Book Review: When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski

About the Book:

Title: When We’re Thirty

Author: Casey Dembowski

Page Length: 297

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Synopsis: Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising. 

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon   

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My Review:

When Hannah Abbott opens her door on her thirtieth birthday, she never expects to see her old college friend and crush Will Thorne down on one knee with a ring in his hand. Years ago, while in college, they made a pact to marry each other if they weren’t married by thirty, and Will has come to enact the pact. Hannah, a journalist for an alternative magazine who needs health insurance, agrees to marry her old friend. Will, who secretly has romantic feelings for Hannah, is thrilled and hopeful that their friendship will turn into something more. First, they must convince everyone that their marriage is legit.

The story switches between Hannah and Will’s perspectives, which I liked. They are both well-developed and well-layered, relatable characters with realistic ambitions and challenges. Will is trying to redeem himself in his wealthy family-run business. His family is messy and complicated, and there’s a lot that Will has to contend with while trying to prove himself. Grief, betrayal, doubt, and resentment make this journey difficult. Plus, there are several toxic people in his life that do nothing but hurt him and, by extension, Hannah.

Hannah has the job of her dreams, but she is barely getting by. She struggles with a failed relationship, tension in her family, and an ongoing, painful injury. And Hannah has always been a person who leads with her head. Rational and logical, Hannah rarely acts on impulse, especially with something as important as marriage. But Will is the only man she’s ever trusted, the only man who has never let her down, and they both promise to put their friendship above all else. As Hannah and Will reconnect, they become a great support to each other and help each other deal with the messy realities of life.

The fake dating, friends-to-lovers romance between Hannah and Will is fantastic. Great friends in college, Hannah and Will have the kind of relationship where they can not see each other for years, and when they finally meet again, it’s as if no time has passed. They have such a strong connection, and from the moment they reunite, they pick up right where they left off. I love that they start as friends and take things slowly to see if they have something more. This is the most important relationship in their lives, and both are determined to keep it that way. They fit together so well, and their continual respect, trust, and admiration of each other show how deep their bond is.

Though their marriage begins in an unconventional way and for different reasons, their chemistry and underlying feelings for each other are undeniable. Of course, their relationship isn’t without problems. Secrets, the marriage pact, manipulative people, hidden feelings, and family issues cause many conflicts, and it’s interesting to see how they handle it all. Other obstacles include work troubles and class issues. Their relationship is dynamic and complex and relatable and filled with sexual tension.

Some of the other characters in the story are fabulous as well, especially Hannah and Will’s friend Kate and Hannah’s boss Riley. Kate is the kind of person who tells it like it is, and I found her honesty refreshing. Riley is the boss/friend that everyone deserves – strong, supportive, funny, and encouraging. I could easily see a continuation of the story focusing on one of these women or Will’s younger brother, who is also intriguing.

This is a wonderful story about love, friendship, and family. I love the pop culture references, the vivid New York backdrop, and the swoon-tastic and charming love story. I can’t wait to read more by this debut author and am so thankful to have received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The secondary characters.
  • The setting.
  • The music and pop culture references.

Favorite Lines:

Hope was a cruel companion.

She was a mirror, always reflecting the truths that Hannah wouldn’t notice.


This is a fabulous book for people who like rom-coms or contemporary romance. It’s also great for readers who enjoy:

  • fake dating
  • marriage pacts
  • firends-to-lovers

7 thoughts on “Book Review: When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski

  1. This sounds like a fun story. Funny story, my daughter and her best friend made that same pact, but they backed out and are now with different people. Nice review, Julie.

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