Title: The Love Square
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Publisher: Harper 360
Publication date: February 9, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Penny has been unlucky in love, until she meets Francesco, but a family emergency tears them apart and now Penny suddenly has three men on her plate.
I loved the idea of a woman unlucky in love suddenly having too many interested men in her life. I was hoping for something fun and maybe humorous alongside a down to Earth female lead. Williams is also the author of Our Stop, so, since I read so many good reviews about it, I thought I couldn’t pass this one up. The Love Square has an interesting premise, but I’m not sure the story and the book description are completely in sync.
Penny is a breast cancer survivor, but it’s left her without the ability to bear her children herself. After her most recent relationship failed, she decides it’s time to get a start on having her own family, with or without a man, and her sister is more than willing to help as her surrogate. But then Penny meets the oh so handsome Francesco.
Just about everything about their relationship is perfect, and what isn’t becomes a work in progress they attack together with gusto. Everything is turning up roses for them, even though it means Penny shelves her desire to have a child. But then the unthinkable happens and Penny must leave London for at least a year to help out at her uncle’s restaurant, tearing apart the new couple.
Months later, Penny has successfully revived her uncle’s faltering restaurant, but is lonely. Until an old (male) classmate pops in. It’s just fun, but she enjoys spending time with him. And then is surprised by her attraction to the wine vendor. And then, to complicate her life further, Francesco comes to visit, only to stay and become the new pastry chef at her uncle’s restaurant. Penny thinks she has time to sort things out, to keep having fun, to live her own life the way she wants. But does she really?
The Love Square was really not what I was expecting. I wanted a book where a woman unlucky in love does something magical that suddenly has three men ready to swoon over her and then details some humorous situations she finds herself in as she juggles them. The Love Square is not that story. Actually, I was quite bothered by most of it and then kind of angry at one of the men at the end of it. The way the book ended, though, was it’s saving grace.
I found the beginning to be quite boring. I had no idea where any of it was going. It was sweet, but not much seemed to be happening, and I could not for the life of me figure out where the three men interested in Penny were going to be coming from and how she was going to reach that point. The middle was a muddled mess of a sexually explorative woman who became wrapped up in men and sex. It was little more than romps between the sheets mixed with a light dose of drama. The end felt a little disjointed, as though it had to happen that way in order to get to the ending the author envisioned. But it made me angry and I hated how Penny responded to it as I felt it was almost completely unfounded. On a positive note, the book does end very sweetly and nicely.
The Love Square felt more like a circular kind of story than anything else. I loved Penny at the beginning. As unlucky in love as she seemed to be, she was really succeeding as chef and owner of a cute little cafe in London and was starting her journey into becoming a mother. I loved that she was so willing to take on responsibility and make her life into what she wanted without having to wait for a guy. As a breast cancer survivor, who was still dealing with the effects of it even though they seemingly vanished halfway through the book, she’s strong and determined, but still has a softer, somewhat unsure of herself side. But I was irritated by her in the middle when she just kept falling into bed with all these men and the exhaustion she suffered from as a cancer survivor was pushed way out of the book. I suppose she seemed a little lost and upset about having to rearrange her life due to family responsibilities and duties, but it was a little annoying and made the whole middle seem really slow and sex-filled.
A Bit Lackluster
I’m just disappointed this was not what I expected based on the book description. Overall, I found it was a bit lackluster and I couldn’t wait for it to hurry up and wrap up. It went from boring to a muddled mess to an end that barely made me feel better about reading it. Not that it was all bad. Penny did have a couple of wonderful friends who made reading it feel worthwhile, and I did like that she was challenged at the end to figure out what she wanted. Overall, though, it felt less like a love square and more about a woman who didn’t want to face, and have to deal with, reality. It was nice, though, that all the missteps she took throughout the story forced her to figure out what to do with her life and what her truth was.
How many cups of tea will you need?
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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper 360 for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.