Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz is a romcom novel set in Glasgow in 2001, in which Vicky Romeo—heartbreaker of the gay scene who dreams of making her way as an actor—meets her match in Julie Turner, who isn’t falling at her feet as expected. Romeo can’t get her Juliet out of her head, but the course of true love does not run smooth, with stereotypes crushed, prejudices faced up to, and personal dramas abound in their friendship circle. At the same time, Vicky wants to pull off getting a role and performing in an all-female production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and falling in love wasn’t a complication she expected.
This is a charming novel that is incredibly detailed and really paints a picture of the characters and the time period (to the extent it’s hard not to come away from it with Atomic Kitten in your head). Vicky is a hilarious, flawed protagonist who is forced to confront some of her own prejudices and selfishness whilst navigating her own feelings about love, family, and who she is. There is a vein of learning greater acceptance and kindness running underneath the novel, which doesn’t shy away from characters’ views on sexuality and stereotypes and the need for greater understanding even from people who face prejudice themselves. To balance this, there is also a lot of witty banter and romance, and it is a fun read that allows characters to be loud, brash, and themselves.
If you’re looking for a funny novel with personality and a vivid setting and characters, Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz fills the brief, and proves that romantic comedy is not just the domain of straight, posh characters and scenarios.