“He brought out the worst in me, and was the best thing that ever happened to me.” —Coco J. Ginger

When the world is gray or scary (like now with the COVID-19 case numbers rising again in some areas), readers need a love story. Now, not all love stories are perfect, not all romances end with a happily ever after, but there’s something about love that people can’t get enough of. Our latest read transports us to London and Italy to share a story about a bumpy romance between two strangers.

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

The latest love story from the mind behind the popular “Confessions of a Shopaholic” book series takes readers on a whirlwind vacation romance that finds itself landing with a great thud against the restrictions of the real world.

“Love Your Life” by Sophie Kinsella opens up as a fluffy and almost too sweet romance between two strangers on a retreat in Italy. They don’t know anything about each other as the retreat doesn’t allow attendees to share personal information, but Aria and Dutch find that they don’t need to know the other’s real name for sparks to fly. By the end of the retreat the couple are deeply in love even though they know very little about each other. After the retreat the couple is determined to make it work in their real lives, but want to maintain the champagne glow of their vacation bubble ... which of course leads to some hiccups. Now that they know each other as Ava and Matt they discover that they lead VERY different lives and have vastly different personal tastes. The only things they do seem to agree on is their mutual love of ice cream and dogs.

As reality sets in the two try to cling to the easy and light days of their relationship only to find that their lives are determined to pop their happy bubble. Kinsella’s latest protagonist, Ava, is an eccentric and at times overly kooky woman whose optimistic outlook on life is so sunshiney some readers might feel compelled to pull out a pair of sunglasses. Despite Ava’s many eccentricities and bubblegum sweetness, she is a very kind and loyal character that will endear herself to the most cynical of readers. Matt is revealed to be far more tightly wound than his vacation persona would have suggested as he shoulders family burdens and relentless work hours.

When the harsh realities inevitably do pop their bubble, Kinsella shows readers just how far these two characters will go for love and crafts a story that suggests people can find love but might need to put themselves in order to keep it.

From the book jacket…

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities—Ava and Matt—must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette ... are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

If you enjoy…

Readers who love a good love story or just want to escape reality in a light romance might enjoy “One to Watch” by Kate Stayman-London. The story follows a plus-size fashion blogger whose viral wine-fueled rant about the lack of diversity on a reality dating show lands her the star role in a “Bachelorette”-like series.

tinamarie.craven@hearstmediact.com