Review: The Look of Love by Bella Andre

18th June 2013


ร‚ย *I received this unsolicited from Harlequin Mira.

So by now, I think we all know about my hesitation when it comes to romance novels. But when the temps get warmer, and I’ve graded essays and had to email people about plagiarism, I typically want some light fare in terms of my reading.

This book came unsolicited in all its pink and lush scenic glory, and it was perfect timing. But as is typical, I had mixed reactions to this book. In the words of my best friend, “I think you think too hard when you read romance.” Guilty as charged.

What It’s About: Chloe Peterson has left a bad (and possibly abusive) relationship when she finds herself on the side of the road in a wrecked car. Chase Sullivan is a professional photographer with his pick of women, and he hasn’t yet tired of the selection. When he comes across Chloe on the side of the road, however, something tells him this one’s different.

What Irked Me: First of all, can we just talk about the name Chase Sullivan. It’s soooo romance novel-y. Or soap opera. Chase. Sloan. Slade. These names, I swear. But that’s superficial. So Chase is pretty sure that Chloe has been abused, and recently. Does this stop him from making a move pretty much as soon as they meet? No. Also, I’m not quite sure why Chase gets so aroused as Chloe tells him about her black eye, even as he’s boiling mad about it. It’s just…weird. On top of that, Chase’s brothers and sisters (because this is book one in the Sullivan series, and there are a LOT of Sullivans) are – I’m not making this up – a famous Hollywood actor, a professional baseball player, a race car driver, and a Napa winemaker. Of course, you also have the lowly choreographer, librarian, and firefighter. I kid. Those are some damn good genes, if you ask me.

What I Liked: This is one sexy book. When I could forget long enough about how absolutely horrifying it is that Chase wouldn’t even bother to hide his arousal from a woman he knows has been abused or that he enters the bathroom she’s in without even knocking, I figured out the reason Bella Andre is such a success story. Her writing is super steamy and full of the sexytimes.

Plus, even as boneheaded (forgive the pun) as Chase is in the beginning when he meets Chloe, he’s super sensitive and accommodating, giving her time to tell him what has happened and what she needs instead of forcing her to explain herself. And after finding out who has harmed Chloe, he doesn’t charge ahead without waiting to hear what she wants to do, and this is ultimately what saved this romance for me. I’d also say that if there had been a bit more awareness on Chase’s part as to his behavior, his actions in the beginning wouldn’t have bothered me so much.

Is the bff right? Maybe. Romance novels set themselves up to be criticized. Sexual politics are so complicated that any novel that has sex in it is bound to make missteps. Do I wish I could turn off that part of my brain? No. Does it inhibit my enjoyment of a romance novel? Maybe, but I still enjoyed The Look of Love. I’d even consider reading more about the genetically unbelievable Sullivans.

I guess ultimately, breaking down a book like this helps me justify why I like it but also may clue you in as to whether or not the aspects that caused me pause would make or break the book for you. What do you think?

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

  • Heather

    I can’t do romance novels–I can’t take them seriously for even two seconds. More power to those of you who can.

    • Jenn

      Haha! Summertime reading is all about mysteries, thrillers, romance, and chick lit for me. I get a bit of a mental break, and it’s nice. But then when I read something like this, I’m right back into critical mode.

  • Charlie

    Arousal whilst hearing about a black eye; I suppose I get it, so to speak, she’s pretty, but when the book is a romance… I expect I’d feel the same way you do about it. I like Shannon Stacey’s work, her Kowalski brothers series – though most of them are rich too (I try to forget that part!) – but then it’s incredibly family-orientated, the romance itself I’m not bothered about so much.

    • Jenn

      I’ll have to check her out. I do like reading them, especially in the summer, but unfortunately, they also tend to make me crazy.

  • Athira / Aths

    Haha! That’s exactly how I feel when I read anything revolving around romance. I wish I could say that I am the most accommodating reader in the world, but romance books just poke the wrong side of my brain.

    • Jenn

      I’ve read good romance novels from time to time, and I think part of why I read them every once in a while is to try to find “the one” – one where these sorts of issues don’t immediately jump out at me.

  • Melissa

    Huh, these points are exactly why I have trouble with straight romances…I like something else to be the focus even if there is a healthy side dish of romance. That said…I have this book on my shelf as well and will probably pick it up at some point this summer when looking for a light read!

    • Jenn

      Agreed. That’s why I’m typically more a fan of women’s fiction with romance. I always think of the Bechdel test and apply it. If it passes, I’ll generally like it.

  • Tasha B. (heidenkind)

    I recently tried this audio. I think we must have been reading it at the same time, actually! I DNF’d it. You are sooooo right about how ridiculous and cheesy and predictable it is and all romance novels are NOT like that. I rolled my eyes so many times I gave myself a migraine. I also thought it was hilarious that having 2 sisters gives Chase magical insight into the feminine mind. *snort* Whatever.

    • Jenn

      No, they aren’t! But dang if it isn’t hard to find them. I actually couldn’t believe I finished, but I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to finishing books. Your comments always crack me up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Nishita

    I think I am like you when it comes to romances. I think I find it difficult to put my brain aside when it comes to the cheesy bits. I may not read the book but reading your review was fun ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Jenn

      Haha! Well thanks for that. Nice to know I can amuse sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚