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The Soulmate Equation

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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 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.

“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.

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 summer reading!” —Kate D., 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