Review: The Seat Filler (ARC)

Expected publication: April 27th 2021, 316 pages

Author: Sariah Wilson

The meet-cute award goes to dog groomer Juliet Nolan. It’s one of Hollywood’s biggest nights when she volunteers as a seat filler and winds up next to movie heartthrob Noah freaking Douglas. Tongue tied and toes curling in her pink Converse, she pretends that she doesn’t have a clue who he is. It’s the only way to keep from swooning.

She’s pretty and unpretentious, loves his dog, and is not a worshipping fan. No way Noah’s giving up on her, even if his affectionate pursuit comes with a bump: Juliet has a pathological fear of kissing and the disappointments that follow. What odds does romance have without that momentous, stupendous, once-in-a-lifetime first smooch? Patient, empathetic, and carrying personal burdens of his own, Noah suggests a remedy: they rehearse.

The lessons begin. The guards come down. But there’s another hitch they weren’t betting on. As for that cue-the-orchestra-and-roll-credits happy ending? It might take more than practice to make it perfect.

A romantic tale about a celebrity and a non-famous person! These types of stories are always intriguing as I’m curious how they’ll display the events that build the relationship, such as, how the non-famous one will adjust to life in the spotlight. I last read this type of tale in The Royal We, which involved a commoner and a royal. My last movie star read was Waiting for Tom Hanks, which had the non-famous person meet the famous one while a movie was being filmed in her town. This time we explore what happens if you meet someone famous at an actual award show when you’re acting as a seat filler. Honestly, I would not mind being a seat filler at any award show, even if I didn’t get to sit next to someone super famous, I always thought it would be a fun experience.

I’ve heard about Sariah Wilson as tons of people I know were talking about Roommaid when it was released and now I can see why as I greatly enjoy her writing style and character portrayals. Her other novels are now on my TBR list and I hope they are just as good, or better, than this one as she gave likeable characters with a plot that was both relatable yet escapist. The book is filled with the heavier topic of anxiety mixed with the sweet swept off your feet romance. It was a very Hallmark almost perfect world type novel that was engaging and entertaining. If you’re not a romance reader, or don’t really care for fairy tale type stories, then this one would not be for you.  For me, I devoured it in only a few hours as it provided a nice fantasy type world where you can escape from any negatives of the world.

Juliet has just started her own mobile dog grooming business as she decided to do what she loves while working towards one day owning a large estate to have her own dog rescue. Right away I related as I would absolutely love to do both if I ever got the money to do so. She avoids dating like the plague, but it’s not for your typical reasons. Instead, she has a hidden secret, she has Philemaphobia, also known as the fear of kissing.  Eventually, while reading, the backstory for this is revealed, but until then, it is eluded to throughout the novel. I honestly had to look this fear up as I knew it was real, but I just didn’t realize how common it is.  The explanations for not only how Juliet developed this fear, but also how she’s moving forward were all well-done as she didn’t overcome it overnight. Instead, she worked at it at her own pace and experienced setbacks, which were all relatable to anyone who has ever tried to overcome a fear.

Juliet receives a call for a favor from her best friend as her boyfriend’s mom needs extra seat fillers for an award show. Juliet only agrees to help out her friend. During the award show, she is placed next to Noah, a famous actor, and her celebrity crush. In order to not make conversation awkward, Juliet pretends not to know who he is or that he stared in her favorite series as she believes she will never see him again. However, they end up connecting again and eventually form a friendship. Noah expresses immediate romantic interest in Juliet, but due to her fear, she refuses him, but agrees to be friends. They spend more and more time together as friends, but Juliet wonders how long she can keep up the initial lie that she had no idea who Noah was when they met.

The bond they form is genuine and heart-warming as they each support the other. He respects her boundaries and expresses his interest in her while understanding that she does not wish to be together romantically. He is patient with her as he eventually learns of her fear and I love how he helps her work through it as best he can. Sure, he had his more selfish interests as he is romantically interested in her, but he also just wants to genuinely help her work through her fear so she can eventually date and pursue her wish to have romantic relationships, even if they don’t involve him.  My only hang up with his character is that he just seemed too perfect at times. It was as if everything he did was the best and he could do no wrong. He was the perfect specimen and Juliet was the one with the flaws. Noah does have some flaws, but they are very minor in comparison. It didn’t take away anything from the story, though, as I still loved him as a character. Instead, it was a mere observation.  He is still a very compelling character that you root for and you want to have a happy ending as he is the type that deserves it.

Overall, this romantic tale is very sweet and heart-warming. It was nice to have the Cinderella-type story with the average girl meeting her “Prince Charming.” There are conflicts that they have to work through if they want to be together and each obstacle was done well as it was relatable and enjoyable to read about. You understand Juliet’s character in why she would initially lie and tell Noah that she did not know him as she did not want to come across as a fangirl and inflate his ego.  At first, the fear of kissing seems silly, but I enjoyed how it was portrayed and how it illustrated that it is a genuine fear that many people have. This novel was a very entertaining and enthralling romantic story that is well worth a read if you love fairy tales!

13 thoughts on “Review: The Seat Filler (ARC)

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