Review of ‘The Couple’ by Helly Acton

Thanks to NetGalley and Bonnier Books for the ARC of this book.

‘The Shelf’ by Helly Acton was probably the best book I read last year, so I was really excited to read a new book by this author. She writes romantic fiction but tries to put an original spin on her stories so they are not as formulaic as usual for books in this genre. I didn’t think ‘The Couple’ quite reached the standards of ‘The Shelf’, but it is a sweet story and a fun read.

‘The Couple’ is set in a world where being single is the most socially acceptable state. The government supports people who are single, they get additional benefits and people who prefer to be in a couple are frowned upon or considered strange. Millie works for Slide, a Tinder/Uber style company, which enables people to meet sexual partners for one night stands. Slide is planning to market a drug which would prevent people from being able to fall in love. Millie has to work with a new colleague, Ben, on the marketing campaign and she is instantly drawn to him.

I liked the love story between Millie and Ben. Ben is an adorable, sweet, non-threatening love interest. I found the world-building a bit clunky. A world where people never want to couple up for longer than one night is so impractical (what about having children, humans’ main biological imperative?) that the idea never fully works. It is interesting to consider whether people would be better off single or in a couple, but the stigmatisation of coupledom didn’t ring true for me.

This book didn’t feel quite as fresh or unpredictable as ‘The Shelf’, but it’s still a good read within the romantic fiction genre. if you haven’t read Helly Acton before, definitely start with ‘The Shelf’ and, if you enjoy her voice, it’s worth giving this book a go.