Review copy was received from Library. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary
Narrator: Josh Dylan, Eleanor Tomlinson
Published by Penguin Audio on June 1, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 15 minutes
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Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international best seller The Flatshare.
What if the end of the road is just the beginning?
Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.
Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland - he’ll never get there on time by public transport.
So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart - and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.
When I started The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary, I had only a vague idea of what the book would be about. I mean, a road trip, right? I ended up with much more than I bargained for; a second chance romance with two characters who have a mountain of baggage to climb before they can get to any type of happily ever after.
Unforeseen events find Dylan and Abbie sharing an 400 mile road trip to a mutual friends wedding. Abbie’s wild and unorthodox sister Deb, Dylan’s posh, sardonic mate Marcus, and the mysterious and forgettable Rodney are along for the ride. It’s an awkward, tight squeeze, especially with the proverbial elephant in the back seat- that is, Dylan and Abbie’s failed relationship. It is obvious from the very beginning there is a lot of unresolved hurt and anger simmering just below the surface, but it is littered with so much longing and unrequited desire that I was automatically invested in knowing what happened and hoping they’d find their way back to each other.
The story alternates between the past and the present. I am normally not a huge fan of this method, but Ms. O’Leary uses the technique in a clever way I found enjoyable. In the past, Abbie and Dylan meet in a sprawling seaside villa in the South of France. Heaven, right? Fast forward to the present, where they are wedged into a tiny car stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Yeah, totally NOT heaven. In the present day, there is a stiff formality and animosity between Abbie and Dylan that is so different from the steamy, flirtatious interactions of the past. As the two timelines come closer together, so does the tone and temperature of Abbie and Dylan’s relationship. Each flashback adds a little more context and we begin to understand the heart-shattering events that led to their break-up.
Ms. O’Leary has a talent for keeping her characters human. They mess up big time, have to own up to their faults, and often find themselves getting in the way of their own happiness. There were some weepy-eyed moments, for sure, but rest assured, she doesn’t cheat us out of a happy ending. I loved each and every character in the story. Deb provides a bit of comedic relief and the zany subplot with Rodney stops just shy of being over the top. I would love for Marcus and Deb to find their HEA, although, lord help us, NOT with each other.
I found the crash set-up to be a little implausible, and the logistics of this trip to be downright impossible. Why didn’t Marcus or Dylan just rent a car? Have you ever tried to cram three adults into the back seat of a mini-cooper? Not to mention the amount of luggage, snacks, and equipment Addie and Deb were carrying. While the clown-car visual five adults stuffed in a mini evokes might have been for comedic purposes, I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief and eventually had to pretend they were in something like a Ford Escort in order to keep from fixating on it.
The Road Trip was a delightful ride through the ups and downs of a relationship. It carried enough emotional depth to keep me interested and delivered a very sweet and satisfying ending.
I really enjoyed the narration for this book. It is probably because, being American, I am enthralled with British accents, but I really do feel like the narrators did an excellent job. The pacing and diction was perfect and each character had a clearly recognizable voice.
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