Book Reviews, Romance  |  02.27.2021

How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams (Book Review)


One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.


Adult Contemporary Romance

Trigger Warnings:

Assault, Emotional and Physical Abuse, Gaslighting.

Spoiler-Free Review:

Do not let this cute cover make you think this is just a fluffy romance. While there are certainly some very endearing and sweet moments, How to Fail at Flirting brings to life difficult topics around abusive relationships. Denise Williams does a superb job with this debut novel managing to bring a sweep-you-off-your-feet-romance while having very serious discussions in the background.

Naya Turner might lose her job. She’s been working eight-plus years towards tenure and now her whole department is at serious risk of being shut down. Meanwhile, her dating life has been nonexistent, so her friends convince her to make a list of all the things she should accomplish dating-wise. Meeting a stranger in a bar and having a drink is definitely one of them, but she couldn’t imagine that this would lead her to meet the swoony Jake.

Jake is visiting town for a friend’s wedding and is completely enthralled by the gorgeous brunette he meets at the bar. Their connection is instant and sparks fly between the two. But, as they start getting comfortable with this relationship and the promise of more they learn that there are so many other strings attached.

I loved the chemistry between Jake and Naya, and how the pacing of their relationship feels so real. Even though they have instant chemistry, Denise Williams navigates them from giddy strangers to interested acquaintances, to I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-you territory, to true love. It’s addicting.

For the more serious tones of this book, it can certainly be difficult to read about Naya’s ex. But, I feel like this whole plot was dealt with a lot of care and sensibility, and I was overall pleased with the resolution.

I was definitely hooked and can’t wait to read a lot more from Denise Williams in the future.


☆☆☆☆☆ (5 Stars)

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1 Comment “How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams (Book Review)”
  1. Lindsey      Feb 27 2021 // 12H59

    Ooh this sounds intriguing. Not an author I’ve heard of before so thanks for the recommendation! Great review.