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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Writing duo and reigning romance queens Christina Lauren are back with The Soulmate Equation, their most ambitious book to date.” —PopSugar

“A sexy, science-filled, and surprising romance full of warmth and wit.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chosen as a best pick by Bustle, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, E! Online, PopSugar, BuzzFeed, Goodreads, Country Living, The Pioneer Woman, Woman’s World, Bookish, Bookreporter, Frolic, and more!

The New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners returns with a witty and effervescent novel about what happens when two people with everything on the line are thrown together by science—or is it fate? Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project and One Plus One.

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

“Laugh-out-loud, sweet, charming, and humorous” (Library Journal, starred review), The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Chapter One ONE


JESSICA DAVIS USED to think it was an honest-to-God tragedy that only twenty-six percent of women believed in true love. Of course, that was nearly a decade ago, when she couldn’t imagine what it felt like to be anything but deeply and passionately obsessed with the man who would one day be her ex. Tonight, though, on her third first date in seven years, she was astounded the number was even that high.

“Twenty-six percent,” she mumbled, leaning toward the restroom mirror to apply more lipstick. “Twenty-six women out of one hundred believe true love is real.” Popping the cap back on, Jess laughed, and her exhausted reflection laughed back. Sadly, her night was far from over. She still had to make it through the entrée course; appetizers had lasted four years. Of course, some of that was probably due to Travis’s tendency to talk with his mouth full, oversharing highly specific stories about finding his wife in bed with his business partner and the ensuing messy divorce. But as far as first dates went, Jess reasoned, it could have been worse. This date was better, for sure, than the guy last week who’d been so drunk when he showed up at the restaurant that he’d nodded off before they’d even ordered.

“Come on, Jess.” She dropped the tube back into her bag. “You don’t have to make, serve, or clean up after this meal. The dishes alone are worth at least one more bitter ex-wife story.”

A stall door clicked open, startling her, and a willowy blonde emerged. She glanced at Jess with bald pity.

“God, I know,” Jess agreed with a groan. “I’m talking to myself in a bathroom. Tells you exactly how my night is going.”

Not a laugh. Not even a smile of politeness, let alone camaraderie. Instead the woman moved as far away as possible to the end of the empty row of sinks and began washing her hands.

Well.

Jess went back to rummaging through her purse but couldn’t help glancing toward the end of the counter. She knew it wasn’t polite to stare, but the other woman’s makeup was flawless, her nails perfectly manicured. How on earth did some women manage it? Jess considered leaving the house with her zipper up a victory. Once, she’d presented an entire fiscal year’s worth of data to a client with four of Juno’s sparkly butterfly barrettes still clipped to the front of her blazer. This gorgeous stranger probably hadn’t been forced to change outfits after cleaning glitter off both a cat and a seven-year-old. She probably never had to apologize for being late. She probably didn’t even have to shave—she was just naturally smooth everywhere.

“Are you okay?”

Jess blinked back to awareness, realizing the woman was speaking to her. There was really no way to pretend she hadn’t been staring directly at this stranger’s cleavage.

Resisting the urge to cover her own less-than-impressive assets, Jess offered a small, embarrassed wave. “Sorry. I was just thinking that your kitten probably isn’t covered in glitter, too.”

“My what?”

She turned back to the mirror. Jessica Marie Davis, get your shit together. Ignoring the fact that she still had an audience, Jess channeled Nana Jo into the mirror: “You have plenty of time. Go out there, eat some guacamole, go home,” she said aloud. “There’s no ticking clock on any of this.”

“I’M JUST SAYING, the clock is ticking.” Fizzy waved vaguely toward Jess’s butt. “That booty won’t be high and tight forever, you know.”

“Maybe not,” Jess said, “but Tinder isn’t going to help me find a quality guy to hold it up, either.”

Fizzy lifted her chin defensively. “I’ve had some of the best sex of my life from Tinder. I swear you give up too quickly. We are in the era of women taking pleasure and not apologizing for getting theirs first, second, and one more time for the road. Travis might be ex-wife obsessed, but I saw his photo and he was fine as hell. Maybe he would have rocked your world for an hour or two after churros, but you’ll never know, because you left before dessert.”

Jess paused. Maybe… “Goddammit, Fizzy.”

Her best friend leaned back, smug. If Felicity Chen decided to start selling Amway, Jess would simply hand over her wallet. Fizzy was made of charisma, witchcraft, and bad judgment. Those qualities made her a great writer, but were also partly the reason Jess had a misspelled song lyric tattooed on the inside of her right wrist, had had disastrous not-even-close-to–Audrey Hepburn bangs for six depressing months in 2014, and had attended a costume party in LA that turned out to be a BDSM scene in a dungeon basement. Fizzy’s response to Jess’s “You brought me to a sex party in a dungeon?” was, “Yeah, everyone in LA has dungeons!”

Fizzy tucked a strand of glossy black hair behind her ear. “Okay, let’s make plans for your next date.”

“No.” Opening her laptop, Jess logged into her email. But even with her attention fixed elsewhere, it was hard to miss Fizzy’s scowl. “Fizz, it’s hard with a kid.”

“That’s always your excuse.”

“Because I always have a kid.”

“You also have grandparents who live next door and are more than happy to watch her while you’re on a date, and a best friend who thinks your kid is cooler than you are. We all just want you to be happy.”

Jess knew they did. That was why she’d agreed to test the Tinder waters in the first place. “Okay, let me humor you,” she said. “Let’s say I meet someone amazing. Where am I going to hook up with him? It was different when Juno was two. Now I have a light sleeper seven-year-old with perfect hearing, and the last time I went to a guy’s place it was so messy, a pair of his boxers stuck to my back when I got up to use the bathroom.”

“Gross.”

“Agreed.”

“Still.” Fizzy rubbed a thoughtful finger beneath her lip. “Single parents make it work all the time, Jess. Look at the Brady Bunch.”

“Your best example is a fifty-year-old sitcom?” The harder Fizzy tried to convince her, the less Jess actually wanted to get back out there. “In 1969 only thirteen percent of parents were single. Carol Brady was ahead of her time. I am not.”

“Vanilla latte!” the barista, Daniel, shouted over the din of the coffee shop.

Fizzy motioned that she wasn’t done being a pain in Jess’s ass before standing and making her way to the counter.

Jess had been coming to Twiggs coffee shop every weekday for almost as long as she’d been freelancing. Her life, which essentially existed in a four-block radius, was exceedingly manageable as it was. She walked Juno to school just down the street from their apartment complex while Fizzy grabbed the best table—in the back, away from the glare of the window but near the outlet that hadn’t yet gone wobbly. Jess crunched numbers while Fizzy wrote novels, and in an effort to not be leeches, they ordered something at least every ninety minutes, which had the added benefit of incentivizing them to work more, gossip less.

Except today. She could already tell Fizzy was going to be unrelenting.

“Okay.” Her friend returned with her drink and a huge blueberry muffin, and took a moment to get situated. “Where was I?”

Jess kept her eyes on the email in front of her, pretending to read. “I think you were about to say that it’s my life and that I should do what I think is best.”

“We both know that’s not something I would say.”

“Why am I your friend?”

“Because I immortalized you as the villain in Crimson Lace, and you became a fan favorite, so I can’t kill you off.”

“Sometimes I wonder if you’re answering my questions,” Jess grumbled, “or continuing an ongoing conversation in your head.”

Fizzy began peeling the paper off her muffin. “What I was going to say is that you can’t throw in the towel because of one bad date.”

“It’s not just the one bad date,” Jess said. “It’s the exhausting and alien process of trying to be appealing to men. I’m a freelance statitician and consider my sexiest outfit to be my old Buffy shirt and a pair of cutoffs. My favorite pajamas are one of Pops’s old undershirts and some maternity yoga pants.”

Fizzy whimpered out a plaintive “No.”

“Yes,” Jess said emphatically. “On top of that, I had a kid when most people our age were still lying about enjoying Jägermeister. It’s hard to make myself seem polished in a dating profile.”

Fizzy laughed.

“I hate taking time away from Juno for some guy I’m probably never going to see again.”

Fizzy let that sink in for a beat, dark eyes fixed in disbelief. “So, you’re… done? Jessica, you went on three dates with three hot, if dull, men.”

“I’m done until Juno is older, yeah.”

She regarded Jess with suspicion. “How much older?”

“I don’t know.” Jess picked up her coffee, but her attention was snagged when the man they referred to as “Americano” stepped into Twiggs, striding to the front precisely on cue—8:24 in the morning—all long legs and dark hair and surly, glowering vibes, not making eye contact with a single person. “Maybe when she’s in college?”

When Jess’s eyes left Americano, horror was rippling across Fizzy’s expression. “College? When she’s eighteen?” She lowered her voice when every head in the coffee shop swiveled. “You’re telling me that if I sat down to write the novel of your future love life, I’d be writing a heroine who is happily showing her body to a dude for the first time in eighteen years? Honey, no. Not even your perfectly preserved vagina can pull that off.”

“Felicity.”

“Like an Egyptian tomb in there. Practically mummified,” Fizzy mumbled into a sip.

Up front, Americano paid for his drink and then stepped to the side, absorbed in typing something on his phone. “What is his deal?” Jess asked quietly.

“You have such a crush on Americano,” Fizzy said. “Do you realize you watch him whenever he comes in here?”

“Maybe I find his demeanor fascinating.”

Fizzy let her eyes drop to his ass, currently hidden by a navy coat. “We’re calling it his ‘demeanor’ now?” She bent, writing something in the Idea Notebook she kept near her laptop.

“He comes in here and emits the vibe that if anyone tried to talk to him, he would do a murder,” Jess quipped.

“Maybe he’s a professional hit man.”

Jess, too, inspected him top to bottom. “More like a socially constipated medieval art professor.” She tried to remember when he’d started coming in here. Maybe two years ago? Almost every day, same time every morning, same drink, same sullen silence. This was a quirky neighborhood, and Twiggs was its heart. People came in to linger, to sip, to chat; Americano stood out not for being different or eccentric but for being almost entirely silent in a space full of boisterous, lovable weirdos. “Nice clothes, but inside them he’s all grouchy,” Jess mumbled.

“Well, maybe he needs to get laid, kind of like someone else I know.”

“Fizz. I’ve had sex since birthing Juno,” Jess said in exasperation. “I’m just saying I don’t have a lot left over for commitment, and I’m not willing to endure boring or outright terrible dates just for orgasms. They make battery-operated appliances for that.”

“I’m not talking just about sex,” Fizzy said. “I’m talking about not always putting yourself last.” Fizzy paused to wave to Daniel, who was wiping down a table nearby. “Daniel, did you catch all of that?”

He straightened and gave her the smile that had made Fizzy write the hero of Destiny’s Devil with Daniel in mind, and do all manner of dirty things to him in the book that she hadn’t dared do in real life.

And would never do: Daniel and Fizzy went out once last year but quickly ended things when they ran into each other at a family reunion. Their family reunion. “When can’t we hear you?” he asked.

“Good, then please tell Jess that I’m right.”

“You want me to have an opinion about whether Jess should be on Tinder just to get laid?” he asked.

“Okay, yup.” Jess groaned. “This is what rock bottom feels like.”

“Or whichever dating site she likes!” Fizzy cried, ignoring her. “This woman is sexy and young. She shouldn’t waste her remaining hot years in mom jeans and old sweatshirts.”

Jess looked down at her outfit, ready to protest, but the words shriveled in her throat.

“Maybe not,” Daniel said, “but if she’s happy, does it matter whether or not she’s frumpy?”

She beamed at Fizzy in triumph. “See? Daniel is sort of on Team Jess.”

“You know,” Daniel said to her now, balling the washrag in his hands, smug with insider knowledge, “Americano is a romantic, too.”

“Let me guess,” Jess said, grinning. “He’s the host of a Dothraki-themed sex dungeon?”

Only Fizzy laughed. Daniel gave a coy shrug. “He’s about to launch a cutting-edge matchmaking company.”

Both women went silent. A what now?

“Matchmaking?” Jess asked. “The same Americano who is a regular here in this coffee shop and yet never smiles at anyone?” She pointed behind her to the door he’d exited through only a minute ago. “That guy? With his intense hotness marred by the moody, antisocial filter?”

“That’s the one,” Daniel said, nodding. “You could be right that he needs to get laid, but I’m guessing he does just fine for himself.”

AT LEAST THIS particular Fizzy tangent happened on a Monday—Pops picked up Juno from school on Mondays and took her to the library. Jess was able to get a proposal together for Genentech, set up a meeting with Whole Foods for next week, and bash through a few spreadsheets before she had to walk home and start attacking dinner.

Her car, ten years old with barely thirty thousand miles logged on it, was so rarely used that Jess couldn’t remember the last time she’d had to fill the tank. Everything in her world, she thought contentedly on her walk home, was within arm’s reach. University Heights was the perfect blend of apartments and mismatched houses nestled between tiny restaurants and independent businesses. Frankly, the sole benefit of last night’s date was that Travis had agreed to meet at El Zarape just two doors down; the only thing worse than having the world’s most boring dinner conversation would have been driving to the Gaslamp to do it.

With about an hour until sunset, the sky had gone a heavily bruised gray-blue, threatening rain that’d send any Southern Californian driver into a confused turmoil. A sparse crowd was getting Monday levels of rowdy on the deck of the new Kiwi-run brewery down the street, and the ubiquitous line at Bahn Thai was quickly turning into a tangle of hungry bodies; three butts were attached to humans currently ignoring the sign for customers not to sit on the private stoop next door to the restaurant. Nana and Pops’s tenant, Mr. Brooks, had installed a doorbell camera for the front units, and almost every morning he gave Jess a detailed accounting of how many college kids vaped on his front step while waiting for a table.

Home came into view. Juno had named their apartment complex “Harley Hall” when she was four, and although it didn’t have nearly the pretentious vibe required to be a capital-H Hall, the name stuck. Harley Hall was bright green and stood out like an emerald against the earth-tone stucco of the adjacent buildings. The street-facing side was decorated with a horizontal strip of pink and purple tiles forming a harlequin pattern; electric-pink window boxes spilled brightly colored mandevilla most of the year. Jess’s grandparents Ronald and Joanne Davis had bought the property the year Pops retired from the navy. Coincidentally this was the same year Jess’s long-term boyfriend decided he wasn’t father material and wanted to retain the option to put his penis in other ladies. Jess finished school and then packed up two-month-old Juno, moving into the ground floor two-bedroom unit that faced Nana and Pops’s bungalow at the back end of the property. Given that they’d raised Jess down the road in Mission Hills until she’d gone to college at UCLA, the transition was basically zero. And now, her small and perfect village helped her raise her child.

The side gate opened with a tiny squeak, then latched closed behind her. Down a narrow path, Jess stepped into the courtyard that separated her apartment from Nana Jo and Pops’s bungalow. The space looked like a lush garden somewhere in Bali or Indonesia. A handful of stone fountains gurgled quietly, and the primary sensation was bright: magenta, coral, and brassy-purple bougainvillea dominated the walls and fences.

Immediately, a small, neatly French-braided child tackled Jess. “Mom, I got a book about snakes from the library, did you know that snakes don’t have eyelids?”

“I—”

“Also, they eat their food whole, and their ears are only inside their heads. Guess where you can’t find snakes?” Juno stared up at her, blue eyes unblinking. “Guess.”

“Canada!”

“No! Antarctica!”

Jess led them inside, calling “No way!” over her shoulder.

“Way. And remember that cobra in The Black Stallion? Well, cobras are the only kind of snakes that build nests, and they can live to be twenty.”

That one actually shocked Jessica. “Wait, seriously?” She dropped her bag on the couch just inside the door and moved to the pantry to dig around for dinner options. “That’s insane.”

“Yes. Seriously.”

Juno went quiet behind her, and understanding dropped like a weight in Jess’s chest. She turned to find her kid wearing the enormous-eyed expression of preemptive begging. “Juno, baby, no.”

“Please, Mom?”

“No.”

“Pops said maybe a corn snake. The book says they’re ‘very docile.’ Or a ball python?”

“A python?” Jess set a pot of water on the stove to boil. “Are you out of your mind, child?” She pointed to the cat, Pigeon, asleep in the dying stretch of daylight streaming through the window. “A python would eat that creature.”

“A ball python, and I wouldn’t let it.”

“If Pops is encouraging you to get a snake,” Jess said, “Pops can keep it over at his house.”

“Nana Jo already said no.”

“I bet she did.”

Juno growled, collapsing onto the couch. Jess walked over and sat down, drawing her in for a cuddle. She was seven but small; she still had baby hands with dimples on the knuckles and smelled like baby shampoo and the woody fiber of books. When Juno wrapped her small arms around Jess’s neck, she breathed the little girl in. Juno had her own room now, but she’d slept with her mom until she was four, and sometimes Jess would still wake up in the middle of the night and experience a sharp stab of longing for the warm weight of her baby in her arms. Jess’s own mother used to say she needed to break Juno of the habit, but parenting advice was the last thing Jamie Davis should be giving to anyone. Besides, it wasn’t like anyone else ever occupied that side of the mattress.

And Juno was a master cuddler, a gold-medal Olympian in the snuggle. She pressed her face to Jess’s neck and breathed in, wiggling closer. “Mama. You went on a date last night,” she whispered.

“Mm-hmm.”

Juno had been excited for the date, not only because she adored her great-grandparents and got Nana Jo’s cooking when Jess was out, but also because they’d recently watched Adventures in Babysitting, and Fizzy’d told her it was a pretty accurate depiction of what dating was like. In Juno’s mind, Jess might end up dating Thor.

“Did you go downtown? Did he bring you flowers?” She pulled back. “Did you kiss him?”

Jess laughed. “No, I did not. We had dinner, and I walked home.”

Juno studied her, eyes narrowed. She seemed pretty sure that more was supposed to happen on a date. Popping up like she’d remembered something, she jogged to her roller backpack near the door. “I got you a book, too.”

“You did?”

Juno walked back over and crawled into her lap, handing it over.

Middle Aged and Kickin’ It!: A Woman’s Definitive Guide to Dating Over 40, 50 and Beyond.

Jess let out a surprised laugh. “Did your Auntie Fizz put you up to this?”

Juno’s giggle rolled out of her, delighted. “She texted Pops.”

Over the top of her head, Jess caught a glimpse of the dry-erase board next to the fridge, and a tingling spread from her fingertips up to her arms. The words NEW YEARS GOALS were written in Juno’s bubbly handwriting.

NANA & POPS

Get a personal trayner

Take a wock evry day

JUNO

Lern to like brocooli

Make my bed evry mornning

Try Something New Sunday!

MOM

Try Something New Sunday!

Nana ses be more selfish!

Do more things that skare me

Okay, Universe, Jessica thought. I get it. If Mrs. Brady could be a trailblazer, maybe it was time for Jess to try, too.
This reading group guide for The Soulmate Equation includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard . . . and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. When we first meet Jess in Chapter 1, what do we learn about her as a character through her moment of reflection in the restroom? How does Jess’s perception of herself differ from Fizzy’s, Juno’s, and River’s perceptions of her? Does her self-perception change over the course of the novel?

2. In Chapter 3, Lisa asks, “Have you ever wondered what a soulmate truly is? Is love a quality you can quantify?” In the same section, she explains the GeneticAlly method of testing for factors of attraction and long-term emotional compatibility. Do you believe love is scientifically quantifiable? Are there any other factors at play?

3. The DNADuo app is primarily designed for romantic love, with one of the testing criteria being attraction. Do you think there could be a spin-off app that tests and matches people for types of platonic love? Discuss whether matches of platonic love would be classified as soulmates or something else.

4. Many dating apps and sites give users tests to determine compatibility, and there are multiple genetic ancestry and profiling tools currently on the market. Do you think something like DNADuo might become a reality someday?

5. Much of Jess’s identity is wrapped up in her relationship with her mother. Discuss how that relationship affects her decisions throughout the novel. Jess often defines herself by their differences, but do she and her mother share any commonalities?

6. In Chapter 9, Fizzy comments, “I didn’t expect my dates to be life-altering, and they weren’t. Was it because the test is right, or because I didn’t expect them to be soulmates?” Discuss the potential effect of knowing the statistical likelihood of breaking up before you begin dating someone. Do you believe the app creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, or is the algorithm that accurate?

7. Base Matches are the most common, with rarity increasing through each level of compatibility. Why do you think Diamond Matches are so rare?

8. Many of the families shown in the novel are departures from the traditional idea of a nuclear family. Jess, Fizzy, River, and Juno all have unique relationships with their parents, grandparents, and siblings. Discuss the depiction of family dynamics in the novel.

9. In Chapter 10, River says, “I’ll believe the test if it says we are biologically compatible, but I’m not a scientific zealot, Jess. I recognize the element of choice.” Discuss how the element of choice might affect soulmates. Do you think the effect of choice works differently for Base Matches than for Diamond Matches?

10. GeneticAlly’s test is capable of identifying genetic commonalities, not personality traits. However, many of the high-level couples seem to have similar senses of humor, life goals, and dispositions. What do you think this says about nature versus nurture?

11. In Chapter 12, after the interview and photo shoot with the San Diego

Union-Tribune, Jess comments on the mutual attraction she and River have, saying, “I don’t know about soulmate, but I’d admit to lust.” Discuss the relationship of love and lust.

12. River and Jess’s relationship evolves from strangers to adversaries to lovers to loving partners. Can you identify specific points where these changes occurred? For each character, when do you think their feelings began to shift from attraction to love?

13. Throughout the novel, Jess feels concerned and conflicted about dividing her time between her work, her daughter, and her budding relationship with River. Do you think she achieves a balance? Discuss the idea of “having it all” in terms of Jess’s portrayal as a modern working mother.

14. In Chapter 15, one of the cocktail party guests puts forth the question “What happens if you match like this with someone else?” What do you think would happen? Do you believe it’s possible to have more than one soulmate? How does it affect your perspective if a new soulmate match had an even higher compatibility score?

15. By the end of the novel, River has seen the accurate test results for his compatibility with Jess, but Jess decides against reading the results. How do you think their decisions might affect their relationship going forward?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. At the end of the novel, River hands Jess an envelope with their DNADuo test data, but she decides not to look. Would you look in the envelope?

2. The idea of different people expressing themselves through distinct expressions of love has become a popular topic when discussing modern relationships. Based on their behavior toward each other, what would you say are Jess’s and River’s languages of love? Do they express love differently with family members than with each other?

3. The Soulmate Equation is centered around modern dating practices. Compare and contrast modern, app-based dating with more traditional methods. What are some of the similarities and differences between having a potential partner selected by an app versus being set up by mutual friends? What about having a match chosen by parental figures?
Photo by Alyssa Michelle.

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York TimesUSA TODAY, and #1 internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You / Hating You, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night StandThe UnhoneymoonersTwice in a Blue Moon, and The Soulmate Equation. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com, @ChristinaLauren on Instagram, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll give this book to everyone you know. Quintessential feel-good fiction from masters of the genre, I adore their humor and emotion on the page! Shout out to Fizzy, Nana and Pop, and Juno—they all steal the show, but the romance is to die for!”

—Hannah B., Senior Editor, on The Soulmate Equation

Praise for The Soulmate Equation

“Lauren, the author duo behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other rom-coms, not only introduce a fascinating and unique premise, but flawlessly execute it with their trademark humor and charm... A sexy, science-filled, and surprising romance full of warmth and wit.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This latest romance by the duo Christina Lauren, following The Honey-Don't List (2020), is another winner.”

– Booklist (Starred Review)

"Lauren (The Unhoneymooners) delivers a charming romance sparked by a DNA match... Lauren creates tension and feel-good moments without making the plot too predictable. This is a sweet treat." 

– Publishers Weekly

“With the laugh-out-loud voice that Lauren’s die-hard fans adore, this sweet, charming, and humorous book is a perfect match for readers looking for a low-stakes, high swoon-factor romance.” 

– Library Journal (starred review)

“Writing duo and reigning romance queens Christina Lauren are back with The Soulmate Equation, their most ambitious book to date.”

– POPSUGAR

"The writing team of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings—authors of more than 25 novels, including the ‘Beautiful’ series—makes its hardcover debut with this funny romance about a single mom who trusts data more than men. That’s put to the test when a new DNA-based dating service matches her with the creator of the genetic profiling technology, a mystery man who also frequents her coffee shop."

– San Antonio Express-News

“[A] novel with a fascinating blend of modern science and old-fashioned attraction… Sweet and thoughtful, The Soulmate Equation explores what makes people click.” 

– Shelf Awareness

The Soulmate Equation is refreshing in that the characters don’t waste time agonizing over whether they have chemistry. In fact, that’s the whole premise: Jess Davis, a single mom, and River Peña, a handsome scientist, have matched on his dating app, which analyzes DNA to determine compatibility. Unlike similar books in the genre, the plot focuses not on whether they will realize their attraction but rather on if two people who are clearly a match will put in the effort required to make a relationship flourish. In that way, it’s much more relatable and realistic than many rom-coms...” 

– USA Today

“After countless bestsellers, virtually every new release from the duo Christina Lauren generates plenty of (justified) buzz months in advance. (Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings.) One of the most anticipated releases of the summer, The Soulmate Equation is a rom-com inspired by the proliferation of at-home DNA tests and what the advancement of this technology could mean for our lives beyond just finding out more about our genetic backgrounds. For instance, imagine what could happen by cutting out the dating apps and going straight for...a DNA matchmaking test.” 

– Fortune

“[A] charming and thoughtful romantic comedy, populated not only by an appealing protagonist but also by several memorable supporting characters… [Readers] will be rooting for these two statistical soulmates to make it --- no matter how long the odds.”

– Bookreporter

Can DNA determine your soulmate? This is the fascinating question behind Christina Lauren’s witty and highly original new novel, which follows a statistician and single mother who signs up for a dating company using DNA as its matchmaking model — only to find herself matched to the company’s unctuous, unappealing founder. A surprisingly romantic, science-based take on finding love and happily ever after.

– BookBub

“Friends, this book is witty and sweet and so swoony. I rooted for Jess and River from the outset and laughed out loud more times than I could count. Add it to your to-be-read list, ASAP; future you will appreciate it.”

– Washington Post

 Praise for In a Holidaze

"A fantastical twist on holiday cheer in this hilarious and heartwarming rom-com... a perfect Christmas treat."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Take one lovably flawed heroine, add a doting boy-next-door hero, and sprinkle in a cozy family holiday, and you have the recipe for a delicious time-looping romantic comedy from best-selling duo Lauren."

– Library Journal (starred review)

“A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"Sweet and steamy!"

– USA Today

"In a Holidaze is everything I’ve ever wanted in a wintry love story. As hilarious as it is sweet, and sexy as it is tender, this story is pure, irresistible magic from start to finish. I couldn’t possibly love this book any more—my favorite Christina Lauren novel yet!"

– Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

"Christina Lauren's In a Holidaze is the perfect fresh take on finding your joy and falling in love. One page in and you want to put up your tree at all times of the year, sip hot cocoa, and dive into a marvelous cast of characters while staying on your toes as to what will happen next."

– New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan

“An absolutely dazzling holiday romance: clever and cozy and deliciously sexy, with a cast of characters and a spirit-of-the-season lesson you won’t soon forget.”

– Kate Clayborn, author of Love Lettering

Praise for The Honey-Don't List

"Lauren (The Unhoneymooners) delivers a breezy, tongue-in-cheek rom-com as insightful as it is irreverent. Readers will laugh out loud.“

– Publishers Weekly

“A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren's latest, supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope. When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fans will enjoy this charming romance.”

– Library Journal

"[An] abosrbing romance."

– Booklist

"Christina Lauren (The Unhoneymooners; Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating) has created charming protagonists to root for... [A] touching romantic comedy."

– Shelf Awareness

Praise for Twice in a Blue Moon 

“The writing duo Christina Lauren have written another entertaining and moving romance, this time crafting a second-chance story about a couple whose intense, youthful holiday fling ends in heartbreak."

– Booklist

"This emotional, sweet, and surprising novel about first loves and second chances will leave a tender spot in your heart."

– Shondaland

“[The] story… is worth the wait, and the rich family backstories add sweetness... [with] a twist that offers readers something unexpected and new.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"With a then-and-now plot similar to Lauren’s Love and Other Words, the writing duo’s latest has a youthful voice that may be a good fit for fans of new adult romances."

– Library Journal

"Readers inclined toward narratives of forgiveness will appreciate this story of learning to leave the past in the past.”

– Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Unhoneymooners

"What a joyful, warm, touching book! I laughed so hard I cried more than once, I felt the embrace of Olive’s huge, loving, complicated, hilarious family, and my heart soared at the ending. This is the book to read if you want to smile so hard your face hurts." 

– Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal

"Witty and downright hilarious, with just the right amount of heart, The Unhoneymooners is a perfect feel-good romantic comedy. Prepare to laugh and smile from cover to cover.”

– Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test

"Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Lauren brilliantly wields familiar rom-com tropes—enemies to lovers, fake marriage, even height differences—to craft a delightful romance that will have readers hanging on every word.”

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Sassy and appealing, writing duo Lauren’s ( My Latest Half-Night Stand) latest endeavor is sure to please. A perfect read for beach or poolside, this is one hot summer story not to miss!”

– Library Journal (starred review)

"Lauren's (after Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, 2018) latest is a sexy, hilarious rom-com that offers a look into the bonds of a large Mexican-American family and between twin sisters as well as at whether blood is thicker than water. Readers will laugh out loud… Perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne.”

– Booklist

“Lighthearted, laugh-out-loud funny and all too accessible (as the many Torres aunts and cousins keep butting into Ami's and Olive's lives), The Unhoneymooners is delightful. Olive's initial dislike of Ethan, tempered by her slow realization of his good qualities, makes for a charming and enjoyable romance.”

– Shelf Awareness

Praise for My Favorite Half-Night Stand

"A funny, sexy page-turner that warns: Keep your friends close and their avatars closer.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"This is a messy and sexy look at digital dating that feels fresh and exciting." 

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"You can never go wrong with a Christina Lauren novel...  Yet again, Christina Lauren offer up a delectable, moving take on modern dating with My Favorite Half-Night Stand, reminding us all that when it comes to intoxicating, sexy, playful romance that has its finger on the pulse of contemporary love this duo always swipes right."

 

– Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

"With exuberant humor and unforgettable characters, this romantic comedy is a standout."

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In Lauren's hilarious standalone... Lauren finds the perfect balance between charming moments and sultry episodes."

– Publishers Weekly

"Lauren (Love and Other Words, 2018) has penned a hilariously zany and heartfelt novel... the story is sure to please readers looking for a fun-filled novel to escape everyday life with."

– Booklist

"The story skips along…propelled by rom-com momentum and charm.” 

– The New York Times Book Review

Praise for Roomies

"This book has everything that makes romance novels great: a heroine's journey to self-discovery, a leading man worthy of a woman's love, and plenty of misty tears and full-on belly laughs along the way. Another knockout by Lauren."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Lauren’s standalone brims with authentic characters and a captivating plot."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“For decades, the tale of a marriage of convenience that becomes something more has inspired countless romances. With Roomies, Christina Lauren put a fresh, modern spin on the trope with their completely un-put-down-able green card romp…. Lauren masters rom-com banter and plotting, while also reminding us that the best entries in the genre are all about recognizing our own value regardless of relationship status. One of our 10 best romances of 2017. A+.”

– Entertainment Weekly

More books from this author: Christina Lauren

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