Harlow is determined to have his movie moment, the ultimate “meet cute” that will kick start his perfect romance. Harlow does his best to engineer opportunities, whether that means “accidentally” mixing up his drink with a cute guy’s at the coffee shop or bumping into a handsome stranger on the bus. But so far, Harlow is having no luck. Fortunately, his best friend Teddy is there to keep him company until Harlow finds the man of his dreams.
Teddy has been in love with Harlow for years. He knows that many see Harlow as a handful, but Teddy loves everything about Harlow. So if that means he needs to be there through Harlow’s crazy attempts to land a man, well so be it. When Harlow suggests that the two of them explore a friends-with-benefits relationship, given that they are both going through a dry spell, Teddy is both wary and thrilled. He knows he is not the type of guy Harlow wants, but a chance to be with Harlow is worth the future pain that will inevitably come when Harlow meets his true match.
As the men add a sexual component to their already close relationship, it soon becomes clear that there is more to their feelings than just friendship. Harlow realizes that he is falling for Teddy, that Teddy could be everything he has been looking for. But Teddy is the most important person in Harlow’s life, and he worries that if things go wrong, he will lose that friendship. Teddy is willing to be patient, to give Harlow time to figure himself out. But when Teddy’s faces a big life change, Harlow needs to determine once and for all if the man of his dreams has always been right there in front of him.
Operation Meet Cute kicks off K.M. Neuhold’s Operation HEA series and the story is pretty sweet and adorable. Harlow is an assistant movie director who dreams of living out his own romantic comedy, complete with a meet cute. So he does his best to make it happen, even if he has to create some contrived situations (such as standing in the rain with a flat tire in hopes a sexy stranger will offer assistance). Yes, it is pretty crazy behavior, but Harlow is fun and impulsive and fairly harmless. He is one of those slightly madcap characters that you will likely either find endearing or he will make you kind of nuts. But I fell on the side of liking him and finding him fun and lively (even if I did want to yell at him to knock on a door now and then rather than barging in). And fortunately for Harlow, Teddy loves pretty much everything about him. Teddy is solid and sweet, ruggedly sexy, and endlessly patient. He finds Harlow charming and endearing, and sees a softer side to him that most others don’t notice. The men have some nice banter and a bit of snark, and a really nice connection.
Once the pair start hooking up, it doesn’t take long for Harlow to realize he has feelings for Teddy, but he doesn’t want to admit it. After his father abandoned his family, Teddy is wary of losing someone else so important to him, so he is afraid of what might happen if he takes things further with Teddy. At times, it’s a little hard to watch Harlow head off for a date or another meet cute attempt, obviously leaving a heartsore Teddy behind. But Teddy wants Harlow’s happiness, even at the expense of his own, and he puts up with a lot to support him. He is more than willing to wait for Teddy to figure things out, but when a major life change hits, Harlow needs to finally figure out that Teddy is actually the man he wants. I think Neuhold does a nice job of giving Harlow that undercurrent of self awareness that helps makes his character work. Teddy may want a meet cute, swept away romance, but deep down he knows that is not what real life is really like. What he truly wants is love and support and companionship, and when he gets over his fears, he is able to reach for that with Teddy.
Operation Meet Cute is a fun start to a new series. Despite the set up, it is pretty low angst, and the story is sweet, funny, and sexy. I enjoyed this one and am looking forward to more.