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Two women standing with luggage in front of an airport window, looking at each other, smiling. The title, author, and quote "Love is in the air" are also on the cover.
  1. Queerbrary: Reviews/

Ariel's Romance Corner: Fly with Me

·909 words·5 mins
Ariel DeWinter
HEA writer using the power of kissing books to bring a little more love into the world.


367 pages, 2023, published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Olive, an ER nurse, is terrified of flying. This doesn’t stop her from chasing her dreams; or, more specifically, the dreams of her brother. On the way to run a half-marathon at Walt Disney World, Olive answers a call for a medical professional on her flight to save a man from a severe allergic reaction. After landing in Atlanta, having diverted for the medical emergency, she’s introduced to the other protagonist and co-pilot of the plane, Stella. After accidentally going viral for her in-flight antics, Stella joins Olive to for the trip down to Orlando for the marathon and Stella hatches her plan to use Olive’s moment of inadvertent fame to get the promotion she’s been craving. Stella chafes under the “boy’s club” rules at her small airline; after getting ignored for promotion after promotion, she decides the best way to get the attention of the higher-ups is to start ‘dating’ the woman who propelled the airline onto the news. Add in Olive’s obsessive ex, Lindsay, and there’s a good chance neither of the love-struck women wind up with the ending they wanted.

In a shoutout to the author, it’s absolutely obvious that the author, Andie Burke, has experience working in a hospital. The descriptions of staff interactions, Olive’s time in her brother’s hospital room, and the mental monologue while she’s working with the allergy patient on the flight are top-notch. Andie really communicates what being in a hospital (as someone who’s not a patient) is like, and I could absolutely get behind her descriptions.

The text itself though suffers heavily from developmental editing issues to the point where it’s distracting while reading the text. In the beginning, Olive saves a man who is having an allergic reaction to peanuts. During her heroic leap past her own fear of being in an airplane, she’s filmed and the video is uploaded while the plane is in the air. Though they land fifteen minutes later, somehow the clip of her administering two EpiPens to the man has ‘gone viral’, enough so that Stella thinks that’s what Olive is crying about when she finds her a few minutes after disembarking. At this point, it’s about 10pm, and the video gets enough views that a news crew is waiting for Olive when she finishes the half-marathon at about noon the next day. For administering EpiPens, it comes across as a bit of an extreme reaction.

Stella attaches herself to Olive at the hip, and while Olive is literally thinking about attraction eleven pages after meeting, Stella only sees her as a means to an end. Stella’s mannerisms involve being a jerk to Olive and stereotypes of autistic / ADHD hyper-focus used as ‘quirky traits’, mostly when Stella creates a full three-ring binder for Olive of her plan to use the poor woman as a prop for her own promotion. Somehow, Olive does not see this as exploitative and goes along with the plan in the hopes that Stella might actually be gay.

More shenanigans ensue around Lindsay, the obsessive ex, recurring as a character who has done so much emotional damage to Olive that she desperately needs therapy. Olive’s fame as the nurse who saved a Disney employee (who is only named once in the book and referred to only as “Mickey Mouse” in the rest of the text) continues to grow throughout the book, culminating in Lindsay using an old key to trespass in Olive’s apartment, look through her belongings, and publicly expose the fake dating scheme after stealing the binder. Besides this, she only appears as a foil to show how emotionally damaged Olive is.

While I would normally not discuss parts of the ending, it is so flat and unfulfilling that I must say a few words on it.

🚨 Spoilers ahead in the next paragraph! 🚨

At the end of the book, Stella does indeed use Olive as her cardboard prop at a fancy awards dinner for the airline, at which the upper ranks of the airline laugh at her for being a woman and daring to desire a promotion. In answer to this, Stella decides that the thing she has spent the entire book dreaming of (and literal years fighting for) is not worth it after all and quits her job in the final pages with no warning. There is no resolution, and we do not find out whether she is successful in achieving her dreams… but she does get her nurse-turned-social-media-star-and-occasional-cardboard-cutout Olive in the end, so maybe it all works out?

For how much I’ve griped, there were several scenes that had me smiling and laughing along – or feeling Olive’s pain as she struggles with difficult decisions at the hospital. The family dynamics on Olive’s side felt very real, and I wish that Stella felt as three-dimensional as Olive does, though she is not without faults. The sex scenes were vibrant and enjoyable, but their excitement was quickly overshadowed by yet another sub-plot rearing its head. Overall, I’m giving Fly with Me a 2.5 / 5.

While this book did have some parts that had me giggling, it’s clear that this is a debut title. Good and bad mash together here, and the overall spark of romance gets dragged down by competing sub-plots. With one likeable character and one that left me scratching my head, Fly with Me struggles to get off the ground.

Cover from PopSugar.