A Dramatic Second Chance Romance —Angsty and Gritty
The Road Trip Book Cover The Road Trip
Beth O'Leary
Contemporary Romance
June 1, 2021
ebook, audiobook, paperback

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland—he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart—and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

“I know as soon as our eyes meet that I’m not going to leave him here. He knows it too. I’m sorry, he mouths at me. If I had a pound for every time Dylan Abbott’s told me he’s sorry, I’d be rich enough to buy that Mercedes.”

It’s hard to categorize The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary because while it is a classic second chance romance, it’s also one of the few books that I’ve read that is hard to nail down all the different aspects that are deftly woven together to create a truly vibrant, and gorgeously written story. The Road Trip is more than just a forced proximity second chance romance, it’s full of heart and friendship too.

The Road Trip tells the story of how Addie and Dylan fell in love under the hot, French Provincial sun, and instead of following their hearts, they let their heads get twisted around by the words of their friends. Not necessarily “forced” to cram into Addie’s sister Deb’s tiny Volkswagon Beetle, Addie and Dylan can’t help but to reflect on their windswept romance, as well as their abrupt breakup and the deafening radio silence ever since. The drive ends up becoming a boiler pot with tensions running as high as the British summer temperatures. With comedic relief coming in the form of Deb’s random run-ins with a besotted lorry driver, as well as odd man out Rodney, and even Marcus’ surliness adds extra tension but also comedy in the ridiculous things that come out of his mouth.

“If one could harness secrets for energy, we wouldn’t need petrol—we’d have enough grudges in this car to take us all the way to Scotland.”

Addie is so likable. I admire her tenacity, because not everyone would willingly go on a road trip with their ex. Dylan is more complicated and that comes to light immediately. Their chemistry plays out well on the page, but it’s the tension that really makes you glued to the page. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Mark from Love Actually (the man with the carol singers and iconic posterboard notes), then you’ll really enjoy the entire character arc of Marcus— Dylan’s best friend and all-around rabble-rouser, or if you’re like me you will rage internally because Marcus is actually really insufferable, but Beth O’Leary is crafty at giving him an incredible journey that truly settled well in the end.

Told through flashbacks to the beginnings of their relationship, Addie and Dylan’s romance unfolds between the past and present. Their characters become more defined with each snapshot of the past, and the implications of family expectations become clear, but they also muddle and mutate when combined with outside pressure. The Road Trip is full of dealing with the emotional fall out from big decisions, and there are themes that are quite dark as well. Drug usage, mental illness, as well as sexual assault are present in the story. Each of the characters in the car have their own storylines (some more prominent than others) but I liked that each of those storylines got followed through to their final destination at Cherry’s wedding in Scotland. I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers, but I think every romance reader will agree that the ending is well worth the journey.

“Do you know what it takes to be a good man when someone’s always told you you’re not good enough?”

If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed The Road Trip. I think Beth O’Leary is a fantastic storyteller. Consider this your nudge to read The Road Trip if you haven’t already. Available everywhere in ebook, audiobook, as well as paperback, so you should add it to your TBR immediately.