Alena's Reviews > LoveLife

LoveLife by Rachel Spangler
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's review
May 01, 2012

bookshelves: queer, fiction
Read from April 28 to 30, 2012

** spoiler alert ** This was a weird reading experience. I went from annoyed, to placated, to very annoyed, in between really liking parts of the story.

What initially drew me to the novel was the description of the main character as a boi. That sounded like it at least hat the potential to break out of the lesfic mold. That hope didn't come true.

The novel falls into several romace novel cliches that make it boring and predictable. A lot of my annoyance my reading was pre-emptive, knowing how certain things would turn out due to genre constraints. There is instant one-sided love without knowing the other person, there's the sudden ending once they get together. In between there are instances in which you have to suspend disbelief and just carry on without analyzing things too closely. Unfortunately these involve the main conflict of the novel, the fact that the two main characters are part of a life coaching relationship, as in coach and coachee. How that relationship comes to be is the first instance of WTF. Which life coach would take on a client that was tricked into meeting her and then confesses to having a massive crush on her?

However, I found the characters to be really well-developed. The secondary ones as well, mostly. Some were cut short due to the narrative POV that was chosen so that, e.g., the turn of the dramatic conversation between the sisters was a surprise to the reader as well. The POV puzzled me a couple of times. The story flows nicely, it only seems hurried sometimes. They both battle their own demons, but it turns out that the coach actually has a lot more me-problems and Joey turns out to be the stable, secure one. I liked that switch and that it was believable.

The end then made me mad again. It is the traditional romance ending. They get together and boom, over. It bugged me specifically here as the life coach's career is in upheaval due to her relationship with a former client. There is a short discussion with her own mentor about this, but no hints whatsoever how she will resolve that important aspect in her life. Now, of course these things are unimportant when you experience (post) coital bliss, but the novel feels incomplete without having that resolved. I was especially mad because it feels like this would have been a better story if it was not boxed in the romance format. So much more could have been explored, especially since the characters were well-developed and ready to be part of a great novel about the conflicts they experienced.
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