Astrid Inside/Out by Louise McBain is the third book I’ve read of hers based in the Washington, D.C. area. In fact, all three novels are connected, not only by setting, but with crossover characters as well. They are all written as standalone stories, though, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the other books.
This is an enjoyable tale about Astrid who breaks her nose chasing a shoplifter and is forced to have plastic surgery that ends up changing her looks. Now instead of being the “smart” sister, Astrid looks very much like her “beautiful” sister Claire. You would think this would be great, but it actually makes Astrid very uncomfortable. Her family and close friends treat her differently. Her girlfriend breaks up with her over the surgery. Astrid even has to worry about whether her new love interest Simone is truly falling for her, or thinks of her as a substitute for Claire.
The idea of how much our looks affects not only how we think about ourselves, but how others think of us is a serious theme in this book. The author handled it fairly well through the actions of Astrid as well as the reactions of the characters around her. In spite of the serious theme, there are parts of the story that made me think of the tale as a bit of a rom-com, especially the story about the Bark Muttsvah. (I’ll let you find out about this yourself.) The romance between Astrid and Simone is sweet and, considering the theme, fairly low angst.
While this is not my favorite book of the three connected novels, it is a charming, low angst romantic tale. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bella Books for an honest review.