I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of One True Loves by Elise Bryant. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In One True Loves, the companion novel to Happily Ever Afters, Lenore hasn’t been very lucky in love so far. And when her casual fling with a boy in high school blows up in a spectacular way at prom, she vows to no longer seek out romance. But when her family goes on a fancy European cruise, her friend Tessa encourages her to try to find a boyfriend, like in all the young adult romcoms. Lenore is skeptical, until she meets a boy, Alex, on the same cruise…
I read Happily Ever Afters a while back and thought it was really sweet, so I was looking forward to Bryant’s sophomore work. And this didn’t disappoint!
Lenore was a side character in the first book, but here is given a lot of wonderful depth and more personality than ever. She’s easy to root for, especially after seeing how her past relationships have been so disappointing, despite her being pretty great—she’s creative, intelligent, and thoughtful. But her flaws and insecurities are what makes her such a compelling character, and what makes her journey so enjoyable to read about. While she’s known as the outgoing, fun extrovert in her friend group, that’s actually a front she puts on, a defense mechanism she uses so she doesn’t have to burden anyone with her less-fun emotions. Seeing her learn to open up and be vulnerable was wonderful.
I also really liked Alex. Since he isn’t a point-of-view character, I don’t think he had quite as much depth, but that’s okay. He’s still charming and well-written, with plenty of personality. I think more could have been done with his development, but what was there was great. I also liked the portrayal of his heritage; him talking about being half-Black and half-Korean giving him “racial imposter syndrome” was not only relatable, but an interesting aspect of how mixed race people can sometimes feel. Again, I think that could have been fleshed out a little more, but that’s okay.
On another note, I enjoyed seeing the different places in Europe that the cruise ship visited! In a time when travel, particularly international travel, isn’t as feasible or safe as it usually is, this was a nice way to see faraway places. Bryant does an admirable job capturing the beauty of many of these places.
In the end, One True Loves is a sweet love story, with excellent main characters and wonderful character development. The settings are vivid, the side characters full of life as well, and the emotions realistic. This reads like a lovely summer romcom, but to read it in the winter makes it really feel like a vacation and an escape. Bryant is such a great writer, and I look forward to seeing how her career continues to grow!
One True Loves is available now!