The Right Swipe is one of my favourite reads of 2020, hands down.
It’s probably the best romance book I read, too. That needs to be crosschecked because my memory is trash and I forgot what other books I read this year. When I think of my favourite romance book of 2020, I think of The Right Swipe.
It’s such a shame that I took this long to read it. And I’m going to convince you to read it, if you haven’t yet.
Title: The Right Swipe
Author: Alisha Rai
Series info: #1 of Modern Love but can be read as a standalone
Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:
– Nude pics are by invitation only
– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice
– Protect your heart
Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.
Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…
Trigger warnings: sexual harassment, cyber bullying and harassment, domestic verbal abuse, grief.
It’s almost as if this book was written for me. Not because it has tropes I love or has something I look for in every book. It is because the book sets new standards. Now that I have read The Right Swipe, anything less than the standards this book holds is not good enough.
I loved Rhiannon. Right off the bat, we see exactly what kind of person she is. She is headstrong, competitive, ambitious, and clever. Give her more time and she will conquer the world. Even if she is not a relatable character for everyone, you WILL connect to her.
While she is brilliant, Rhiannon is also flawed because of her past and her single-mindedness towards her goal. She works too much, doesn’t take out time for family enough, and is always thinking about how to climb higher. Failure is not an option. Her mantra is “success is the best revenge”, something that her mom told her several years back and one that keeps her going no matter what.
“No one’s universally liked. Beyoncé isn’t universally liked. Has that stopped her? No. Be like Beyoncé.”
I really liked the complexity of Rhiannon’s character. She is not one-dimensional or the poster child for ambition and drive. She has those in spades, but we also see how those very things hold her back.
Her love interest Samson is the perfect other half. Samson Lima completely charmed me. An ex-football player, Samson is still figuring out the next step in his career. He is a huge softy, knows just the right things to say, and is clever with his smiles. He is used to fame because his father is a legacy in football, and he knows how to use it.
Samson’s backstory is complex. I can’t explain it in a few sentences. He has a troubled past with his dad, is accidentally the advocate of good healthcare in sports, and is also the face of a new marketing campaign.
The complexity is what impressed me in The Right Swipe. The author has crafted these very realistic characters with strengths, flaws, histories, and individual careers. Enough time was spent on building up the characters and getting the readers to connect to both of them individually. Generally romance books focus more on the female lead but this book focused on both. We see both of them learn and grow.
“It’s not a weakness to take care of yourself. Asking for and taking what you need to function should never be considered a weakness.”
Being set in the dating world, the book does not hesitate to go into the details of the industry. The main characters are in rival businesses in the dating industry and hence we get quite some shop talk. It almost became a guide, at one point. But I am glad to say that there were just enough details. Not too much. So I didn’t become bored by it.
The Right Swipe also places a lot of importance on platonic relationships and affection. This is something I really appreciated. Many romance books neglect relationships out of the main romantic pairing, creating the unrealistic idea that you should strive for your one true love as they’re the most important. This book specifically talks about platonic affection, describes how good hugs are, and takes the time to briefly highlight other relationships as well.
“Nobody spoke enough about how much bodies could be starved for platonic affection. She knew she gave off strong Do Not Touch vibes, but she needed occasional hugs too.”
Another thing that I appreciated seeing was emphasis on CTE in football. CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy which is a brain degenerative disease that occurs in athletes. I’ve seen only one other book talk about this—Fumbled by Alexa Martin—which made it’s way to my favourites because it taught me about this new thing that I had NEVER heard of, despite reading several romance books starring football players.
The Right Swipe took a different approach compared to Fumbled. In the latter, it was present in the main characters’ lives but it wasn’t dealt with as an overall concept in sports. In this book, it was explained and awareness was raised showing how CTE is treated in the football industry and how healthcare needs to be better.
“I’ll hold your sweatshirt then. I’ll BE your sweatshirt.”
Now onto the main theme: romance.
Rhi and Samson’s chemistry was on point. Be it sexual tension, professional rivalry-induced debates, or casual banter—it was present and intense. I could FEEL the tension in some of the scenes. Especially since I listened to the audiobook and the voices just amped everything up.
To be honest, the romantic development, especially towards the end, did fall short. It was not everything it could have been. I was dissatisfied with a few things. But in general, it did well.
The issues between the two characters which leads up to the third act tension was well fleshed out and was not a botched job like in many romance books. But the execution wasn’t that good, in my opinion. While the building blocks of the book were great, the final execution was not upto the same level.
But no book with this ambition is perfect. A book like The Right Swipe which intends to explore so much will have it’s short falls, especially with a word-limit. If the author focused more on the romantic relationship, something else would have been neglected.
It is hard to pack in CTE awareness, mental health issues, verbal domestic harassment, career growth, manipulation, workplace discrimination and still have a completely developed romance. The Right Swipe did great with less than 400 pages. And it still managed to feel like a quick read.
“Trust is the only reason the world ever functions as it should. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, and I know that uncertainty is scary, but that’s the only way you figure out who your closest people are.”
Overall, I loved it. It wasn’t perfect but it is worthy of 5 stars for me. I do want to reread it sometime although I’m not sure of which format. Probably an ebook or a paperback because I want to properly annotate. Annotating in the audiobook is HARD, haha.
Speaking of, I highly recommend the audiobook! The voice acting went so well with the book and it made the experience really good. I gobbled the book up.
Have you read The Right Swipe or another book by Alisha Rai? What do you look for in a romance book?