Unorthodox Love

Alcove Pr. Jul. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781639103768. pap. $18.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Penina wants to marry a good Orthodox Jewish man and have a family. Unfortunately, she’s infertile and 29, both of which stand in the way of her dreams, but her deep, joyful commitment to her faith and her family ease her sorrow. To help her sister out of a financial disaster, Penina accepts a proposal from a gay Orthodox Jew who’s willing to pay a lot for Penina to be his fake bride. Meanwhile, Penina’s new boss Sam, a non-practicing secular Jew, is also causing her stress. Sam is grumpy, confusing, insulting, and incredibly handsome; he’s also very opinionated about Penina’s faith and personal life. But the longer Penina spends with Sam, the more she wonders if his perpetual frown is hiding a Prince Charming. Ultimately, while Penina is a likable, fully developed, three-dimensional character who will resonate with readers, Sam is so unlikable that those same readers will wonder what Penina sees in him.
VERDICT Orthodox Jewish protagonists aren’t common in romance, and Shertok (And Along Came Layla) deftly informs readers about Penina’s faith as part of the plot in this chaste, opposites-attract romantic comedy.
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