As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and the quirky, tension-filled The Love Interest is definitely a part of that list! I can rely on Kayley Loring for light and sexy romances with compelling characters and love stories that are one-of-a-kind. The Love Interest is a great example of that – there are so many lighthearted moments and tons of playful humor mixed with a forbidden romance that’s full of sexual tension and longing. It’s funny and angsty (and SEXY) at the same time, which just showcases Loring’s writing skill. And her style is so unique, with a voice that’s fresh and interesting, offbeat but authentic. She writes banter like no one else, and this couple’s meet cute was pure swoony goodness. It’s rare that I rate any of Loring’s books as anything less than 5 stars, so I’m certainly looking forward to more in 2022!
Read on for my original review and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
Another wholly unique, chemistry-filled, SWOONY love story from this author! This couple’s meet cute was just a little bit magical, and that bantery goodness kept the magic alive throughout the book. Their relationship has a little of everything, from grumpy/sunshine to student/professor to optimist/realist. I loved the opposites attract vibe, and I absolutely adored this couple together. It’s apparent from their first interaction that Emmett and Fiona are PERFECT for one another – even if their journey to happily ever after is a rocky one. The sexual tension was INTENSE at times, but the sexy, swoony moments made it all worth it. I can always count on this author for storylines that feel distinctly different than the norm, and this is another great one.
The story follows Fiona (25), an aspiring author who came to New York City to go to grad school and pursue her dream. On a night when she’s feeling particularly alone, Fiona meets a sexy stranger. It’s clear from the start that Emmett (35) is moody, broody, and too handsome for his own good, but that only makes Fiona want to get to know him better. They spend one magical evening together and both hope that it will lead to something more, but their budding relationship is sidelined by an unexpected issue. It turns out that Emmett is actually the author who will be teaching Fiona’s writing class this semester, and there’s no way they can be together without tanking his teaching career before it even gets started.
Part of me wants to call this a slow burn to SIZZLE romance, because WOW does this get smokin’ towards the end. But the sexual tension is palpable from the start, and the forbidden nature of Emmett and Fiona’s relationship means that their every interaction is tense and filled with the promise of more. The swoony moments, though? Are everything. I loved the tender interactions the most, and the transformation of Emmett from start to finish is so fulfilling. I would’ve liked a few more sweet moments and a few less excerpts from Emmett and Fiona’s novels, but the letter-writing and storytelling are a huge part of what makes this feel so unique. It feels distinctive from the first page – yet completely like the author’s voice – which is one of the things I love most about her books. And if you’re worried about the student/teacher, age gap dynamic – don’t be. Fiona is fiercely independent and her vibrancy is what makes Emmett come alive again. It’s a little sweet, a lot sexy, and has the kind of chemistry that’s combustible.
I hope this letter finds you well—and by well, I mean significantly less infuriated than you were yesterday. I’ve wanted to continue our conversation from the night we met, but there are so many things I can’t say or do, now that I’m your professor.
As an anonymous letter writer, I can give you some idea of what I have planned for us, once the year is over. As an author, I can share my work in progress with you. Not for you to critique but to show you how much you mean to me.
When you’re done reading this page, destroy it—and then write me back. Don’t sign the letter. Don’t put a return address on the envelope. Mail it from a random mailbox.
Yours in problem solving,
P.S. I still think you’re wasting your talent on that historical romance novel.
P.P.S. I really wanted to push you up against the door and kiss your beautiful, angry face. I will. One day.
Your handwriting is almost as terrible as your mood swings, and it would have been my instinct to destroy that letter even if you hadn’t ordered me to.
If you show me your work in progress, I will critique it.
I am currently still too infuriated to write about all the other feelings I have for you.
Expect another letter soon.
Your problem and your solution,
P.S. I still think an overpaid, overrated, overly handsome bestselling author of thrillers has no business teaching creative writing at a prestigious New York university.
P.P.S. To my great horror, I really wanted you to push me up against that door and kiss my angry face too. I understand now that your appalling way of treating me in class has been overcompensation, but I don’t forgive you for it. I’ll kiss you again anyway. One day.
About the Author:
Before writing steamy romantic comedy novels, Kayley Loring got a BFA in creative writing from a Canadian university and had a fifteen-year career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (under a different name). She mostly wrote PG-13 family comedies that studios would pay her lots of money for and then never make into movies. In 2017 she decided to move to the Pacific Northwest and write about all the fun stuff that she wasn’t allowed to write about in those PG-13 scripts. Now she’s breathing cleaner air and writing dirtier words. It’s an adjustment she’s happily getting used to.
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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