Book Review: This London Love by Clare Lydon

This review was originally published on The Rainbow Hub on September 9th, 2015. I have been given permission to reprint the review here. Enjoy!

Clare Lydon’s This London Love is a spinoff story of a book titled London Calling, featuring Meg, a florist who is trying to get back in the romance game after her mother’s heart attack and a nasty break up of a relationship. To complicate things, she and her former partner still own a house together. On the flip side, Kate is a magazine editor who is coping with family loss, still reeling from the death of her father several years ago, as well as the recent death of her uncle. I personally have not read London Calling, but this story is self-contained, so if you are interested in just this one, you can dive right in.

This story takes the reader through a journey following these two characters as they attempt to rebuild their lives after devastation and find peace within themselves – and joy within each other. The complications of their personal lives provide a framework for the ongoing trials of their romance.

What I loved about this book was how incredibly sweet it was. The reader cares about and roots for the two main characters to get together, and curses every curve ball thrown their way. Meg and Kate feel like real people with real jobs and lives, and that is incredibly compelling in literature, which often sways toward the lives of the rich and glamorous. The romance in itself feels well-paced, and as though it is happening naturally.

However, with all the lovely sweetness of this book come my two main gripes. First, that this book really needed another round or two of copy edits. The tone, mood and perspective were not consistent, and it really took me out of the experience because I wanted to correct issues in structure. While this can be overlooked for a good story, it is a relatively minor issue compared to my second complaint.

This book has issues with cissexism, transphobia, biphobia, sex-shaming and micro-aggressive racism. The author frequently conflates gender and genitals. The only bisexual character in the book has one characteristic: having a new lover every week, which plays into stereotypes about the community. Characters casually remark on and praise not having a lot of sex with different people. There is a throwaway racial joke that really rubbed me the wrong way. These are little comments that add nothing to the plot, yet make it a minefield of triggering content for readers. Books written for the LGBT community need to be inclusive to the whole community, and not toss further marginalized members under the bus.

I really like this book. I think the story is sweet and the characters are likable. I think that this is a well-rounded and well-paced story that would be a real gem if it had another once-over by an editor. Going into this as a reader, I’d warn about the things discussed in the previous paragraph, but knowing those things, this is still a good book that I would recommend to anyone who loves sweet romantic les stories.

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