By Maureen Lee Lenker
February 21, 2019 at 09:00 AM EST
Courtesy Andie J. Christopher

Looking for the next great romantic comedy for your home library?

Author Andie J. Christopher jumps into the rom-com renaissance with Not the Girl You Marry, a gender-swapped take on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days that’s set to hit shelves Nov. 12.

The novel follows Hannah, a highly successful event planner who’s determined to climb the career ladder. To secure a promotion, she has to prove that her usually romance-averse self is capable of planning romantic weddings. This is where Jack comes in: He’s a journalist who wants to break out of writing puff pieces and move into hard-hitting political reporting. Jack strikes a deal with his boss to write a “How to Lose a Girl” piece as his goodbye to all that, but when he meets Hannah he’s not sure he wants to get dumped.

Christoper tells EW she was inspired to write the novel after rewatching the 2003 rom-com and thinking about the film in light of shifting gender dynamics and dating practices. “I decided to gender-reverse it because a lot of the things guys do are things that put women off now, and there’s been a slight shift in millennial dating,” she says. “Women aren’t doing that as much. They’re not thinking that way, like, ‘I have to be the cool girl to keep the guy.’ We’re more likely to say, ‘Hey, guys, please stop sending dick pics because we will never date you if you do this.’ I wanted to play with how things might have changed since the early 2000s.”

Inspiration from classic movie rom-coms is quite popular in the genre, and Christopher says it’s a unique trait of romance writing. “Romance embraces the beats of film storytelling. It is a genre that embraces form in the same way film does,” she muses. “The creativity in writing novels is about taking the form and doing something fun and new with it. Literary fiction is afraid of being too derivative, but [romance authors] know that when you apply your own voice and sensibility and values to [tropes], it completely transforms it.”

Another change from the filmic inspiration? Christopher’s heroine is biracial, a reflection of her own identity and a first for her as an author. “This is the first time I’m writing a character who really represents me,” she says. “The heroine in the book is biracial like me, and I want to talk about how that make dating a little more complicated, no matter who you’re dating.”

Rom-coms are making a comeback on the page and on screen, and they’re taking on more contemporary concerns and attitudes. Christopher says this shifting tone also influenced the novel. “One of the things that inspired me to write the book was I’d been watching TV series like You’re the Worst and Catastrophe and Lovesick, that are really very long rom-coms with a little bit of darkness and cynicism you didn’t see in film rom-coms,” she says. “The rom-coms of the early 2000s are so fun and frothy and light, but you have to inject a tiny bit of the darkness and cynicism of the time to make it feel new and fresh.”

Get an exclusive look at the cover of Not the Girl You Marry — which bears a delightful resemblance to the How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days poster and Kate Hudson’s iconic yellow dress — along with an excerpt below.

Excerpt from Not the Girl You Marry, by Andie J. Christopher

Hannah demolished her taco in a fashion that was kind of scary, but mostly impressive. His instincts told him that she was going to bolt, and he didn’t want that. He wasn’t about to throw her over his should cave-man style—that wasn’t him—but he didn’t meet a girl he sparked with like this every day. Or even every six months. Though he wasn’t looking for anything serious, he couldn’t help hoping for more than a taco.

“Can I have your number?”

She shook her head and leveled him with a look that would make a lesser man run in the other direction. When she wiped an errant drop of crema off the side of her wide, lush mouth, he quaked a little in his boots. Instead of showing weakness, he pushed the remains of his food aside so he could lean over the table. To get closer.

“Why would I give you my number?” There was an unmistakable breathy hitch in her voice.

“So, I can use it.”

She leaned back, and that’s when he knew he was going to get it. She was just as affected by being close to him as he was by her. “How good’s your memory?”

“Damned good.” Had to be when deadlines were tight and news stories came fast.

She rattled off ten numbers, and he fumbled with his phone to enter them. Just as he got the last one in the phone app, she stood up. “Thanks for the drink. And the food.”

The few seconds of hesitation before she grabbed her phone, something expectant about it, gave him the chance to stand up and get next to her. He looked over the screen where it looked like she was booking a car. They were close—close enough to kiss. But he wouldn’t kiss her without permission. So, he just waited.

Her breaths were little gasps as she looked up at him. “I told you that I don’t date.”

“Then, why’d you give me your number?”

She shrugged, but it was more trying to be cool than actually being cool. “You amuse me.”

“Bullshit.” That made her break his gaze. He was losing her, and he had to get her back. Although he’d been benched for a minute, he was still a world champion suitor. That had to be why watching her leave right now would physically hurt him. “You feel this thing between us too. Just admit it, and I won’t pester you for a date.”

“I just have to admit it?”

He nodded and gave her his most winning grin. Even though she looked as though she wanted to slap him, he could feel something about the invisible ten-foot concrete barrier she had around her crumble a little bit. He wanted to pump his fist in the air. But he was about to have something infinitely better to do with his hands. “Admit you like me. And then you’re off the hook for a date.”

“Okay.” And then she had the audacity to look bored.

Because of the blasé look on her face, he didn’t expect it when she pressed her mouth to his. Everything in him froze with the feel of her mouth against his. The press of her hands against his chest. His hands hovered over her shoulders, as though repelled by the electromagnetic field of holy-hell-sweet-baby-Jesus-yes surrounding this kiss.

He didn’t react, couldn’t. He was so surprised that it took him a beat to really make the most of this opportunity before she ripped it away. But when he remembered himself, he pulled her close and took her mouth with his.

And she let him get away with it, softened under his kiss. It was perfect. She was perfect. In a split second, he knew he would crave the feeling of this woman dissolving into a puddle under his lips forevermore.

He almost broke away from her then; it was simply more than either of them had bargained for. She’d seemed to freeze up, too. Knowing he’d have to give up on the feeling of her soft mouth under his pained him.

Just as he was about to pull out of the death spiral, she grabbed ahold of him. And the way she wound her arms around his neck and pulled him close told him that—even if kissing had been impulsive—she definitely wanted more. Flames of need worked their way through his whole body, no chance of banking them as she pressed her body close. Her curves molded to every inch of him.

Damn, she might not date or be down for a one-night stand, but she could kiss. His arms around her waist, she let a breathy moan loose into his mouth. When he put his hand on the back of her neck and took the kiss deeper, she bit his bottom lip. It was as though a crack of thunder went off in his body. The way they kissed, he knew that everything with her would be a battle of wills. Little whimpers into his mouth sounded like victory. He ran his fingers through her hair and gathered the strands at the back of her neck to pull her closer, to angle her head so that he had all the access to her witchy mouth.

The text tone of her phone, which she clutched to the back of his head, made her pull back. Still, her gaze was hazy, bewildered. Looking shocked as though he’d stolen her puppy.

“My car’s here.”

Jack nodded, still satisfied by how stunned she seemed to be by their kiss, even though she’d initiated it. It didn’t affect him any less. This time, when he grabbed her hand and walked with her over to the Kia with its blinkers flashing on the corner, she didn’t even try to pull away. He might have been imagining things, but he thought he felt her squeeze his hand before releasing it to get in the car.

He kept his smile at bay until he’d shut the door and the car had driven away.


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