ROMANCE

Love at First Set

Avon May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780063307483. pap. $18.99. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE
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Hearing a woman sobbing about her boyfriend in the bathroom, Lizzie gives her a supportive pep talk and convinces her it’s okay to break off a relationship that’s causing her pain. They share a nice moment of solidarity—only for Lizzie to quickly discover that the woman, Cara, is her bosses’ daughter and the bride at the wedding they had all gathered to attend. What follows is a mix of subterfuge and self-discovery as Cara tries to sort out her post-breakup life, and Lizzie tries to keep the origins of their friendship secret from her bosses. Then a burgeoning romance between Lizzie and Cara brings together two women who each need a change—both romantically and professionally—from their initial early-adulthood choices, a theme that is often present in romance but is explored more deeply and directly here. The plot is propelled more than once by characters making rash decisions while drunk, which feels underexplored in connection with Lizzie’s difficult relationship with her mother, who’s addicted to alcohol.
VERDICT This adult debut from YA novelist Dugan (Melt with You) has a strong mix of humor and emotional depth; book clubs will likely find a lot to discuss.
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