Apparently, Statistics Can Be Sexy

A review of Christina Lauren’s The Soulmate Equation

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

(Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Specific book links below are affiliate links.)

I will confess that when I first encountered a synopsis of Christina Lauren’s latest novel, The Soulmate Equation, I shrugged and passed it by. Statistics? Love matches based on genetics? A seven-year-old child as a key character in the plot?

None of these things read like a book I’d be interested in, and I have the memory of struggling through the audiobook of Such a Fun Age to prove it. As much as I adored In A Holidaze, the first Christina Lauren book I read late last year, I assumed The Soulmate Equation just wasn’t a book for me.

Except then I kept seeing people talking about the book and how delightful it was. I reminded myself that, hey, I’m trying to read books that fall outside what I’d normally gravitate towards, right?

So, my mouse found its way to the request button on Netgalley, and the publisher approved my request (big thanks to Gallery Books for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review!)

Dubiously and hopefully, perhaps not unlike someone viewing a genetic love match notification, I began reading.

Cover image courtesy of Goodreads

The basic premise is this — GeneticAlly is a company that has a fancy algorithm/neural network/science thing that compares people’s DNA to generate a percentage of a biological love match. Basically, matches in certain genetic codes are scientific predictors of relationship potential. There are different levels of compatibility, from the basic Base Match to the rarer Titanium and Platinum matches.

And then, there’s the Diamond matches — ones that fall above 90% match. I will confess that reading this description took me back to my OKCupid days, wherein I quickly soured on the idea that percentage matches based on questions could or could not predict how likely it was that a guy would ghost you. That was the real 90% probability for most of my dating history.

But I digress.

Single mother Jess has been doing things on her own, with the help of her grandparents and best friend, for a long time. While her single mother status occasionally makes her feel lonely at school events, she doesn’t think she’s looking for a love match.

Best friend and romance novelist Fizzy isn’t looking for love, either. But she’s got a fun, adventurous spirit, so when the gruff, unapproachable “Americano” from their favorite coffee shop offers them the chance to stop by his company, GeneticAlly, she jumps at the chance. And drags Jess along with her.

In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Jess spits into the test tube of a GeneticAlly kit that Fizzy bought for her, and that’s where things get… interesting. Turns out, she’s an impressive and never-before-seen 98% match with none other than Americano himself, aka Dr. River Peña, the founder and researcher behind the company.

Like I said, kind of a wild premise. As someone who happens to be engaged to someone she met on a dating app, though, I couldn’t exactly knock it as an implausible way to start off a rom com.

The Soulmate Equation is chock full of lively characters who spark off the page, from Jess herself to her daughter, Juno, and her eccentric but loveable best friend, Fizzy. And Dr. River Peña, of course.

I really enjoyed living in Jess’ perspective, seeing her juggle the risks of a new relationship sourced from unlikely circumstances and raising her daughter on her own. For all that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to relate to her, seeing as I am zero percent a mother, she and Juno both are written so vibrantly and realistically that I couldn’t help but fall in love with their mother-daughter bond.

The side characters are a ton of fun, as well, and the plot kept me guessing enough that I was muttering anxiously to my fiancé while reading — a sure sign that I’m enjoying myself. Since romances can be a bit formulaic, I like not being positive where things are headed, so this was a fun change for me.

I will say there was one side plot that felt a little rushed and not fully developed to me, involving Jess’ relationship with her own mother, but I won’t go into it so we can stay spoiler free. There were so many characters and conflicts to choose from that it became difficult for all of them to be fully fleshed out, and I felt this one aspect of the book fell a little flat for me personally.

That didn’t, however, hamper my overall enjoyment of the book. I’ve seen a few folks mention in reviews that the book could’ve been steamier in the romance department, and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree because this one was hot and heavy on my steam-o-meter.

In all, this is a fun book with an interesting premise and not-altogether predictable plot. I enjoyed the characters and most of the book, even if a few elements felt a little bit rushed or hasty to me.

This is a definite recommendation from me to fans of Christina Lauren, lovers of quality banter and enemies-to-lovers vibes, and folks who aren’t afraid of a little on-the-page steam.

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