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 Blue, Boyfriend Material, and What If It’s Us.
As Wren reflects back on the past few years on the cusp of graduation, he regrets never having put himself out there and kissed another guy. This leads him to do Something Big, as mentioned in the book description section. Sending all those emails is bad enough, but Wren has to spend the summer working with Derick, one of the recipients.
Wren loves working at the local drive in movie theatre, but he’s not quite sure how to compartmentalize his longtime summer job now that Derick is also working there. As one might guess, drive in movie theatres have been declining since the advent of the mega multiplex, and the future of the drive in plays a major role in the plot.
While I don’t want to give everything away, I will also say that Wren finds himself trying to earn the trust of a local director, who has been living as a recluse for the past forty years. Wren and Derick’s interactions with her provided a great deal of comic relief.
One of the best things about this book is not whether or not Wren achieves his goal of being kissed, but rather that he comes to the realization that he is demisexual and needs to feel an emotional connection to a potential partner before feeling physical attraction. This explanation solidifies that there is nothing wrong with Wren’s lack of kissing; it just was never the right time. That being said, this is not a novel of sexual awakening per se. Wren does not start the book with never being kissed and end the book with having “gone all the way.” The book’s low heat reflects Wren getting comfortable with himself and with being in a romantic relationship.
I would absolutely recommend Never Been Kissed. This is low angst romance will appeal to YA readers as well as adult readers. While there are moments of conflict, this book is lighthearted and fun. Wren, who serves as the sole narrator, is a good guy with a kind heart, and it was so satisfying to things come together (no pun intended; I already said it was low heat) for him over the course of the book. I’m already looking forward to Janovsky’s next book, which is due to be released later this year.
I received a digital ARC of this book from Sourcebooks Casablanca/NetGalley