Review: Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Love by the Book by Melissa PimentelLove by the Book by Meissa Pimentel
Published by Penguin on February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

A hilarious and refreshingly honest foray into modern dating, Age, Sex, Location is Bridget Jones's Diary for HBO's Girls generation.

An American living in London, Lauren is intelligent, beautiful and loves to party. So why can't she convince a man she isn't after something more serious than scrambled eggs and goodbye in the morning?

Determined to snare some regular male affection, she embarks on a project: each month she will follow the rules of a different dating guide - from refusing to pay the bill to chatting up every man in her path - and will switch seamlessly to the next book at the end of each month. 

Lauren's love life is about to get scientific . . .

When I got a review request for Love by the Book, I couldn’t resist the comparison marketing of Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Girls, despite the unenthused most-liked reviews. Sure, I’ve been tricked by comparison marketing, but this sounded too awesome to pass up. And it was. The comparison marketing was no lie in this case. For those like me who are predominantly reading YA these days, I’d also say it has quite a lot in common with The DUFF. Love by the Book is funny, sex-positive, and delightful.

The title Love by the Book is a bit misleading. Lauren isn’t looking for love when she takes to a new dating guide every month; she’s looking for a casual sex partner. Lauren left a serious relationship when she moved to London from her hometown in Maine, and she’s not looking for another. However, none of the men she finds to sleep with believe that she’s not trying to entrap them into matrimony. Out of a combination of curiosity and why-the-fuck-not, Lauren decides to try a different dating guide every month to see if any of them can get her what she wants.

While I was prepared for this to be completely silly, awkward, and over-the-top, much like Bridget Jones, it’s actually pretty low key. Yes, she gets into some ludicrous scenarios, but it’s not absurd. Though Lauren doesn’t have high expectations for the dating guides, she’s also not close-minded. She approaches the whole thing with a spirit of scientific inquiry. Even when she thinks it’s bullshit, she gives each one her all, refusing to dismiss them out of hand. I think the lack of judgment that she brings to the table from the outset is really refreshing and makes the book work. It’s also cool that she tries a book aimed at a male audience as well.

As expected, there’s a bit of romance in Love by the Book, but that’s really not what the book is about at all. It’s more about dating and finding what’s right for you. There’s so little judgment in this book. When a friend confesses that she’s been getting into BDSM, Lauren doesn’t want to do it herself, but she’s totally supportive. The attitude in Pimentel’s debut novel is very much that anything is fine as long as you’re comfortable with it and it’s making you happy. The attitude is so very healthy, and it’s not the sort of book where all that matters is that she finds a guy at the end.

Lauren, no matter what guide she’s using, manages to remain very much herself. She’s always in control and making her own choices. She doesn’t blame mistakes on others, nor does she allow anything she doesn’t want to happen just because a book says so. It’s also nice that, since she’s not looking for a lasting connection, she’s not too upset when things go awry. Basically, any month in which she finds someone good to have sex with she chalks up as a win.

There’s one month where Lauren goes back to the US to visit family. This adds a lot of depth. Lauren’s family had been quite distant in the book, for reasons you find out shortly before the trip. The non-spoilery version is that there’s stuff she’s not ready to deal with. When her sister’s marriage to Sue hits a rough patch, Lauren hurries home, even though she’s not ready to face the music. I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about the break from the rest of the novel, but it ended up being very emotionally gratifying.

I had only two relatively minor qualms. Though my sophisticated research on Goodreads indicates that the author lived in the US for longer than she’s lived in the UK, Lauren occasionally drops slang that’s very much not American. She might just be blending, but she also sometimes complains about how hard it is to be understood, which I didn’t really see backed up by the text.

The ending is rushed. Though I was totally on board for that ship to set sail at the end, it was half-assed. I do think they’re a good match, but I also don’t know why he was into her to that degree at that point. I’m totally willing to roll with it, though, since they were cute in my headcanon and because I liked the book so much. The romance did, however, feel very tacked onto the end.

Love by the Book was fantastic and took me totally by surprise. I hope to see more contemporary novels like this and Radhika Sanghani’s Virgin, which I read last year.

Favorite Quote:

“You must be more careful, darling. More sensible.”
“I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree if that’s what you’re after.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif just sex

2 responses to “Review: Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel”

  1. Brigid says:

    Oh…you shouldn’t have mentioned the DUFF because now I want to buy this book. This looks fantastically sex positive.
    Brigid recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Science Fiction Books I Can’t Believe I haven’t ReadMy Profile

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