The Make-Up Test: Review

About the Book:

Title: The Make-Up Test 

Author: Jenny L. Howe 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin 

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Pages: 336

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance 


ONE TO WATCH meets BEACH READ in this smart, swoony, romantic comedy, in which two college exes find themselves battling against each other—and their unresolved feelings—for a spot in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program.

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.

Charmingly bookish and unequivocally fat positive, The Make-Up Test embraces the truth that people can sometimes change and grow, even when you least expect it. 


*I received an e-arc from the publisher and Netgalley for review. All opinions are my own. *

I thought the Make-Up Test was a great debut for Jenny Howe! It’s a contemporary romcom, with two exes who find themselves pitted against each other in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program. I loved the academic setting and the fat rep! There are some difficult topics discussed in the book, and I felt that the author handled them in a positive way.

Allison Avery has a very competitive spirit. She’s always aced every academic challenge and has finally been accepted into the PhD program she’s always dreamed of at Claymore University. She’ll be studying medieval literature under a professor that she’s admired for years. Her classes seem intense, her relationship with her best friend and roommate isn’t going according to plan, and her students don’t seem to want to participate, but she feels determined. She then finds out that her ex-boyfriend Colin who is just as competitive, has been assigned to TA with her under the same professor, and for her it’s game time.

As Allison and Colin compete, they start falling for each other again. Will they be able to overcome their past and have a second chance at romance?

I really enjoyed seeing Allison’s growth and development throughout this story and how she was able to speak up for herself. I loved her passion for learning and how devoted she is to her field of study. Such a refreshing character! Colin grew on me too throughout the book, and I loved how nerdy they were together.

I definitely recommend this one for romance readers and I am excited to read more from Howe in the future!

About the Author:

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.

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