Neil Kearney has never been in love. This becomes a major issue when Josh, his friend-with-benefits, confesses that he’s in love with Neil. Neil promptly rejects Josh but doesn’t understand why Josh is so upset. The two had agreed that their relationship wouldn’t go beyond simple hooking up, and now Neil is in exactly the messy situation he’d hoped to avoid: During their bougie boarding school's spring break, they're supposed to attend Neil's brother's fancy wedding together, but that's clearly a bad idea now that Josh has caught feelings. The solution? Neil’s roommate, Wyatt. Neil and Wyatt are far from friendly, but surely they can pull off a week of fake dating and convince Josh that Neil has moved on. Right?
Over a marathon week of wedding obligations with Neil’s wealthy family, Neil and Wyatt finally forge the close, intimate friendship they never had as roommates. Wyatt sees that Neil’s brash, confident exterior conceals turmoil caused by his unsupportive, emotionally distant family— especially Neil’s grandparents, who routinely make callously transphobic comments toward him. In turn, Neil opens his eyes to Wyatt’s reality as a scholarship student whose hardworking parents can’t provide a fraction of what Neil takes for granted.
The sense of ease that develops between Neil and Wyatt is unlike anything Neil ever thought possible. As their boyfriend act begins to feel real, Neil is thrown off balance. Is this what it feels like to fall in love? If so, how do you hold on to it? And scariest of all, how could Neil possibly deserve Wyatt’s love?
In The Feeling of Falling in Love, Mason Deaver (I Wish You All the Best) delivers a satisfying romance right out of the rom-com playbook. Though there are plenty of these-two-are-obviously-in-love moments and heaps of witty banter, other details are what make this book truly exceptional: While some characters don’t treat Neil with respect, the novel always does. And when Wyatt’s own questions about gender identity arise, Neil adjusts supportively. Deaver gives characters chances to reflect on and address harm they’ve caused, but provides no abrupt or trite conclusions. The Feeling of Falling in Love is a delightfully nuanced queer rom-com that fans of contemporary YA romances will love.