance subplots equally. It had some of my favorite tropes (second chance romance, forced proximity, friends to lovers) along with plenty of humor that kept me chuckling throughout my time reading it.

The queer and mental health representation were both really good. I liked the author’s depiction of the characters’ struggles with coming to terms with their sexual identities. I especially liked seeing the demisexual representation and found the main character’s story and head space to be compelling vehicles for delivering a better understanding of this particular sexual orientation. Wren’s character also provided an honest look at living with anxiety and how it can impact different facets of life, including relationships. I related to this aspect of his life almost instantly and appreciated how well it was conveyed in the narrative.

I quickly fell in love with all of the characters in this book, even the cantankerous Alice. Wren, Derick, and Alice were all well-developed, three-dimensional characters with interesting backgrounds and compelling emotional obstacles to overcome. Wren and Derick had good chemistry, and I enjoyed reading about their shared history and the budding romance between them. The secondary characters were also a delight and added quite a bit of comedy to the story, but I do wish they had been a bit more fleshed out. They just felt a bit one-dimensional and didn’t really develop all that much as a result of the story.

The setting of the story was fantastic. I loved the drive-in and the small town vibes it created. The sub-plots about Alice’s history in the film industry and working to save the drive-in were just as compelling to me as the romance. All of it came together to tell a great story full of heart that highlighted the turbulence of young adulthood in a beautiful way.

Overall, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book. It would be a great summer read, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future projects by this author. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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