Comedy · Contemporary · diverse characters · gender identity · lgbtqia content · mental health · queer disneyland

REVIEW: The Love Study by Kris Ripper

The Official Description: What happens when the search for the perfect date goes perfectly wrong?

Don’t miss this charming romantic comedy from critically acclaimed author Kris Ripper.

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Just the facts: Non-binary/Male relationship, great groups of friends, no explicit love scenes

Declan is known for leaving his last boyfriend at the alter… literally. But there’s a lot more to him! Sidney is a youtuber who wants to do a show in which they find dates for Declan. But what if Declan only really wants to spend time with Sidney? – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Declan has a great group of friends despite the fact that they insist on introducing him by saying that he left his last partner at the alter. He did that. He left Mason at the alter… in fact, he had a panic attack and fled the scene of the crime. Now, Declan and Mason have put it behind them… mostly, but it still weighs heavily on Declan’s mind. He’s that guy… the one who broke someone’s heart, the one who couldn’t live up to the romance and wanting to spend his life with someone. He gave up dating.

When one of Declan’s friends invites a new person to a get-together it’s because she wants to set up Declan’s ex. But, Declan is immediately drawn to Sidney. Sidney identifies as non-binary and is a wonderful character. They are creative, quirky, funny, intelligent and a YouTuber! During the course of a conversation, Sidney asks Declan to appear on their youtube channel. They two decide upon a series in which Sidney finds dates for Declan. They will come together to live stream Declan’s reaction to the dates.

One of the most striking things about this novel is the way that the date-ship between Sidney and Declan unfolds throughout the story. They have long and interesting conversations about gender, romance, the way that we try to fit in with other people in spite of what we may want ourselves.

“People making an effort to fit themselves inside a script that doesn’t work for them, and then being unhappy with the result.” – Sidney

The time that Declan and Sidney spend with one another is far more wonderful for Declan than any of the dates he goes on. It takes him a long time to admit that he has feelings regarding Sidney. The thing about Declan is that he’s still bearing the weight of leaving his (now) friend Mason at the alter. He has many questions about it. Does it make him wrong? Is he defective in some way? Will he make the same mistakes again? Will he hurt someone else the way that he is confident he hurt Mason?

There are some great discussions in this novel about relationships and the way that we may try, at times, to fit in with the expectations of others. At times, I wished that there were more actions rather than dialogue but conversations were interesting enough to be engaging most of the time.

It was wonderful to see a non-binary character depicted so well in a novel. Sidney is introduced in such a way that disperses pre-conceived ideas. I even found myself stumbling over my own assumptions while I was reading – and I really enjoyed that! I love books that make me think carefully about what I’m reading.

If you like quirky characters, queer folk, intellectual conversations and a lovely friendship – this is a novel you will enjoy!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Character has panic attacks, anxiety, angst, descriptions of character being left at the later (literally).

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Love Study by Kris Ripper from Carina Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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