In this smart, swoony, rom-com debut from Jenny L. Howe The Make-Up Test, two college exes find themselves battling against each other—and their unresolved feelings—for a spot in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program.
Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight's Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they're both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.
What starts as a personal battle of wits (and lit) turns into all-out war when their professor announces a career-changing research trip opportunity—with one spot to fill. Competing with Colin is as natural as breathing, and after he shattered her heart two years ago, Allison refuses to let him come out on top. But when a family emergency and a late-night road trip—plus a very sexy game of Scrabble—throw them together for a weekend, she starts to wonder if they could be stronger on the same team. And if they fall for each other all over again, Allison will have to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what could be a twice-in-a-lifetime love.
In this charmingly bookish debut, The Make-Up Test embraces the truth that people can sometimes change and grow, even when you least expect it.
About the Author
Jenny L. Howe first started scribbling stories into black-and-white composition notebooks with neon pink pens when she was in junior high and never really stopped. In college, she decided to turn her love of books into a career by pursuing a Ph.D. in literature, where she spent the next few years studying bizarre and entertaining medieval romances. Now, as a professor, she teaches courses in college writing, literature, and children’s media. When she’s not writing and teaching, Jenny spends her time buried under puzzle pieces, cross-stitching her favorite characters, and taking too many pictures of her rescue dogs, Tucker and Dale. The Make-Up Test is her debut novel.
One of "September's Top New Rom-Coms"--USA Today
One of the "17 Best Fall 2022 Books That You Won't Be Able to Put Down"--Cosmopolitan
One of the "Most Anticipated September Romances"—Goodreads
One of the "24 New Books You'll Want to Read This Fall"--Buzzfeed
One of the "30 Most-Anticipated Books of 2022"--Reader's Digest
One of the "Best New Romance Novels to Spice Up Your Fall"--PopSugar
One of the "17 New Romance Books You Need to Read This September"--BookRiot
“Featuring a plus-size heroine, The Make-Up Test provides some much-needed representation in the rom-com genre…sweet and funny.” –USA Today
“Original, clever, sizzling, The Make-Up Test is the perfect mix of unique settings, lovable characters, and the exquisite agony of second chance romances. It’s the grad school, rivals-to-lover book of my wildest, sexiest dreams! I’ll read anything Jenny Howe writes!” –Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis
“Enemies-to-lovers, set in academia, with the pitfalls of imposter syndrome to navigate? Yes, please! A sweet, fresh spin on how the third time’s the charm.” --Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here
“What happens when you have to go against your ex for the chance of a lifetime while studying in the same Ph.D program? Tension and sparks, that's what!” –Cosmopolitan
“Jenny L. Howe’s comedic timing shines in this debut.” –Reader’s Digest, Editor’s Pick
“Romance readers are sure to enjoy this highly recommended debut’s fat-positive, rivals-to-lovers romp through academia. Perfect for fans of Kate Stayman-London’s One to Watch and Jen DeLuca’s Well Met.” –Library Journal (starred)
“Howe’s sparkling debut takes contemporary romance to medieval times…Romance readers yearning for brilliant plus-sized heroines will cheer for Allison’s deft handling of fatphobic insults from haters trying to steal her shine.” --Booklist
“This academia-themed love story from debut author Jenny L. Howe is recommended for fans of Beach Read and One to Watch. Bonus trivia: The book features at least one ‘sexy game of Scrabble.’ English majors are so weird.” –Goodreads, “Readers’ Most Anticipated September Romances”
“Jenny L. Howe's The Make-Up Test delivers an irresistible rom-com with a side serving of academic rivalry.” –PopSugar
“Charmingly nerdtastic...a delightfully sweet second chance, rivals-to-lovers story wrapped up in a cardigan, sprinkled liberally with Beowulf and Chaucer references, and garnished with cat socks.” –Jen DeLuca, author of Well-Met, Well-Played, and Well-Matched
“Heartfelt vulnerability wrapped in a sexy cardigan...The Make-Up Test is an A+.” --Denise Williams, author of How to Fail at Flirting and The Fastest Way to Fall
“This second-chance romance is cozier than one of Colin’s cardigans and lovelier than a crisp autumn day. I didn’t know how badly I needed a sexy Scrabble scene in my life, and now I know I’d have been incomplete without one! With clever writing that makes her grad school rivals simmer and spark on the page, Jenny Howe has crafted a love story that feels not just swoony and heart-stirring, but achingly, breathtakingly real.” –Rachel Lynn Solomon, bestselling author of The Ex-Talk and Weather Girl
“The Make-Up Test has all of the emotions of the roller coaster that's university life woven into its pages. The second-chance romance is a soothing balm to my heart, and the fat representation is exactly what I have longed to see in books. We need more stories like The Make-Up Test!” –Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties
“The Make-Up Test celebrates being who you are and staying true to yourself while also acknowledging that it’s incredibly hard when it seems like the world is working against you. A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish! A perfect companion read for fans of Ali Hazelwood and Rachel Lynn Solomon.” --Suzanne Park, author of So We Meet Again and Loathe at First Sight
“Full of deliciously biting banter, laugh-out-loud observation, and heartbreaking introspection...While body positivity, frank conversations about anxiety, and navigating fraught parent-adult child relationships and friendships on the cusp of change are sure to be relatable, it’s the bittersweet longing in Allison and Colin’s slow-burn exes-to-friends-to-lovers relationship that takes center stage....By my troth, if this second-chance debut isn’t on your TBR already, fie on you!” –Lillie Vale, author of The Shaadi Set-Up and The Decoy Girlfriend
“Insightful, inclusive, and incredibly fun, The Make-Up Test is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Jenny Howe is a romance writer to watch.” --Hannah Whitten, author of For the Wolf and For the Throne
“Deliciously clever, delightfully romantic, and wonderfully honest, The Make-Up Test is the academic romcom of my dreams. By the last page, I was desperate to read it all over again--and sign up for a classical literature class.” –Annette Christie, author of The Rehearsals
“An honest and heartfelt story that will wrap you up like a warm cardigan.” –Sonia Hartl, author of Heartbreak For Hire