Book Review: The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

Posted September 12, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 36 Comments

The Make-Up Test
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Jenny L. Howe
Publication Date September 13, 2022
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
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Genres: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy, Fiction / Women
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***


In this smart, swoony, rom-com debut from Jenny L. Howe, 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.


The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe is a delightful enemies-to-lovers story set in the academic world of medieval literature. 

Allison Avery is starting her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, and she’s excited to start an in-depth dive into medieval literature.  She’s worked her whole life to get into this program so she can become a Medieval Literature professor one day.  Allison is driven and very goal oriented and she can’t believe her luck when she gets her favorite professor as a mentor.  

Allison’s luck runs out when she finds out that her ex-boyfriend was also accepted to the program and later they find out they both will be competing for a career-defining research trip to Wales.  Colin is just as competitive as Allison is, and their competition heats up.  But will their competition and working together dig up old wounds, or old feelings? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this enemies to lovers story.  Allison and Colin are exactly the kind of dorky grad students you’d expect to find studying medieval literature.  I really enjoyed their banter even when they were fighting.  Allison is a very confident plus-sized person, but she grew up with a horrible father who constantly belittled her size and her academic achievements.  Colin has some family issues as well and he has something to prove and that’s what is motivating him.  

The book bogged down just a bit in the middle, there was a lot of academic medieval literature discussion that went over my head.  I think anyone who enjoys that genre will really enjoy those parts.  It was just a bit too much for me. 

I did enjoy the academic setting and the second chance romance.  You could tell these two were meant to be early on.  Their banter and the way they took care of each other were adorable.  

I highly recommend The Make-Up Test to anyone who enjoys romance.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Jenny L. Howe

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.

Have you read The Make-Up Test? Do you want to?

36 responses to “Book Review: The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

  1. I love the sound of this book. I like that it seems to have that realistic information, but it would need to be fairly short to keep my attention (these days! I still think baby brain is a thing even 4 years later…)

    Have a great week!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog

  2. Great review. I think I would like it because of the academic setting and the competition. Academia can be very competitive. “Publish or perish” is a saying that developed for a reason!

  3. This sounds like a fun read. I’ve been interested in it since I first saw the cover and read the synopsis on someone’s blog (probably yours). Sorry the middle bogged down a bit. I wonder what I’ll think about it?

  4. Jenny+McClinton

    The medieval literature would go over my head too, sounds good though with the banter between the characters, great review 😊

  5. The academic setting sounds good and the discussion on medieval literature, even if it was bit more than needed in the context seems to add a bit of substance. Glad you enjoyed this, Wendy. Great review🙂

    • Thank you, Mallika. I think it just went over my head, and if I knew more about it, I would have appreciated it more.

  6. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    I definitely liked the academic setting! Glad you enjoyed this one.

  7. An enemies to lovers romance set in an academic setting sounds like a lot of fun. On a side note, my niece is currently in a PhD program of similar nature so this one intrigues me. Wonderful review Wendy.

  8. i enjoy academic setting a lot these days and it is always fun when author include discussion on things they are working on. It makes story realistic. Great review!

  9. Great review, Wendy. I have been on the fence with this one, but your description of the characters and the banter, have convinced me to add this one. I am also a sucker for an enemies to lovers trope.