The Map to You by Rachel Stockbridge
Published: January 25th by Rachel Stockbridge
Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Genre: New Adult // Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Quick Thoughts: This was such a cute and meaningful read that I’m so glad I got the chance to read.
About The Book: Sasha Deforest always seems to fall hardest for girls she can’t have. And she’s never fallen harder than she has for her tough, stubborn best friend Kinsey. Sasha can’t help all the outrageously flirty things that come out of her mouth when they’re together, even if Kinsey always plays it off as a running joke. Sasha doesn’t really mind, though. She likes that they’re just friends. It’s easy. Uncomplicated. And it means she has an excuse not to open up about her troubled family life back home.
Kinsey Han has been nursing one hell of a crush on sweet, sarcastic Sasha for the better part of the last year. Not that she’d ever let Sasha know it. Kinsey tends to express herself by frowning and ordering her loved ones around. Even if she thought Sasha meant all the flirty nonsense she’s always coming up with, Kinsey could never be the kind of cheerful, outgoing woman Sasha deserves to be with. It’s better for everyone if Kinsey keeps her true feelings to herself.
But when Sasha drops everything to drive Kinsey 600 miles to deal with a family emergency, things get complicated. The more time they spend together, the harder it is for Kinsey to keep her feelings for Sasha buried—and the harder it is for Sasha to remember why it’s so important to keep Kinsey at arm’s length. If they continue to conceal the depths of their feelings for each other, they’d be missing out on falling in love with the one person who could truly get them. But taking that chance also means opening themselves up to heartbreak. And neither is sure they’re willing to risk losing the other forever.
Contemporary romances are my cup of tea, and when The Map To You came into my life (thanks to a lovely email from Novel Cause and Rachel!) I was so excited to get to know the characters because, one, that cover, and two, it seemed like a bright and enjoyable read for the start of the year!
We meet main characters Sasha and Kinsey from the get-go, setting scene for the forced-proximity trope (that I love) as they enter each other’s lives. I was a bit sceptical going in as I saw (after I’d started reading) that this was the second novel in the series, with the previous main characters of the first book now taking side-character stage in this one, but I quickly learned that you didn’t need to read the first, which thankfully made a lot of sense! After we’re introduced, we follow a slight time jump through them becoming roommates at Uni, and the growth of their budding friendship (banter included) turning flirtatious and further adding tension to their will-they-or-won’t-they connection.
Sasha is the kind of character that I’d describe as a hopeless romantic, totally smitten on Kinsey. She’s accidentally flirty and can’t help falling for Kinsey every time they talk. But she’s reserved about her childhood, something she’s unsure how to tell people about. Meanwhile Kinsey has been crushing on Sasha for ages, although she’s coolly tried to keep the feelings buried deep, adamant that Sasha needs someone equally as sunshine-like and not all rain-cloud like her. They go through so much together over the span of the book—road trips, confessions and tasks—and by the end, I was absolutely certain that they were meant to be.
Overall, I thoroughly adored The Map To You. It had so many enjoyable tropes, sunshine/grumpy, road trip, close proximity, friends-to-lovers (my favourite) and I found myself completely getting attached to the characters, rooting for them throughout. It also included important and delicate topics like drug abuse/childhood trauma that I found were written with proper research and backstory. This was such a cute and meaningful read that I’m so glad I got the chance to read! A beautiful four-star wonder.
Rachel Stockbridge wrote her first novel at 12 years old - a goofy mess from start to finish that took her a year to write, and proved beyond a doubt that she could do it. Since then, she’s never stopped writing and has dedicated her career to pouring her heart into every book she writes.