Jacqueline Firkins's The Predictable Heartbreaks of Imogen Finch is a beautiful story of friendship, and second chances at love.
Imogen Finch has just been through her seventeenth breakup. She saw it coming, so she's not as crushed as she might be, but with all seventeen of her exes leaving her for other partners, she's come to believe a prediction her well-intentioned and possibly clairvoyant mother made over twenty years ago: that Imogen would never come first at anything or to anyone. Is her love life failing due to a magical curse? Insufficient effort? Poor timing or personality mismatches? Everyone has opinions on the matter.
Imogen's ready to give up altogether. But when Eliot Swift, her secret high school crush, returns to their small coastal town after a decade of nomadic travels, Imogen has new motivation to try again. Eliot's full of encouragement. He suggests that her curse is not only imagined, it's easily breakable. All they need is one win--any win--and she can believe in love, and in herself again.
From trivia games to swimming races to corn-shucking contests, the pair sets out to snag Imogen her first first. But when victory proves more elusive than Eliot anticipated, and when his deep-seeded wanderlust compels him to depart for far away places, Imogen fears she's destined to remain in second place forever. Fortunately for them both, sometimes magic lingers in the most unexpected places. And love is far from predictable.
Firkins (Marlowe Banks, Redesigned) delivers a charming friends-to-lovers romance that runs surprisingly deep. When Imogen Finch was a child, her psychic mother prophesied that she would be destined for perpetual second place—and a lifetime of disappointments has, to Imogen's mind, proven that prophecy true. Her relationships inevitably fail, and her harried days consist of juggling several jobs while taking care of her demanding mother. Then the only boy who ever really mattered to her returns to town, and Imogen decides to make the best of what she knows will be a doomed relationship. World traveler Elliot Swift has done everything he can to distance himself from his hometown and his cold parents, but when a family emergency brings him back, he finds friendships he still values and a second chance with a love he always thought was unrequited. But can romance conquer both Elliot's lifetime of wanderlust and Imogen's curse? Happily, the more time these two spend together, the more Elliot helps Imogen see that she's the one who's been putting herself second. To get her happy ending, she first needs to learn to love herself. It's a strong message, and Firkins drives it home well. Readers will fall in love with the emotional depth of this outing.