As all great romance novels do, “Weather Girl” by Rachel Lynn Solomon revolves around hijinks. The scheme is simple: meteorologist Ari Abrams and sports reporter Russell Barringer team up to “parent trap” their bosses, Torrance and Seth. Torrance and Seth used to be married before a nasty divorce that led to fighting in the workplace, an uncomfortable environment and no room for newbies to move up the office ladder. Ari and Russell hatch a plan to help the two rekindle their love and hopefully earn a promotion for their good work.
Of course, this plan is a secret, and watching the two go to increasingly greath lengths to learn secrets about their bosses is truly hilarious. What starts as simple questions here and there turns into swing dance lessons, a couples massage and a trip to the hospital to welcome a new baby. But, as Torrance and Seth get closer and closer, so do Ari and Russell.
The two of them just click. The two start as scheming friends, full of hope that they can fix the relationship of their bosses. Even before the two start actively flirting, they wonderfully complement each other. He’s enarmomed by all her quirks, the ones she is so often embarrassed about. She is eager to learn everything about his life, and blends in perfectly with his little mismatched family (his kid, his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s new husband).
Ari and Russell have this overwhelming respect for each other at the heart of their relationship. Ari had never been to a hockey game, but she adores going with Russell so she can hear him speak passionately about his favorite sport. Russell never thought much about the weather, but he’s learning to pick up patterns. The two care for each other, both in the loving sense and in the physical sense. Russell takes care of Ari when she hurts her elbow, going above and beyond friend duties in order to make sure that she’s okay. Ari is quick to help any time she can with his daughter, Elodie, and always provides reassurance when he needs it. They’re opposites working to be more alike, pulled together by attraction and a love scheme (that becomes nothing more than a thinly-veiled excuse to hang out with each other more).
Like all Solomon heroes, Russell is positively drool-worthy. A Jewish ex-hockey goalie turned loving teen dad turned sports journalist with an incredible sense of style? Yeah, you can say he’s a catch. He is overwhelmingly kind and caring to Ari in all stages of the novel, through both pining and pain. Solomon doesn’t shy away from writing his vulnerabilities. She lets him be self-conscious about his weight, something usually reserved for female leads. Russell is open about his love of his daughter, but also his fears of being a father. He is open about his dating struggles and his relationship with Elodie’s mom. Russell is everything a good romance novel hero should be. He even encourages Ari to be open about her struggles, and doesn’t at all shy away from any of the details that Ari is so ashamed of.
As I admire every time, Solomon embraces the uglier parts of life, not afraid to talk about struggles with mental illness. Ari has depression, something she starts the novel being rather embarrassed about, but learns to accept over the course of the novel. For Ari, this is her biggest downfall, the reason no one can ever truly love her. It’s a dirty secret that she tries to keep hidden from all those around her. But, Solomon writes acceptance; she writes about learning that depression isn’t a personal failure. Ari goes to therapy and takes medicine to help her. She writes good days and bad days, but overall she writes that mental illness isn’t a terrible taboo, it’s just part of life sometimes.
“Weather Girl” is very much a romance novel, but it is also a novel about familial healing. Most prominent would be the healing of Torrance and Seth, who rekindle their love and welcome the birth of their first grandchild. But Ari also has a lot of healing throughout the novel. Ari and her mother have never been close, not since Ari was a little girl. Ari’s mom also has depression, but she never sought out treatment when her children were young. Now, years later, Ari and her brother are trying to forgive their mother for childhood trauma, as well as fix a relationship that has been broken for years. It’s hard, and it’s messy, but it’s wonderfully written. Solomon reminds readers that no relationship is beyond repair, as long as both parties are willing to try to make it better.
Unsurprisingly, Rachel Lynn Solomon has once again knocked it out of the park! “Weather Girl” is effortlessly charming and a delightful read. As always, she romanticizes Seattle so beautifully that it almost makes me want to pack up everything and switch coasts. Her characters are loveable and so, so real. Though it’s the heart of winter, this book is warm like sunshine (and, for Ari, as exciting as rain).