The Romantic Agenda

I’ve been looking forward to Claire Kann‘s adult debut, The Romantic Agenda. This is one of only a handful of romances I’ve come across that stars an asexual main character, and I hope there will be many more to come.

Summary

Joy has secretly been in love with her best friend, Malcolm, since they were in college. They’re both asexual and have a lot in common, if only he could see that. In the years since, she’s seen him date other women, and she’s been waiting for him to finally notice her. But then he tells her he’s found The One—a woman named Summer—and invites Joy to join them on a weekend getaway. She’d be fine with being the third wheel, but Summer invites a guy named Fox. Though they don’t hit it off right away, Joy and Fox agree to pretend to fall for each other in an effort to make Malcolm jealous. Maybe then he’ll finally realize he should be with Joy? But fake dating might lead to another revelation: Maybe Malcolm isn’t the right one for Joy. Maybe it’s actually Fox.

Review

Finally, an adult romance with an asexual lead! I’ve been loving the increase in diversity within romance lately, and while there have been some books with ace-spectrum leads, The Romantic Agenda is the first I’ve seen in which asexuality is a major theme that even makes it into the official summary. (Please let me know of others! I have The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun on my shelf and would love more books like these.)

First of all, I loved Joy’s character. She is so full of life, kind, and confident. She’s fashionable and loves to look her best, even if some people don’t understand how that fits with her being asexual. But Joy has a big secret: She loves her best friend Malcolm, yet he only sees her as a friend. They’re as close as friends can be, and that has ruined some of Malcolm’s previous romantic relationships, but they’ve never gone beyond the platonic realm (except for that one time…).

The other three characters are great, too, even if some of them can be frustrating. Malcolm is generous and nice, but an extreme planner, and he gets grumpy if things don’t go according to his schedule. His new girlfriend Summer is overly friendly… maybe inauthentically so? And Summer’s ex, Fox, is reserved at first, but proves to be down-to-earth and dependable.

In general, I don’t love the miscommunication trope. If two characters can just have a conversation and be done with it, I don’t want to read a drawn-out saga of their misunderstandings. But in The Romantic Agenda, it actually kind of works. Joy has tried to tell Malcolm her true feelings, but he doesn’t quite get it. They’re on the same page about everything, but for some reason, Malcolm has a disconnect and Joy isn’t sure how to get through to him. It’s not for lack of trying, at least.

During a long weekend together, Joy and Fox agree to fake date to see if that gets Malcom’s attention. Fake dating is another trope that doesn’t always work, but again, in this novel, it does. Joy and Fox aren’t over-the-top about it, and I like that they are genuinely getting to know each other. Despite Joy’s initial annoyance at Fox’s presence, they click really well and make for a cute (fake) couple.

Asexuality is a major part of both Joy and Malcolm’s identity. (It’s how they met back in college.) I enjoyed the conversations they had with Summer and Fox, both of whom are allosexual. It’s a valuable chance to better understand different sexualities, and in the case of Joy and Fox, I appreciate his sensitivity to and acceptance of her asexuality. This is a romance with no sex scenes, but there is nicely established intimacy and discussion of sex in a positive way.

Things get a little dramatic towards the end, but I love how everything comes together. As good of a couple as Joy and Malcolm could make, I like how Joy and Fox ultimately fit together.

Final Thoughts

The Romantic Agenda is a sweet and fun love story that highlights romantic love and asexuality. It’s a quick read that is full of heart and emotion, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. This is one of the first asexual romances I’ve read, but it won’t be the last! I also look forward to reading more from Claire Kann, especially if she continues to write adult novels.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy The Romantic Agenda here – it’s available as paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

The Romantic Agenda by Author
AudienceAdult
GenreContemporary Romance
SettingCalifornia
Number of Pages336
Format I ReadPaperback
Original Publication DateApril 12, 2022

Official Summary

Joy is in love with Malcolm.
But Malcolm really likes Summer.
Summer is in love with love.
And Fox is Summer’s ex-boyfriend.
 
Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.
 
Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?

About the Author

Claire Kann 2019

Claire Kann is the author of several novels and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life she works for a non-profit you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. She loves cats and is obsessed with horror media (which makes the whole being known for writing contemporary love stories a little weird, tbh). Find more stories and random anecdotes on her website.

More Books by Claire Kann

Claire Kann - Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann - If It Makes You Happy
Claire Kann - The Marvelous

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