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How Not to Fall in Love

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A hardened cynic and a hopeless romantic teach each other about love in this swoony and heartful romance that’s perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and The Upside of Falling.

Harper works in her mom’s wedding shop, altering dresses for petulant and picky brides who are more focused on hemlines than love. After years of watching squabbles break out over wedding plans, Harper thinks romance is a marketing tool. Nothing more. Her best friend Theo is her opposite. One date and he’s already dreaming of happily-ever-afters. He also plays the accordion, makes chain mail for Ren Festers, hangs out in a windmill-shaped tree house, cries over rom-coms, and takes his word-of-the-day calendar very seriously.
When Theo’s shocked to find himself nursing his umpteenth heartbreak, Harper offers to teach him how not to fall in love. Theo agrees to the lessons, as long as Harper proves she can date without falling in love. As the lessons progress and Theo takes them to heart, Harper has a harder time upholding her end of the bargain. She’s also checking out her window to see if Theo’s home from his latest date yet. She's even watching rom-coms. If she confesses her feelings, she’ll undermine everything she’s taught him. Or was he the one teaching her?

336 pages, Hardcover

First published December 21, 2021

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About the author

Jacqueline Firkins

5 books254 followers
Jacqueline's a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She's on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

**A note about my reviews. As is probably obvious, I post reviews primarily to celebrate other authors and their books. I won't say I love a book if I don't, but I will focus on the things I like and/or the things I think readers might want to consider when choosing if a book might be right for them. If you're looking for more critical reviews, they're easy to find on here. We live in a world where tearing people down is often celebrated more strongly than lifting them up. Consider my universal 5-star ratings and my focus-on-the-positive book reviews a teeny-tiny rebellion against that attitude, and one that only works because I'm one voice among many. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to provide thoughtful reviews, no matter the stars. And happy reading.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 233 reviews
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (sick).
346 reviews1,051 followers
January 4, 2022
I didn't expect to find myself liking a best friend to lover because: of course they have to go through with everyone to later realize that their hearts belong to each other.

It was sweet, painful and frenzied all the same. Not bad for my most unfavourable trope.

Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
January 12, 2022
You pretty much know how things will turn out within the first 2 pages but it was still a sweet journey getting there.

Lots of the YA romance tropes were hit in this novel but it is what you would expect in a cookie-cutter light and fluffy teen love story. Not too much more to say, but go in with the right expectations and you should enjoy it.

CW: sexual content but not overly described
Profile Image for Divya.
130 reviews47 followers
June 8, 2021
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

As soon as I requested and received this arc, I looked at the title and the cover and immediately expected a cheesy rom-com that would make me smile, but wouldn’t be all that memorable. I have never been more wrong in my life. How To Not Fall In Love follows Harper Jamison, a girl who, after working in her mother’s bridal shop and witnessing way too many wedding meltdowns, has fallen out of touch with the idea of true love, or even love in general. Her best friend Theo, however, falls in love too easily, and usually finds himself nursing a new heartbreak every week. So Harper offers him something; lessons on how to not fall in love. But as he starts taking her words to heart, she learns to open up her heart to the wild world of being in love.

This book was AMAZING. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. The first thing I loved was how the author didn’t have conflict where there usually is conflict; for example, unaccepting parents, enemies, expectations. Instead, it was a normalized healthy atmosphere. I saw one review talking about how they loved the amount of sex positivity from the parents in this book, and I wholeheartedly agree. It was such a nice change to see a supporting parent who helped their child through absolutely everything.

I loved how not one person was demonized. There was no villain in this book. There was just two kids trying to figure out what they wanted. It made me really happy. Speaking of, I LOVED the other relationships in this book, namely Harper and Pippa. Their friendship was absolutely golden, and (as I said earlier) didn’t have that conflict element that many authors put into friendships. I also loved Harper’s relationship with Felix, and I loved how he wasn't slandered whatsoever.

Now onto the main relationship; Harper and Theo. I’ve never been a friends to lovers kind of person, but this book has changed my mind. It was messy, fun, and so dynamic. I loved how they weren’t a picture perfect relationship, and how it was made very clear that there were issues. But they fit together so well. I loved both of their characters individually as well. I absolutely ADORED Theo. I love characters like him; the attractive yet completely nerdy type. Absolute gold.

Plot-wise, this book was still perfect. Like I said earlier, I expected a cheesy rom-com, which meant I expected a cliche plotline. This was anything but. The tropes were insane, and I was not expecting some of the twists (trying not to spoil, so I’m leaving it there). It was such a welcome change.

Overall, this book blew me away. It is so much more than just an average, cheesy, cliche rom-com. It’s dynamic, funny, fast-paced, and an amazing depiction of complicated, modern love. If I could give this more than 5 stars, I would. Absolutely worth it.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
February 20, 2022
Here’s an adorable YA romance about the blurry line between friendship and love.

Harper doesn’t believe in love. Working at her mom’s bridal shop, she’s seen brides turn to bridezillas and she’s seen all the stress and meanness that comes with getting married, without the good stuff.

Her best friend and next door neighbor, Theo, is the opposite. He’s a fan of rom-coms and the grand romantic gesture, and if anything, he falls too hard too fast. After the latest girl breaks his heart, Harper resolves to teach him how not to fall in love in exchange for his help improving her vocabulary so she can retake the SATs. But there’s one more catch: Harper also needs to date without falling in love.

Of course, Harper, who never dates, is finding it hard not to get emotionally involved. And Theo is succeeding all too well. So as Harper watches him dating and realizes how it makes her feel, she realizes that maybe Theo had it right in the first place—and maybe the question of what love is was in front of her all along.

I thought this was so sweet! Thanks to Clarion Books and Storygram Tours for inviting me on the tour for How Not to Fall in Love and providing a complimentary copy of the book!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2021 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2022/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2021.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Danika Stone.
Author 15 books335 followers
April 23, 2021
I was fortunate to get an ARC of HOW NOT TO FALL IN LOVE, and it went FAR beyond my expectations. I’d loved Jacqueline Firkins’ debut, so I was nervous to start this one. (HEART STRINGS AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS was seriously one of my fave books of 2019!) I should not have worried. I was delightfully surprised to discover that HNTFIL have all the parts I had hoped it would have (a classic retelling, serious heat, and adorable romance) and so much more (sex positivity, wonderful family dynamics, and new characters to ship!)

In a word…? I was smitten!

Harper feels real. Her past heartbreak and the scars she carries from the experience are things I could completely relate to. Her BFF Theo is adorable and an absolutely perfect foil to Harper’s down-on-love perspective, and they agree to share insight on love, with Theo teaching Harper and vice versa. Of course, things do NOT go as planned… Remember that class retelling I mentioned? Yup! THIS is where if appears, with echoes of DON QUIXOTE shaping the larger plot.

One especially strong feature of this book is the way that sex, emotional connections, and sexual relationships are dealt with. I was so pleased to see it being treated in a way that encouraged healthy choices and recognized (without stigmatizing) sexual freedom. Harper’s mom was an uncommon YA mom in this regard, but her willingness to talk about sex was a refreshing aspect to this book.

All in all, I loved Harper’s emotional growth over the story and the deft way that Firkins dealt with issues of the heart. An excellent read!
Profile Image for Kartik.
245 reviews40 followers
June 1, 2022
Update after my reread: Admittedly I am less enamored with this on the second time around. My absolute least favorite trope is miscommunication and it was a pretty big problem that I had difficulty overlooking this time. I also think my reduced admiration has more to do with my changing tastes than any fault of the book itself.

With that being said, I still really really like this book lol. I still loved all the characters, their personalities and their banter. I still think this had a good combination of all the tropes I like in romance, and I'll still recommend and rave about it. I'd probably lower my 5 star rating to a 4.5 due to the miscommunication issues but I'll keep my 5 star rating up for the sake of brevity.
Friends to lovers is superior and no one can tell me otherwise.

Theo and Harper have been best friends since childhood. They have never seen each other as a romantic interest, but soon after dating a classmate, Harper finds herself filled with strange feelings towards Theo, while he also sends mixed signals towards her. Could this undermine their friendship or be the start of something more...

Let's start with the basic fact that this book is TROPE CITY. There were so many clichés in this book but for whatever reason, I found myself captivated instead of annoyed. Nearly every cliché in this book I can explain away:

i) Theo is extremely air-headed, quirky, and eccentric. That only made him more endearing. I found myself rooting for him instead of being annoyed as I usually am with these kinds of characters. I think it's because it's so common to see female characters written this way, that seeing a male character behave this way made me find him adorable. There's something so funnily subversive about a teenage boy who's hot and ripped think and act like a 4th grader. Plus, his eccentricity is never brought up in comparison to anything else; he's never said to be "different" because of his interests, they're just part of who he is, and I appreciated that.

ii) The scene where characters have to share only one bed was my FAVOURITE part of the book. The "will they, won't they" tension was ELECTRIC. I felt like the author really took her time to understand the situation and deliver a resolution that felt satisfying but also real. Whenever I think back on this book my mind immediately goes to this scene, because I was so invested in the tension being delivered here.

iii) The miscommunication situation that happens in the end made the payoff that much more exciting to read. Yes it was annoying to see them not confess, but SO SATISFYING to see them get together when they actually do. I was giggling like a kid when we got to the confession scene. Speaking of which, the final scene was one of those chasing after a crush in the rain at the last moment and grandly confessing your love and there's a big sweeping kiss and I was SO giddy with excitement reading it. I know many people would find this sort of conclusion annoying, but I loved it.

But I think the main reason why this book worked so well for me was that the plot (mostly) stayed within the realm of reality. There were some plot contrivances, but nothing too over the top that would make me want to throw the book against the wall, as is often the case with many other romances. The decisions made here felt real and what real people would actually do in those situations. Plus, the characters are imperfect and do make some bad decisions, but grow and learn from them. The page number was also pretty good, straddling the tight line between delivering tension, while also not making it go on for too long unnecessarily. Like I said, the tension was my favourite part of the whole book so clearly the author must've done something right.

However, I should warn people who go into this not expecting TOO much out of it. It is a YA romance and so obviously some more complex topics are avoided, some decisions are made purely because the plot requires the characters to make them, the side characters are barely developed at all, and sometimes the character interactions do feel far fetched. But at the same time, I still really loved it! I didn't care about any of the lack of explanations and just DESPERATELY wanted Harper and Theo to get together.

Reading this review back, it sounds less like I'm making a case for this book and more so like I'm just gushing about how much I personally enjoyed it. Which I suppose was inevitable given that so much of reading is based on subjectivity. This is one of those books that had the perfect storm of all the tropes I liked (friends to lovers, himbos, big cheesy romantic gestures) and I read it at the perfect time when I needed some fun escapism. I can't guarantee that everyone will love it, but I personally did and that's good enough (for me anyway).
Profile Image for Lauren.
526 reviews80 followers
January 20, 2022
A huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review, all opinions are my own.

This book was so cute. I loved Harper and despite her being blind to certain things, it felt real. Everything came together in a way that thrilled me, but there were some realistic bumps along the way.

I flew through this book in what would’ve been one sitting, but ended up being two. It was so cute, I had to know how it all played out.

I definitely want to check out other books by this author because I loved the way she writes. Overall, a very cute romance, and a very quick read.
Profile Image for Becky.
5,215 reviews103 followers
February 9, 2022
First sentence: I'm kneeling in front of Frosty the Snowman's lesser-known and more flamboyant cousin, Fluffy the Sparkle Monster. Buried inside Fluffy is a very slim, very non-fluffy bride-to be.

Premise/plot: Harper, our heroine, is skeptical when it comes to romance. Her next-door-neighbor/best friend, Theo, however, is all in for romance. He falls in love on the first date no matter how that first date goes. Harper wants to protect Theo's heart from his thousandth break-up (I am definitely exaggerating on the number). The set-up is simple: 1) can Harper date her crush, Felix, without falling in love??? 2) can Theo learn to read the signs better and not fall head over heels especially when it's not reciprocated.

Meanwhile, while all these dates, near-dates, and non-dates are happening, Harper has to help manage her mom's bridal shop.

My thoughts: Keep two things in mind really, 1) I have not read all that much YA romance in the past few years. I did read a good bit of YA romance a decade ago. But not lately, so maybe a LOT has changed. 2) Reading is subjective obviously.

Predictable Tropes. Possible issue #1. This isn't my issue, mind you, but one I've seen addressed generally speaking when talking about romances. This one makes use of both the boy-next-door that-I-never-noticed AND best friends to lovers. Harper and Theo's togetherness is inevitable from page one. Everyone knows it.

Love Triangles. Possible issue #2. This can be a little more problematic for me generally speaking. In this one, there is a definite love triangle--or a very weak love rectangle. Harper is lusting after Felix and Theo. Theo is lusting after Harper, but, "dating" the people he's matching with on an app. And also Harper's friend/co-worker, Pippa. Felix has eyes only for Harper, at least so far as we can tell as readers. But Harper, as I mentioned, has eyes for multiple guys at the exact same time. Perhaps because she doesn't believe in love and romance?

Smutty content. I would imagine that 90% of readers would not find the content problematic. I know without a doubt that I am in the minority here. I speak up because even though I'm not in the majority, I don't think I'm completely alone either. Sometimes when you're trying to decide if a book is for you or not for you, it helps to find reviews that mention the level/degree of "smuttiness" for lack of a better word.

What I liked: The premise has potential. This could be a cute/adorable teen rom/com with film potential. You can almost hear the soundtrack. You know every step of the journey before the opening credits are finished, but you are left with a big smile on your face. Did you notice my use of "could"? I think the potential was there. And I think some/many/most might enjoy this one exactly as is.

The biggest strength is the characterization of Theo. She does a great job in showing (not telling) exactly why Harper falls head over heels in love with him.

I also appreciated that Felix was never rejected because he was "bad" or "a jerk." So often with love triangles, one is "better" than the other. Perhaps one is controlling or has a temper or is neglectful or is narcissistic, or is pushy/demanding. Felix has a certain amount of swoon-factor going for him.

What I didn't like: I tend to think of romances as being on a spectrum. 0 being no sexual content. 10 being might as well be a movie. 5 being PG-13. I found the novel to be VERY graphic. I'd rate it somewhere between an 8 and a 9. As I said, some readers may be HURRAY, bring on the steamy-steam! I'm not the right reader for this one.
Profile Image for Samantha Hastings.
Author 34 books199 followers
April 16, 2021
Harper has helped enough brides with their dresses to realize that love isn’t real. Her best friend, Theo, on the other hand, falls in love every week. In perfect romcom fashion they make a deal: Harper will teach Theo how not to fall in love and Theo will teach Harper how to love. They both start dating other people and the romantic tangles ensue. The only way to solve the problem? An over-the-top gesture of love.

A witty and nuanced modern retelling of Cervantes’ Don Quixote that will make you want your own windmill treehouse, accordion, and epee sword. It’s both charming and clever, with enough SAT words (Harper’s studying for it) and alliterations to get you top marks in any test. The cast is diverse and includes two wonderful married moms. This book is sex positive, but also addresses protection and the emotions involved. To love is brave, to fight for love...beautiful.

It’s an impossibly dreamy read!

(Totally doesn’t matter, but I loved the interior of the book! The fonts, the hearts, umbrellas, and coffee cup illustrations. So perfect.)
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 1 book4 followers
May 31, 2021
How Not to Fall in Love by Jacqueline Firkins was delightful! It is set in New Hope, PA which is one of my absolute favorite places. Many of my own teen days were spent exploring the shops and I could immediately picture Main Street and the bridge over the Delaware. The two main characters are only 17 and it is the summer before the start of their senior year of high school. Harper has sworn off love, but her best friend Theo is a sensitive soul who always falls hard but gets his heart broke. So Harper decides to teach him how not to fall headfirst over heels in love and he agrees as long as she also agrees to give dating a try. When I read the description of the book, I thought that meant dating each other, but the story took a different path towards finding love. Sometimes you have to make some mistakes first. The book is marketed as a YA book for 14 and up, but sexuality is a very open topic in the book. The characters are diverse and all uniquely crafted. I think part of the big appeal for me was how familiar I am with the location and being able to picture the scenes, but the story was woven with so much detail that I had no trouble envisioning everything else. It was a feel good story even if it did start out in the friend-zone… I am also thrown by the fact that dating apps for teens are real and do exist. Who knew?
Profile Image for zar (david kostyk’s version).
90 reviews3 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 24, 2023
you know i will eat it up when it’s friends to lovers but this…. i didn’t really feel any chemistry between the mcs. liked theo tho but the fmc ehhh and all of a sudden she was like yeah he’s hot??? like what??? this was a miss
Profile Image for Paige.
180 reviews
May 11, 2022
Nothing is better than childhood friends to lovers 💕4.75 stars
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,442 reviews233 followers
November 22, 2021
Theo and Harper had been life-long best friends, but they couldn’t be more different when it came to romance. Theo was a hopeless romantic who wore his heart on his sleeve. Harper was jaded after a bad relationship and years of seeing the havoc wedding planning can cause while working at her mother’s bridal boutique. After Theo had his heart broken, yet again, Harper wanted to school him in the ways of NOT falling in love. But her plan may have backfired, as Harper found herself falling fast.

I had so much love for Firkins’ previous book, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things. The book was one of those made-me-happy-books, and I am here to say, Firkins has done it one again with How Not to Fall in Love.

Obviously, I had high expectations for this book, but I didn’t think I would relate to the characters so much. When I first met Harper, I thought she was just a cynic from working in the wedding industry. We have all heard the horror stories and seen the reality shows, but her complicated emotions regarding love and romance had deep roots. Things happened, and she felt unlovable, unimportant, easy to leave behind. There were a few times where I felt like Harper was in my head with respect to some of the damage she was grappling with. So, yeah, I felt a lot as I read Harper’s story and that connection had me deeply invested in seeing this to the end.

even though I do want to be miss-able at least once in my life.

I mentioned that Harper was in the wedding industry, and thus, good chunks of this book take place at Beneath the Veil, her mother’s bridal boutique. I loved this! If you haven’t checked out Firkins’ IG, you should, because then you could drool over her incredible dress creations. It was nice to see her incorporate that love of fashion and construction in this book. There were also these lovely moments shared with Harper and the brides which provided her with a different perspective regarding love and relationships.

Not just people. Person. I need another person. I want to feel like all of those songs on the radio. Not the sad ones but the other ones. The big, mushy I’d do anything for you songs. I want to fight for someone. I want a hand to reach for and an eye to catch across a crowded room. I want to get up each day knowing there’s a person in the world who’s as excited to see me as I am to see her.

Friendship also played a big role in this book. Harper and Theo had grown up together. They shared a myriad of memories and knew each other better than they knew themselves. It was such a treat spending time with them, and I experienced some best friend envy at some point too.

Let’s do a little Theo appreciation. He was a precious soft boy! It pained me that he kept choosing the wrong girls, because the right ones would value him and all his nerdy glory. He loved words, the accordion, fencing, and LARPing. There were few, but I enjoyed those LARPing scenes so much. You know what? I liked all the word play too.

How Not to Fall in Love had a winning combination of family, friendship, and romance. This was exactly what I needed to help get me out of my funk. When I finished this book, I was all happy tears and heart-eyes, and I swear, my heart definitely expanded three sizes, too. Such a sweet story, and I reveled seeing Harper learn from her past as she opened her heart to love.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Abby Hargreaves.
343 reviews39 followers
August 7, 2021
How Not to Fall in Love is one of my most anticipated reads this year. I've been pining for another from Firkins since I read her debut, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things. As both are loose adaptations of classic literature (combined with how much Firkins' first made me crave the next), I couldn't help but compare them as I read HNtFiL and while it didn't quite measure up to HSaOBT for me, it was still really good. Harper, the daughter of a wedding dress seamstress, has a cynical outlook on love after she experienced a terrible breakup post-summer camp. Her best friend Theo can't stop falling in love and getting his heart broken every week. They just might have something to teach each other and set up an agreement: Harper will try dating the cute guy at the gym across the street and Theo will stop heading straight for love with every girl he dates. But they might have more to learn from each other than just this.

This retelling of Don Quixote (which I haven't read, so I can't give an accurate assessment as to how well the plots/themes match up, though I understand a windmill plays a role in DQ, and readers looking for that feature will find it here, too) is fun and modern, including trappings such as the contemporary wedding industry, LARPing, and Renaissance Faires (or, something similar for this particular brand of LARPing). Firkins leads the reader through a plot that is somewhat predictable and formulaic, including heavy miscommunication. It puts a little bit of a damper on things and is mostly what kept this from being a five-star read for me, but I can't fault the book for it too much, knowing that it was based on an existing work. The benefit of the obvious formula is good pacing, however. Especially once everything was established and tension continued to rise, I didn't want to put the book down even if I felt like I knew what was coming next.

As far as characters go (and, again, perhaps my fault for making comparisons), I found Harper to not be as interesting as I wanted her to be. While her cynicism is necessary to the plot, it sometimes gets in the way of Harper having other personality traits. Theo, Pippa, Felix, and Harper's mother had enough dimension to make them easy to differentiate and they fit nicely into the story. No one comes off especially well-developed, however, which was a letdown after what I remember from HSaOBT.

HNtFiL also lacks the nuance and maturity that I really loved in HSaOBT. If you're looking for another HSaOBT, you won't find it here, but if you're able to better separate the two, HNtFiL is a fun YA contemporary romance that is still a good step above most of the rest out there. Firkins' characters have an air of realism to them, even if they're a bit less developed than I would have liked, and the chemistry between Theo and Harper (and Harper and Felix) is obvious. Despite my gripes, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jenn.
4,073 reviews43 followers
September 25, 2021
Harper is still not over her first love at last summer's camp, so this summer she plans to work at her mom's bridal boutique and absolutely not fall in love. Meanwhile, her best friend Theo moves from relationship to relationship, going all in and is devastated when each one ends. So Harper decides to teach him how to not fall in love, while Theo pretty much dares her to do the opposite. What could possibly go wrong? I loved this sweet romance with all the character quirks.
Profile Image for Janie.
830 reviews
April 26, 2022
A great finding-myself story that has multiple good guys and no villains. I love the close and supportive family and friends that are there for the rough times that turn into golden times.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,065 reviews59 followers
October 31, 2021
How Not To Fall In Love is a cute, sexy and slightly exasperating (just kiss him already!! or maybe don’t kiss him!!! arghhh!!!) YA romance novel.

Harper knows all about love. Or at least how phoney it is. She has seen enough bridezillas in her mother’s wedding shop to know love is fake. And let’s not even talk about her last relationship. It’s better of avoiding. When her best friend, heartbroken after another failed relationship, asks for her help on how not to fall in love, Harper makes him a deal. She’ll start dating and prove she can keep her emotions out of it, if she can teach him how to protect his own heart. But as Harper finds herself falling for her new not-her-boyfriend and Theo finds himself inundated with interested girls, Harper discovers love isn’t as easy to figure out as she thought. Especially when the only guy she finds herself thinking about might just be that boy next door after all.

Love triangle, best friends to lovers, not quite fake dating but maybe like arranged dating or bets around dating. This book uses lots of YA romance tropes and does it really well.

I really enjoyed Harper’s voice. She is cynical, kind, caring, sensitive and very touchy feely (seriously, with the amount of snuggling, cuddling, touching, patting and generally being in close contact at all times they are, I’m not sure how she missed her attraction to Theo.) Harper is also good at business and that’s why she thinks she can make dating and love follow her patterns, predictions and spreadsheets. Not so much.

I loved the wedding dress business backdrop for this story. Of course, it gives some great comparisons for Harper to make about love and romance but who doesn’t love a sparkly wedding gown? I also equally loved Theo’s LARPing and the time he and Harper spend at the LARPing event. So cool.

Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, Harper falls for both guys in different ways. Yes, the reader at all times knows who the right guy is for Harper. Does it take a while for her to wake up to this? YES!!!

This book is also being described as “sex positive”. That means there are lots of touching, heavy making out scenes and sexual references and relationships with details. It makes for a sexy story. Harper is also confident about sex but does have some learning to do about the power of sex in relationships and being more careful of it. Her mother is a very kind and understanding mother, guiding her and yet not offering too much advice.

Need something light, fun and sexy to read? Try How Not To Fall In Love.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
Profile Image for Shawna.
116 reviews
May 12, 2021
It is the summer before Harper’s senior year of high school. She works in her mother’s bridal shop. Her mom is the creative one who designs the dresses, while Harper is the one who handles the business side of things. After years of watching petulant and picky brides, Harper has become a cynic when it comes to love. Harper has neglected her friendships over the past year while helping her mom who has found herself in some trouble with the IRS. Harper and her co-worker, Pippa, discreetly obsess about the hot guy who works out at the gym across the street from the bridal shop. Felix goes to school with Harper, but he’s always seemed a little out of her reach. Harper’s best friend and next-door neighbor, Theo, is a hopeless romantic who is always falling in love. One day after work Harper finds Theo, broken-hearted after his latest breakup. They strike a deal. Theo agrees to Harper’s offer to teach him how not to fall in love if she can date someone without falling in love. Harper finds herself drawn to both the athletic and sweet Felix and the quirky and adorable Theo. Will she end up with either boy in the end or will she sabotage herself when she can't admit her true feelings? This is a sweet story about finding love and holding on to it. The characters are well developed (I especially loved the colorful Pippa). It's a fast-paced fun read that will take you back to your first love memories. Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Patsy Goodsir.
56 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2021
I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this Y.A. novel. A tale of young love, confusion, friendship, I loved it. Sometimes we look elsewhere when it's right there in front of us. Won't give any spoilers, but I loved the relationship Harper had with her mother. Theo was an intriguing character and such a wonderful best friend.
Harper sees it all in her mother's bridal shop and wonders if the prospective brides remember the point of the whole exercise. Theo is her best friend and boy next door, full of eccentricities and constantly falling in love at the drop of a hat. Harper makes it her task to educate him on the realities of love and life. The story takes many twists and turns and I found it impossible to put this book down.
Profile Image for Carolina Colleene.
Author 1 book32 followers
November 17, 2021
Language: R (72 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG
Harper is doing her best to keep her mom’s wedding dress shop moving towards the black, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. But when her best friend, Theo, has his heart broken again, Harper offers to teach him how not to fall in love -- by getting into a relationship herself to show him how it’s done. Falling in love and not falling in love turn out to be much harder than anyone anticipated.
I had been looking forward to reading this book for months. In some ways, like how each character’s quirky personality permeated the pages, the wait was well worth it. However, I was disappointed by how big of a role sex played in the relationships and, thus, the book itself. The back and forth between Harper and Theo was agonizing as they simply failed to communicate clearly and then rushed forward without thinking and went back to failing to communicate. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, discussions of sex, innuendo and implied sex, and nudity.
Reviewed for https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Caitlin (CMAReads).
1,024 reviews42 followers
December 12, 2021
Thanks to the author for giving me an advanced copy.
This is one of the best YA books I read this year. Harper, a high schooler, has sworn off love after working at her mom's bridal studio. I loved getting the glimpse into this world. It's her mom's passion and there's a good balance here of figuring out how to run the business side and yet still be a teenager. Harper also swears off love because of all she has witnessed in her work. But Firkins knows how to write such a well crafted love triangle. I loved Felix and Theo. She can't resist love even though she thinks she doesn't want it because these characters are so genuine. I honestly didn't know who Harper would end up with, and I would've loved to see her end up with either of the young men because they both were such lovable characters.
Along with the teen love, there's also lots of vocab words in here because Harper needs to do well on her SATs. This adds a depth of fun word play to the different characters. This was a joy to read, and I can't wait to read more from this author.
Profile Image for Jennieke Cohen.
Author 2 books378 followers
May 29, 2021
This book is so delightful! I was lucky enough to read this early. I stayed up way too late finishing it one night and, no, I didn't regret the lack of sleep one bit! Harper spends all her free time working at her mom’s bridal shop, and she’s quite sure love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s also sick of watching her BFF Theo getting his heart stomped on over and over. So Harper decides to give Theo lessons in how NOT to fall in love.

What follows from there is the best kind of teen rom-com full of steamy moments, awkwardness, LARPing, tons of wedding dresses, and a nod to Don Quixote. Jacqueline Firkins also has included some clever word play throughout the book (something she also did to great effect in HEARTS, STRINGS, AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS), which I’m going to go ahead and attribute as part of her signature style. For fans of rom-coms and contemporary retellings, I recommend you pick this one up as soon as it’s out!
Profile Image for Pine Reads Review.
452 reviews9 followers
January 9, 2022
“After working in this store from the time I was old enough to thread a sewing needle or tally a spreadsheet, it’s hard to believe weddings have anything to do with love. Frankly, it’s hard to believe in love at all.”

Hardened cynic Harper has been working in her mom’s wedding shop for years. She’s seen everything from petty arguments to full-on screaming matches and has a hard time believing that love even exists. So when her hopeless romantic best friend and neighbor, Theo, comes to her nursing his umpteenth heartbreak, Harper makes a deal with him: she’ll teach him how not to fall in love…but only if she proves she can date without falling in love too. At first, everything seems to be going great, but as the lessons progress, Harper realizes this love thing may not actually be so simple. When her feelings start complicating things, she has to decide whether to listen to her heart or her head—and figure out who was truly doing the teaching and the learning after all.

Jacqueline Firkins has crafted a masterful love story full of heart, humor, and hope. Harper and Theo are perfect foils of each other, and I had such a great time following their story. How Not to Fall in Love is fabulously full of fun characters, brilliant twists, and a fantastic best-friends-to-lovers romance. I especially enjoyed learning about LARPing along with Harper and how Theo’s quirks aren’t put down but applauded. The world could use some more zany people! The wedding shop setting absolutely sparkles with charm, and I really loved the dynamic between the three women who work at the shop: Harper, her mom, and Pippa. Firkins doesn’t shy away from discussing the very real internal turmoil that love can cause, and I think she does an excellent job with it. Overall, How Not to Fall in Love is perfect for fans of fun and flirty teen romances.

Content Warnings: Strong language, mentioned eating disorder, toxic relationship, intimate scenes, underage drinking, anxiety, mentioned infidelity, absent father

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, author interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!
Profile Image for Yolanda.
666 reviews
June 25, 2021
*3.5 Stars* - review to be posted on my blog on 11/22/21

How Not to Fall in Love is a really quick, light hearted, young adult romance story. It’s about a girl named Harper who works at her mom’s bridal shop, helping her alter dresses for excited and stressed out brides. Being in the bridal industry has made Harper a cynic about love. It doesn’t help that her quirky best-friend and next door neighbor, Theo, falls in love easily and gets his heart broken often. So she tries to help him not fall so fast by giving him lessons in dating.

As for Harper she finally talks to Felix, her crush, and tries to show Theo how to keep things casual except it’s a bit challenging for Harper because Felix is perfect. Theo and Harper both date other people but it’s clear that the person Theo really likes is Harper. She’s pretty clueless about it until she thinks it’s too late for them.

I think I should note the boys in this book – cry! Yes, they both do and that’s rare to see in books. Theo is sensitive, very quirky, dorky, so smart and oh so cute. I can definitely see why Harper started falling for him – he seems to give really good hugs, emotional support and vocab lessons! They have such a cute friendship filled with affection. Felix, on the other hand is perfect as well, it just came down to who knew Harper the best, and that was Theo.

Random Notes:
Harper has to pick between two boys so if you aren’t into love triangles then you might not be into this love story.

I think the “lessons” Harper was supposed to help Theo with was kind of lost in the story. I didn’t see too many lessons going on, just some advice she’d give him about when to call a girl back and such. Also I thought it was weird that Harper was giving lessons when she only had one ex-boyfriend and wasn’t the dating type – it took her awhile to talk to Felix. For awhile all she did was stare at him from the shop window.

It’s a sex positive book which was nice because yes, teens do have intercourse. I’m glad Harper’s mom was there for her to talk about her love life.

I’m not a fan of this book cover! I really think they could make it as cute as the story is, at least.

Final Thoughts:
This one is a really quick read and I think it’s such a sweet love story between two best friends. I enjoyed Harper and Theo’s relationship a lot. I thought the love triangle was handled pretty well considering Felix was a good guy too and it was no fault of his that things didn’t work out – sometimes, that’s just the way it is in young love. If you like a friends to lovers romance story, you may enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Emily.
100 reviews
January 8, 2022
This cover is pretty ugly but inside is a YA romance that fits among the others. It's no Instant Karma or Charming as a Verb (or Rachel Lynn Solomon or Tweet Cute, or you know, any of the books and authors I've liked more strongly these past two years (I'm reminding myself they exist and there's actually a lot of them)). It's very Better Than The Movies, Five Ways to Fall Out of Love tier (books I don't care at all about for the record). And the male MC is like exceptionally geeky and the female MC is a pretty cliche protagonist and the story does the choosing between the best friend and this other perfect boy thing where it's kind of cheaty and unnecessary. But. The two MCs are cute together, what can I say? I didn't hate this at all. And the author's narrative about teenage relationships and sex seems healthy enough.

(Side note this is like the one time ever I thought two protagonists were about to have sex and went no please no not now. I'm usually like just have sex already. This is actually an unrelated tangent with nothing to do with my previous statement (this book is definitely not anti-sex or anything) but gosh my poor nerves)
Profile Image for Robyn.
1,790 reviews116 followers
January 4, 2022
Jacqueline Firkins

Harper works for her mother in her bridal shop and lives next door to the perfect boy, Theo. He is geeky, funny, cute, has his own windmill treehouse, accordion, and epee sword, and he is her absolute best friend. Harper holds her emotions in check and poor Theo is always trying to give his heart away and usually gets it back with holes all smashed in it.

Harper listens and gives the shoulder for Theo to cry on and then decides to give him a quick lesson in how to date and NOT fall in love, thus keeping your heart intact. Harper and Theo are meant for each other if only they could see it. But then the tables reversed and Theo gets hard and Harper turns like a marshmallow. Theo tells her he can't be this way, he has to love bravely.

Harper has to make decisions.

I am not usually a big fan of rom-com, but this one was just a bit different... more a love story than rom, but the com was still there. I found it charming and sharp (like a sword). All of the characters were positive influences and the book was sweet in all possible good ways. I actually really enjoyed it. It is YA, but gosh some of the best books are.

4 stars

Happy Reading!
156 reviews2 followers
January 19, 2022
How Not To Fall In Love by Jacqueline Firkins

Harper works in her mum's bridal shop and has seen enough of the wedding world to have become a total love cynic. Her best friend and neighbour, Theo, is a hopeless romantic and is always getting his heart broken. So Harper and Theo come up with a plan - Theo will let Harper teach him how to date without giving his heart away, but only if Harper can prove that she can date without falling in love.

The story of Harper and Theo follows a well worn path - friends to lovers, the boy next door, the reformed love cynic - but OMG it does it well.

The characters are relatable, loveable and fun.

The reasons for Harper's cynicism is believable and understandable. The friendship between Harper and Theo feels real and their twists and turns to love may end up happily ever after but not in a way that makes you feel overloaded by sweetness..

Definitely a recommended read for lovers of YA romance.

Thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the review copy of this book.
Profile Image for Jenni.
545 reviews18 followers
October 10, 2021
How Not To Fall In Love is a YA rom-com that follows the friends to lovers storyline. Knowing that going into it, you know exactly how it will play out. Harper and Theo live next door to each other, where they share a comfortable relationship for many years, almost like brother and sister. And then Harper starts noticing that Theo is hot. And getting jealous of his dates with other girls. But she can't really think of Theo in that way, can she?

Meanwhile, Theo is obviously in love with Harper but she's too blind to see all of the signs. It's frustrating how clueless she is for most of the book. This is a fun story to see come together (finally) although it took too long for them to get together.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shannon.
4,061 reviews186 followers
December 31, 2021
This was a heartwarming new adult romance featuring jaded at love Harper and her best friend Theo. Whereas Theo seems to fall in love instantly and constantly has his heart broken, Harper has a hard time opening up to the possibility of love after getting burned by her first serious boyfriend. When the two friends make a pact to help each other out, Harper to get Theo to try to go more slowly, and Theo to help Harper finally take a chance on love with her new crush Felix.

This one gave me a lot of Better than the movies vibes and Rachel Lynn Solomon's We can't keep meeting like this. Very sex positive, with a beautiful mother-daughter relationship. I fell hard for Theo and Harper and was cheering them on to get their HEA. Full of laughs as well as some tears, this is a great YA love story geared towards older teens. Great on audio and definitely recommended!

CW: closed door sexual activity
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