Book Review

The Astronaut and the Star by Jen Comfort

I so very much enjoyed The Astronaut and the Star, a romance novel with ADHD representation, bisexual representation, and a lot of happy nerd things. It wasn’t a perfect book, but it was a fun romance with great characters. The problems with the book are easier to describe than the charm of the character interactions. Suffice to say that watching these people talk to each other and navigate various interactions was a treat.

Reggie is a fiercely competitive and perfectionist astronaut whose people skills are lacking. She excels in every part of her work at NASA except public relations. Reggie wants to be the first woman on the moon, and to land a spot in the next moon landing she has to prove that she can be a people person on the ground and in social media. In hopes of proving this, she takes on a temporary job that consists of training an actor, Jon, to effectively play an astronaut in his upcoming movie.

Jon Leo is the actor in question, about to make what he hopes will be his breakout movie. He is charming, funny, self-effacing, and all over the place. He’s been interested in space since childhood and as an avid watcher of nature documentaries he has an eclectic assortment of facts at his disposal. He is high energy, extroverted, and terrible at remembering or following directions. Reggie trusts her intellect but not her feelings. Jon is ALL ABOUT feelings, but doesn’t trust his intellect.

Needless to say, Reggie and Jon find each other to be extraordinarily attractive. However, Reggie has a policy of only engaging in casual sex. She feels that she doesn’t have time for a relationship, and even if she did, she wouldn’t know how to have one, since her parents are basically ice people from the coldest center of Hell. Reggie is aware that Jon is the type of person to catch feelings, so no sex for them! This, of course doesn’t last. Much hot sex is had and many feelings are caught and romance happens and it’s all quite funny and lovely.

I had one big question after a few chapters so let’s just get this out of the way, with the caveat that sadly I am not nor have I ever been an astronaut. When the book begins, Reggie is already a very accomplished, respected astronaut. She has completed a lengthy mission on the International Space Station (ISS), during which she met her best friend who now periodically crashes at Reggie’s apartment.

Given this well-established career, why hasn’t her lack of social warmth and her disinterest in social media been more of a problem already? How did she land the ISS mission, which involves living in close proximity to other people for months? She may not have made more than one friend, but she doesn’t seem to have enemies at NASA either. The basic conflict at the start of the novel matches Reggie’s demeanor and behavior, but it doesn’t match her career history.

Reggie and Jon are both interesting, fun characters with good “opposites attract/odd couple” chemistry. Reggie is calm, methodical, perfectionist, and careful. Jon bounces around like a golden retriever puppy. It is believable when they drive each other crazy since they are so different and believable when they get along, since they actually balance each other quite well. They are at their best when they are both teaching each other something. I would have liked to see more of Reggie actually teaching Jon instead of giving him easy jobs that she thinks he won’t mess up, and I would have liked to have seen more of Jon teaching Reggie how to be camera friendly and how to make social media posts that build a following. Crucially for my investment in an HEA, I believed that Jon would not stand in the way of Reggie’s career, and vice versa.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Jon has ADHD. He is diagnosed near the end of the book, but anyone who has or knows someone who has ADHD will recognize it right away, even given that ADHD presents differently in different people. The section in which Jon explores this diagnosis is rushed, but I appreciated that it hit some key, authentic points, such as the variations of how ADHD manifests in people, the emotional component of being diagnosed as an adult, and the variety of personal approaches that people choose to take in terms of management.

I had one problem with the romance. Reggie teases Jon quite a bit about his intelligence even though it’s obvious early on that it’s a sore subject for him. I never felt that Reggie adequately and specifically told Jon that she respects his brain, and I really wanted that conversation to happen. Other than that, I could see a future for them and wanted them to be together because of their physical and emotional chemistry.

This book works largely on the strength of many unforgettable and adorable scenes, including two disastrous dinners, slapstick comedy at the astronaut training pool, hilarious conversations between Reggie and her best friend, a terrible visit with Reggie’s family, a delightful visit with Jon’s, and a scorpion encounter that has sexy and funny results. I wouldn’t normally expect the word “scorpion” to be followed by “sexy and funny results” but here we are. It’s easy to pick out the few problems with this book, but hard to convey how delightfully funny and heartwarming these and other scenes are. The quantity and quality of character interactions make all the problems seem insignificant.

This book is uneven, but it is also so much fun. If you want a grumpy heroine and cinnamon roll hero, some science stuff, and a lot of funny dialogue, I recommend this book. Don’t overthink it, and you’ll have a good time!

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The Astronaut and the Star by Jen Comfort

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  1. Kit says:

    I got this free last month as a prime member but it sounds very much like a light hearted read, one for a long train journey perhaps?

  2. JenM says:

    For some unknown reason, golden retriever sex puppy hero types are serious catnip for me LOL. Like @Kit, I also picked this up as my Feb. Amazon First Reads choice. After this review, it’s going straight to the top of the TBR mountain.

  3. Kareni says:

    This sounds like a fun read! Thanks for your review, Carrie.

  4. Lisa F says:

    I’m intrigued by this, great job Carrie!

  5. Kris Bock says:

    I suppose the answer to your question about her ability to advance in her career might be that relatively speaking a lot of people go to the space station, so they don’t all have to be the public face of NASA. The first woman to go to the moon would get a huge amount of attention, so it might be more important for her to be able to do interviews and so forth.

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