The Cult of Romance

Sarah Ayoub

The Cult of Romance
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The Cult of Romance

Sarah Ayoub

When your bestie is marrying a guy she barely knows, can you save her from the cult before it’s too late?       

Natalie is living proof that love is a scam.     

She’s traumatised by her parents' failed marriage and overwhelmed by her grandmother’s expectations of good Lebanese girls - marriage, motherhood and exceptional tabouli-making skills.     

When her best friend decides to get hitched to a guy in the motherland, Nat’s not exactly thrilled by the mammoth task before her: juggling cultural traditions, extra bridesmaid dresses and super-judgemental relatives.     

And to top it off there’s the annoyingly good-looking best man and his constant need to mansplain all of the things.     Natalie is in for the trip of her life. But can she save her friend from the cult of romance, without falling in love herself?     


‘The Cult of Romance is a vividly realised, dazzling and charming book which made me snort with laughter as much as it compelled me to pause for thought. Ayoub tackles the agonies and joys of in-betweenness, of what, who and where we make and feel homeland and heartland. Her intimacy with the worlds she writes about is obvious in her rich and subtle descriptions. Ayoub has given Australian YA literature a fresh and uniquely cross-generational and cross-border perspective on perennial themes of identity, family, friendship, loyalty and love. A young Australian Lebanese woman grappling with these questions as she navigates her parent’s homeland, Lebanon. The story invites readers to think about the many worlds-and worlds within worlds- children of migrants must navigate without losing sight of the humour, lightness and joys in the journey. Ayoub has written something truly original and special.’    - Randa Abdel-Fattah, award-winning author ofWhen Michael Met Mina   


To Natalie, marriage is a scam and love is a lie. At least that’s what her parents’ failed marriage has led her to believe. When her best friend, Janet returns from Lebanon with an engagement ring, Natalie’s response is that Janet’s making the biggest mistake of her life. Natalie is struggling with her identity as Lebanese-Australian, pushing against her Tatya’s (grandmother) expectations and the Lebanese culture. So heading to Lebanon for the first time for Janet’s wedding is terrifying. Then there’s the mansplaining, handsome best man that is driving her insane. There’s nothing I enjoy more than an enemies to lovers trope!

From the very first chapter, The Cult of Romance had me enthralled. Sarah Ayoub has created a fresh story, perfectly entwining Lebanese language into the narrative and paints a vivid picture of Lebanon and its culture. I adored Natalie. She’s such a strong character, and incredibly relatable. She’s trying to navigate a world where she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere, all while trying to do well at uni, start up a business and not lose her best friend to a man. The characters in Natalie’s life are also well written and relatable, each with their own narratives. I would definitely read a spin-off of her friends Mark and Thi and their adventures in Lebanon.This book had me squealing, cringing and yes, I did shed a few tears towards the end. Although it’s centered around a wedding, ultimately it is a story of the strengths of family, friendships, and finding where you belong. For ages 15+.

Lucie Dess is the marketing assistant at Readings

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