Review of ‘If I loved you less’ by Tamsen Parker.

Theo Sullivan is a surfing instructor based in a small island in Hawaii. In her free time she enjoys being the village busybody and matchmaker and eating all things sweet at her friend Kini ʻŌpūnui’s bakery. As Theo is a lesbian, she normally enjoys no-string relationships with visiting tourists but she’d never imagined that the love of her life could be closer than she thought.

This novel is a retelling of ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen. The author mainly writes about m/f and m/m couples with the exception of a couple of f/f books. In the acknowledgements, the author admits that this book was difficult to write and, to be honest, it shows. Even though this book features two main women characters falling in love with each other, I wouldn’t consider it lesfic because most of the attention is focused on heterosexual relationships. Additionally, Theo affirms that she’s a lesbian (or queer as she prefers to call herself) but her attraction to women isn’t completely believable. I couldn’t feel the mains’ chemistry beyond the level of friendship and their romantic involvement is rushed and unconvincing. It doesn’t help that there no intimate scenes either and I’m not sure that they would have worked with that low level of chemistry.

The book is written in third person from the point of view of Theo. To say that Theo is not an easy to like character is an understatement. Most of the time, she comes across as self-centred, opinionated, superficial, immature and manipulative. Kini is the complete opposite and you can only wonder what she sees in the younger woman. There is an age gap between the mains of around 14 years, both characters are believable in their ages and they somehow balance each other. Kudos to the author to tackle an interracial romance in the beautiful setting of Hawaii. However, there are too many out of context Hawaiian words, specially when food is mentioned, which somehow interrupt the reading flow. Additionally, some of the secondary characters are a bit stereotyped and sometimes act strangely for the XXI century. I’m not sure that interpolating Jane Austen’s idiosyncrasy to a modern day lesbian romance worked in this case.

Overall, an unconvincing romance that probably won’t appeal lesfic fans. 2.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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