Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“When your boyfriend could become your stepbrother, it’s… relatively complicated.”
Stacey Potter is back, this time with a sweet romance filled with adventure! I read Stacey’s debut novel, The Project, back in 2020, published by the wonderful team at Hadleigh House Publishing, and I absolutely loved it. Although this book is quite different from her previous, it’s still got the charm and is just as beautiful to read for different reasons! I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Stacey’s second book, Relatively Complicated!
About the book:
Capri Sweeten was once fun. She was fearless, leading her childhood friend, Matt, on spontaneous adventures like shooting bottle rockets, sailing on the lake, and holding secret meetings in their clubhouse. But that all changed when a business scandal forced their families apart, and Matt and Capri moved away from each other. Now, Capri’s focus is on college classes and work, and she has no time to waste on anything else. Not even on her sort-of-boyfriend, Lance.
When Matt unexpectedly comes back into her life, Capri suddenly finds a lot more room in her schedule. But even she’s surprised when she agrees to help Whitney, her roommate, test a unique dating app she’s coding. (The fact that Matt also agrees has nothing to do with it!) As the two embark on the app’s suggested dates together, Capri slowly recaptures her carefree spirit…and her feelings for Matt.
Just as things seem poised to take off, Matt and Capri are horrified to learn their parents have been secretly dating and they are soon to be stepsiblings. Matt begins to question if they should be together under the circumstances but Capri can’t let him go after she just found him. Her new goal? Break off the wedding so they can have a chance at love that’s (relatively) uncomplicated.
This book is so easy to fall into! The opening chapter was everything I wanted it to be, setting the scene to perfection and introducing us to the important characters who I knew I’d love soon enough! You can’t help but love Stacey Potter’s characters, and in Relatively Complicated, I adored the main character, Capri, right from the start. You instantly get a clear picture of her and her personality, and I even (strangely) formed a visual of her in my mind with very little description! Capri, and two other characters, Lance (the guy she’s sort of dating) and Matt (her childhood best friend she’d lost contact with) are brought into the mix flawlessly, almost like we’d already known them for a while. Everything slotted together straight away, like this book was simply meant to have been written. And who better than Stacey to bring it to life! I felt so excited to dive into the book further and to join these brilliant characters on their journey!
I had so many questions about Capri and Matt’s past, but the author doesn’t give too much away right now (of course!) We know something happened with their families, we know they didn’t keep in touch for years… but why? The theories were already rushing around my brain; trying to piece things together is always addictive to me! I wasn’t at all convinced that Capri and Lance’s relationship was meant to last either. She doesn’t seem at all enthusiastic about spending time with him and after all, school and work was too important to her right now. What was really different for me with this book was reading a sporty romance – Capri was working as a pre-physical therapy student and Matt a player with a pretty serious injury. Knowing Capri would be the one to nurse him back to health was a pretty cute premise and this specific genre is something I’ve never read before! Could they put their rough past behind them? Or had simply too much time passed by for them to have anything in common anymore?
“I was stunned that Matt was in my presence. I couldn’t think of what I was supposed to be doing with the decades worth of questions seizing my thoughts. Where have you been?“
Reading about Capri and Matt’s memories from years ago was so wholesome and heartwarming. They were the best of friends ten years ago and the more we learn about their friendship back then, the more saddening it was that they were forced apart through no fault of their own. I loved diving deep into what went on with their families, how their lives were torn apart for so many reasons. The depth and the description of it all was super impressive and it created a solid storyline in my eyes. After a few conversations, it really seemed as if Capri and Matt’s friendship hadn’t had a ten year hiatus; their conversations were so full of life and you can just see how happy they are in each other’s presence. Could this really blossom into more than friendship after all this time? Capri has a bit of a ‘whoopsie’ moment while she’s with Lance, showing that Matt seems to be on her mind more than Lance is. Despite her not wanting their relationship to end on bad terms, was what happened a relief deep down?
The author writes the sad moments and the fun ones with such passion and I loved the balance at times! Whitney, Capri’s best friend and roommate, is the person everyone needs in their corner when they’re feeling down. She drags Capri to a party to allow her to let her hair down, and I really hoped this event would force her to remember the fun side she once had rather than the ‘all work no play’ rut she was stuck in right now. It was a brilliant part of the book and had to be one of my favourites, especially when she bumps into Matt again. I loved how they still found the time for fun and adventures like they used to have, like no time at all had passed! I was loving these characters more and more, and when Whitney downloads her new Create-a-Date app onto Matt’s phone, I knew the book would get very interesting indeed! The opening to this book had it all; lovable characters, a really strong plot, an interesting backstory and plenty of fun. I couldn’t wait to see what came next for these characters!
It’s so clear just how much research went into this book; the detail surrounding Capri’s job in physical therapy was excellent and we’re constantly kept in the loop with Matt’s recovery. I felt like I actually learned quite a lot about her job (and possibly what to do if anyone I know tears their ACL!) I always appreciate the extra work that goes into writing a book, and it really helps the book to come alive, as this one has! As time went on, I loved reading about all of the dates (but definitely not date dates…) Capri and Matt enjoyed together, like those spontaneous trips to the arcade, or jumping on a ferris wheel when Matt was desperately in need of swimming trunks. It seemed no matter how big or small the event or outing, they absolutely reveled in each other’s company. They really seem to be the perfect match! But will Matt’s girlfriend getting a sense that the two of them are getting closer change things? Would he eventually have to make a difficult choice?
Matt’s girlfriend, Melody, was really starting to tick me off. Don’t get me wrong, the character was perfect; the author has truly captured the jealous, demanding girlfriend type flawlessly! But she always seemed to crop up at the worst moments and ruin any cutesy moments Capri and Matt had! I did really admire Matt for knowing his boundaries though, for not overstepping the line while he had a girlfriend. But my god, he needed to call things off with her soon! Capri and Matt are just meant to be. Enough said! I think I wanted the book to be drawn out a little more as Matt and Melody suddenly break up, Capri and Matt enter their own romantic relationship and a huge development in their family structure is revealed in quick succession (but maybe this was just my selfish self just wanting to read the book for longer!) But let’s please discuss how you would feel if you have strong romantic feelings for your childhood best friend and then realise your parents are IN A RELATIONSHIP? Wouldn’t you just die?! Things were absolutely about to get interesting and very complicated for everyone. Now what?!
“I thought the crack that was in my heart from when we were ten had healed a little whenever I spent time with Matt. But it was just bandaged, and it ripped open again tonight.”
It’s not only romantic relationships we get to explore in this book – there are also family feuds and positive family relationships. Capri’s mum dating Matt’s dad understandably frustrates Capri, after everything he put their family through. I loved Capri’s relationship with her dad though, and I found myself really wanting him to be happy! The conversations she has with her dad were so heartwarming and just beautiful to witness, and of course, the author writes them with such care and attention to detail. The book continues to be so fun – Capri and Matt try their best to forget about whatever it is their parents are doing (ew) and concentrate on spending time with one another, trying out Whitney’s Create-a-Date app and basically just making each other happy. It’s one of the sweetest rom-coms I’ve read by a mile and it was always a delight to pick this book up. But, with so much happiness and love, I became nervous. I had a feeling something was about to go wrong…and I was right!
Fear and uncertainty begins to seep into Capri’s thoughts. What would happen if her mum and Matt’s dad decided to take their relationship to the next level? Where would that leave herself and Matt? Could they continue dating and have a weird family dynamic forever or would they be forced to stay friends, no matter how much Capri was falling for Matt? Conversations between different characters became deeper and more serious, but I still enjoyed this shift as much as all the happy and carefree moments. They had to face the facts and deal with whatever came their way, and I appreciated the author exploring this (because it could happen to anyone!) When the worst outcome imaginable is revealed, Capri’s world comes crashing down. A wedding?! I couldn’t even predict the outcome here but I hoped Capri and Matt would find a way to make things work, or to even convince their parents that this marriage should not be happening. It was turning out to be a pretty tense finale!
Capri’s feelings at this point in the book were explored so well, and at times, I was sure I was sharing these feelings with her! Throughout the book, we’d never really seen an angry, depressed or grief-stricken Capri, just the focused, friendly and lovely person she was. But she experiences all these feelings and more after the latest news, and it broke my heart that she was feeling this way! The way the author writes this really got to me sometimes as I put myself in her shoes. It must be such a difficult time for her; wanting happiness for herself, but also for her mother, someone else who just wants to be loved after everything she’d gone through in her life. But I have to agree with Capri – her choice of man was probably not a great one! There is so much packed into this book, so many things to explore and so many of my questions still to be answered, but I was really enjoying where things were heading! Could everyone reach some sort of deal before the end of the book? A compromise?
A drunken Matt embarrasses himself, Capri’s dad finds more than he bargains for when demolishing part of a house, and Capri herself is left completely heartbroken after seeing something far from what she wanted to see. Well, it wouldn’t be a romance without a bit of disaster, would it?! The author really has her readers in the palm of her hand; Stacey has absolutely nailed the emotion, the tense scenes and all the dialogue to go with it. And the way Capri and Matt talk things through and sort out their issues was a breath of fresh air. Why can’t all couples do that?! No matter all the things she’s going through, Capri still has to practice for the football throwing competition to win a potential scholarship (strange, I know!) I loved her determination and her drive, and secretly wished I could steal some of it for myself! After all she’s been through in her life, this scholarship would be the icing on the cake after reconnecting with Matt. I had everything crossed that she would make it one way or the other!
“I sipped my coffee and smiled to no one but myself. Life felt like it was finally on its axis again.”
The book takes a very exciting turn as the ending drew near – a trip to Hawaii to save some relationships! I loved Capri’s father even more as he plans to help Capri and Matt do what they believe needs to be done, and I loved this new adventure they were having together, no matter how terrifying it might seem. Who’d have thought that 10+ years ago, Capri and Matt would be fighting so hard for their relationship and their happiness with eachother?! The more I read, the more I really appreciated the author doesn’t always make things ‘go as planned’ – some things don’t work out the way we expect at first, and that is absolutely okay. In fact, I wish all books did this! Because real life is definitely nothing like the majority of books you read. I loved the trip Capri and her dad take to Hawaii, the stressful and uncertain journey just adding to the suspense. Would they make it in time before the wedding? I really wanted a trip to Hawaii after this, but maybe not when all the hotels were full…
There was so much to love about the book’s ending with plenty of welcome surprises. You can really feel the love radiating from each page and I even enjoyed the pretty cheesy (but cute) finale! The author ensures everything is alligned, every character has an ending they deserve as well as a future for us readers to think about further. Capri and Matt’s future was shaping up to be pretty spectacular, but to find out why, you’ll have to read the book for yourself I’m afraid. But trust me, it’s worth it! If you’re a big fan of sweet romances or rom-coms, love characters with personality and wit, or even love a sport focused, fun read, this is bound to be your new favourite. I feel so proud of you, Stacey! I loved reading The Project, I loved reading Relatively Complicated and I so can’t wait to see what you write next. Oh, and I reckon I’ll be singing Kelly Clarkson’s MLWSWY for the foreseeable future 😂
Relatively Complicated is such an uplifting read that is easy to get lost in! It’s a sweet story of second chance love, about two childhood best friends reconnecting. Along the way, we get plenty of surprises, uncertainty and adventure, but most importantly, it’s a ton of fun. The main characters are excellent and filled with personality and the surprisingly deep storyline really kept me excited to pick this book up each day. A really great read for fans of friends-to-lovers romance and I’d recommend to anyone looking for a new author in this genre! Stacey really is one of the best!
Huge thanks to the author, Stacey Potter, for my ARC of the book! You can grab your own copy of Relatively Complicated right now on Amazon. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates!
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