Romance is a Bonus Book (로맨스는 별책부록) is a lovely surprise. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I’m taken aback by how invested I’ve become. Seriously, I love each and every one of these characters and kind of want to ramble about them, so this review is a bit spoilery! It’s just such a likeable show with a likeable cast with a unique, heartfelt premise and relatable storyline and I must EXPLAIN. ♡_♡
The show follows Kang Dan-i and Cha Eun-ho, childhood friends that have always been supportive of each other and have remained close into adulthood. At the start, Dan-i’s getting married to Dong-min, only to run away from her own wedding and hide in Eun-ho’s car. He ends up talking her back to her wedding and she goes through with it. Years later, Dan-i’s divorced from Dong-min and homeless. She’s pretending to be Eun-ho’s housekeeper and eats and showers in his house while he’s at work, and cleaning the place in exchange for money meant for a housekeeper she supposedly hired for him.
Eun-ho quickly figures out ‘the housekeeper’ is using his place and tells Dan-i, who ‘hired’ the pretend housekeeper, to fire her. Dan-i begs him to give ‘the housekeeper’ another chance, and frantically starts looking for a new job. Her daughter’s in the Philippines at school, but her tuition and medical bills have left Dan-i with nothing. Dong-min doesn’t send child support or alimony, so she struggles to get by.
One night, after losing her shoe on the way to a job interview, losing the job interview, and having no place to sleep, Dan-i meets Ji Seo-joon. He actually found her shoes earlier that day and gives them back to her, along with an umbrella. She gives him her onion plant.
Dan-i shows up at Eun-ho’s and asks for a place to sleep. He doesn’t know she’s been divorced for a year or that her husband has left with his mistress. They’re still good friends, but drifted apart after her marriage. Eun-ho clearly hates her ex-husband, too. At first he thinks Dan-i’s making it up, but he soon learns that she’s homeless and divorced. He agrees to let her stay until she can find her own place. Dan-i then finds flyers in his house for a job interview at his book publishing company that requires no degree and she jumps on it. Having not been in the work force for eleven years, no one wants to hire her and she’s desperate for anything to pay her daughter’s hospital bill.
Dan-i ends up impressing the company without Eun-ho’s help and she’s hired as a team support contractor. Her job is basically to help out everyone, clean up, get coffee, file work, run errands. Eun-ho doubts her at first, but Dan-i ends up fitting into the company well. Although one of the colleagues, their director, hates her. When Dan-i starts showing promise in meetings and putting forward ideas, the director sabotages her efforts. I liked that Eun-ho wasn’t kept in the dark about it, but I do wish he’d done more about it. At one point his co-worker/on-again, off-again girlfriend, calls him cold-blooded for not standing up for Dan-i more. On this note, I will say that Song Hae-rin is really great. I didn’t like her at first, but she grew on me quickly.
Over the course of the episodes, Dan-i learns more and more about the book publishing industry. You see the ups and downs, and how very hard it is to get published or become successful even when you actually manage to get your manuscript picked up. The scene at the book binning plant was particularly hard to watch. Dan-i’s reaction was spot on. Like, ouch. There’s also an episode focused around a poet and how hard it is for poetry to circulate. That episode broke my heart.
Dan-i ends up running into Seo-joon in the neighbourhood and they bond over umbrellas, green onions and his dog, whom Dan-i even names. These two are the definition of adorably awkward. Like, you fall in love with Eun-ho and Dan-i in episode one, but Seo-joon is lovely. It’s a wonderful case of Team Everybody, so the episodes are enjoyable no matter who the focus is on.
The members of the company are a colourful bunch. The new hires vary wildly from Dan-i, but the trio quickly become supportive of each other. Although Dan-i faces a lot of setbacks, she gets support from Eun-ho and Hae-rin, and things slowly start to improve.
There are also great conversations about love, divorce, relationships, work, the impact of infidelity, poverty, class, etc. For anyone looking for an upbeat, charming, relatable romantic comedy show, definitely check this one out! I insist ♡