Review: “Leo Loves Aries” by Anyta Sunday

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: A new person will enter your life in the early year, Leo. Look past any moments of frustration they might bring and laugh—this could be the start of a thriving friendship.

Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…

Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.

When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.

All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be the one for her, and the friend for him.

But watch out, Leo, the stars have a surprise in store…

Review: Thank you to Netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

DNF at 39%

The idea of the zodiac signs being tied into a slow burn queer romance is what really got me interested in this book when I saw it. Unfortunately, none of those three traits worked for me in this book. I guess was expecting this to read more like an edited book and less like a generic fanfic. The whole time I read Leo Loves Aries I was forcing myself to “just get through the next chapter then you can take a break.”

The part I was most excited to see was a plot with astrology tied into it, but I didn’t get that. At the beginning, Theo and Leone’s mother read their yearly horoscope to them, but they don’t even believe in the stuff themselves, so they pretty much brush it off. The only part of their mother’s lecture that sinks in is that Aries is very compatible with Leo. This starts Theo’s plan to find an Aries man for his sister, and near immediately finds out Jamie is an Aries. Other than that, there wasn’t much about astrology. At least Theo and Leone act like stereotypical Leos. I found some Aries aspects in Jamie like his wit and sense of humor, but he also had quite a few traits that didn’t typically fit with Aries. Honestly, I would’ve guessed he was a Capricorn if I hadn’t been told. The reason for his non-fitting traits could have been explained by birth charts, but there wasn’t any talk of astrology past the first few chapters. That was the biggest disappointment.

I don’t know what it is about the romance genre, but it takes so much to get me interested. So maybe this was doomed from the start. What really bugged me from the start is that this is another “I didn’t know I was gay until I met you” plotlines. Don’t get me wrong, these plots can totally work (see: Honestly Ben), but this one really didn’t. Theo spends so much of his time trying to set Jamie up with his sister, Leone so that she can move on from her ex who is about to marry Theo’s ex, but apparently hangs out with Jamie enough that he falls for him? Talk about complicated.

Of course, you can tell by the description alone that Theo and Jamie end up together, not Leone and Theo, but this is also really obvious within the text. From the start, Jamie is flirting with Theo, and Theo flirts with Jamie without realizing, which I wouldn’t expect from a “friends to lovers” book. Not only that, but the relationship feels forced. The only thing Theo and Jamie have in common is economics, but that’s only because Jamie is amazing at it and Theo desperately needs to pass his econ class. I didn’t finish the book, but I got almost halfway and still, I didn’t feel the two click.

Then there was Theo’s immediate jealousy of Jamie’s friend Sean. All Jamie did be mention that he was helping Sean move into his new place and Theo got defensive. That’s not even a romantic thing for Jamie to do. Theo also had not shown signs of being attracted to Jamie previously, so the jealousy was awkwardly placed, to say the least. There are better ways to develop the romance and create angst than this.

Alright, so, I don’t have a twin sister, or even a sibling close in age to me, but I have plenty of friends with one or the other, and the twins’ relationship also felt unnatural. It’s hard to describe, but there wasn’t much familial chemistry. A lack of sibling rivalry (although maybe it comes in later with them both interested in Jamie), a lack of talking about family inside jokes and stories from growing up, etc. They felt like two friends who weren’t that close and liked to lightly pick on each other. Also if the main characters were going to be twins, wouldn’t it have made more sense to make them Geminis? 😉 Guess not, since this astrology aspect was nothing but a quirk to make the synopsis stand out.

One of the few things that makes the twins connect is that Leone is blind and Theo has to help her every once in a while. However, Leone doesn’t read like a blind character. She reads more like a character who is blind for the sake of diversity. What I mean by this is that her blindness is only mentioned when she’s put in a situation where she needs to be lead around, and even then is only briefly mentioned. There is nothing about her reading braille or using a cane to navigate or having other tools that blind people use every day. She’s the type of disabled character that is disabled for show and is written in a way that you can tell the author is scared of messing up this representation so they almost avoid talking about it. Yes, it’s horrible to see disabled characters whose most prominent feature is their disability, but this isn’t any better. It’s entirely possible to explore the character’s disability while also giving them other aspects of their life, but Sunday seemed to have just avoided talking about it at all. Maybe she shouldn’t have made Leone blind.

Final thought: Overall, I guess Virgo readers just aren’t compatible with writers on the Cancer/Leo cusp. I really wish women would stop writing m/m romances.

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