The Make-Up Test by Jenny Lowe

Published: September 13, 2022
St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 332
Genre: Romance
KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Jenny L. Howe first started scribbling stories into black-and-white composition notebooks with neon pink pens when she was in junior high and never really stopped. In college, she decided to turn her love of books into a career by pursuing a Ph.D. in literature, where she spent the next few years studying bizarre and entertaining medieval romances. Now, as a professor, she teaches courses in college writing, literature, and children’s media. When she’s not writing and teaching, Jenny spends her time buried under puzzle pieces, cross-stitching her favorite characters, and taking too many pictures of her rescue dogs, Tucker and Dale. The Make-Up Test is her debut novel.

Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight’s Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they’re both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.

What starts as a personal battle of wits (and lit) turns into all-out war when their professor announces a career-changing research trip opportunity—with one spot to fill. Competing with Colin is as natural as breathing, and after he shattered her heart two years ago, Allison refuses to let him come out on top. But when a family emergency and a late night road trip—plus a very sexy game of Scrabble—throw them together for a weekend, she starts to wonder if they could be stronger on the same team. And if they fall for each other all over again, Allison will have to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what could be a twice-in-a-lifetime love.

“Sometimes, the right choice hurt far worse than the wrong one.”

Allison is starting her grad school courses, filled with excitement and nerves, ready to prove herself. When she finds out her ex-boyfriend is also in her program, under that same topic, she’s already planning to outshine him.

For a debut, this was well done. There was a lot of conflict and a lot of heavy topics, which was an ambitious play to make.

I found the characters okay. I had a difficult time with the main character, Allison. I wanted to like her- I was a British Literature major and can tend to be very type A, but I found Allison shallow. She didn’t let people talk, and she wasn’t a good listener. She wasn’t a good friend, and she was very immature.

I know she was only 23 and had a lot of past issues to work through, but she wasn’t very likable. I found Colin a well-done lead character; he had great growth and seemed to have learned from past struggles. I enjoyed the side characters; Wendy was excellent.

I did find the plot pretty realistic, grad school is no joke, and life feels extremely overwhelming while trying to stay afloat. And I found Allison’s struggles with teaching accurate and fairly represented. It’s scary facing a room of students feeling unprepared and inadequate. That was honest and raw.

Overall, this one was just okay for me. The plot was fine; the characters were alright. I did love the grad school aspect and the Literature aspect.

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