Author: Marina Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 20, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Friday, 23 January
The cat funeral.
Yeah, that happened today. I went and participated in—aided and abetted?—a cat funeral.
London life is tough on idealists. In an ideal world, after years of flirtation, Leo would be cosily settled down with Jack, his long-time crush. In an ideal world, Jack wouldn’t now be engaged to a woman. And in an ideal world, Leo would move on.
When handsome new neighbour Alex moves in opposite Leo, an opportunity to do so presents itself. But Alex is working class, poorer than Leo, and probably straight. While Jack’s engagement unravels, and Leo’s friendship with Alex deepens, will Leo manage to find happiness with the right man? Or will he succumb to his enemies: self-doubt, family expectations, and pride?
Told in diary form, this is both the story of a love triangle in London and the chronicle of a man’s struggles to confront his self-image and overcome his insecurity.
Bored with his life – single, almost 30, has a PhD and lectures on post-war history at a university – Leo decides to start keeping a diary, which is not pathetic. Okay, Leo admits his “relationship” with Professor Jack Gordon is a bit pathetic. They’ve shared four years of winks, smiles and “every little moment like that translated into a whole relationship in my head. […] I just thought we were on the same path, were thinking along the same lines, and eventually things would sort of, I don’t know, unfold.” That is, until Jack becomes engaged … to a woman.
Then Alex (the tall and hunky across-the-hall neighbor) and Leo meet cute. That is, if you call Alex holding up Leo while he vomits in their corridor after his drunken night at the pub mourning Jack’s engagement cute. Alex and Leo start dating, progressing from watching so-horrible-they-are-good movies and snogging on the sofa, to Alex sharing the joys of gay sex with bisexual Alex, who is in his first relationship with a man.
“Lovesick” is author Marina Ford’s first novel and has a lot of good things going for it. The plot set-up is engrossing and Leo’s diary is fun, neurotic and interesting as all get-out. There is a cast of interesting secondary characters – Leo’s friend Lucy, his incredibly over-achieving sister Lena and their parents, Amelia and Mark, Sarah – with a nice smattering of their quirks and histories.
However, I think “Lovesick” suffers from only showing Leo’s POV. Alex is a physical trainer and likes bad movies. Other than that, I didn’t really get a good sense of his personality and found his naivete about gay sex unbelievable. “I thought… I thought that it’d be all about anal or something… I didn’t know! I didn’t know we could have sex without—Oh God, that’s a relief! You’re so clever! I would have never thought—is that how gay men have sex? I never knew!”
Also, Leo’s association with Jack Gordon is more a series of near-misses than any type of relationship so to describe Leo, Alex and Jack as a love triangle seems inaccurate. Finally
- Leo is ashamed that Alex is “only” a physical trainer and apologizes over and over to his parents: I blurted, “It doesn’t matter, Mum. It’s just something he does for now.” AND “He won’t be doing this forever,” I said, irritated now with both Alex and my parents. “He used to be in the RAF, for God’s sake. He’s qualified to do much more than just help people lift weights.” AND “It’s just a thing he’s doing for now. Okay? Leave it.” This despite Leo’s parents not making a big deal out of Alex’s career. Then he doubles down: “Well, it’s not exactly a job that gets you anywhere, Alex. Come on… this can’t be news to you!” AND “It’s just not something I thought you wanted to do forever. I mean, that’s ridiculous! It’s a job for a twenty-something while he’s supplementing his student loan, not a thing a grown man should be doing for a career. Seriously, do you want to be doing this forever?”. And of course, Leo triples down: “I wanted him to come to Paris with me. I found a cheap hotel, discount plane tickets etc. I made a real effort to make it affordable for him, so that we could get the hell out of London even for a few days. He said he couldn’t, since he had clients lined up through the dates I’d planned, and he couldn’t let them down. Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like he’s a brain surgeon or anything. Granted, I shouldn’t have said that to him. I apologised, and we’re okay now.”
Sorry to fill up that spoiler with so many excerpts, but I honestly am surprised how utterly clueless Leo is. The story ends with a HFN, but honestly? Alex, you’re too good for Leo, mate. Dump ’em! I’m giving “Lovesick” 3.5 stars because I liked Ford’s writing style and the general feel of the book. I do look forward to reading more by Marina Ford.
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