When it came time to choose my Book of the Month Club book for this month, one book immediately caught my eye. Maybe it was because I’d seen it around before, or because the cover is so wonderfully spy-thriller-esque (and a little cheesy), but I knew I needed to get my hands on Cale Dietrich’s debut novel, The Love Interest.
(From Goodreads) There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
Yes, this is a book about two boys sent on a mission to seduce a girl, and instead, end up falling for each other. Who can resist that premise, right? I wasn’t expecting to love it, but I was looking for a fun, campy read, and that is exactly what I got.
The Love Interest is a satirical take on some common YA tropes, and I kind of loved that about it. I will admit to occasionally rolling my eyes while reading this book – the corny is dialed way up here – but even with the ultra-drama, the story was fun and engaging. I read it in a single sitting the day it arrived on my doorstep. Which has become a pretty rare occurrence for me. The only part I didn’t like was the ending. Without spoiling anything, I really think the ending would have been more successful (for me) if it hadn’t gotten so serious. Everything leading up to it felt a bit tongue-in-cheek, and there was one scene that just threw me off a bit (I honestly didn’t think it was real until I finished the book – I kept waiting for someone to go “oh, wait, that didn’t actually happen”). I also thought the epilogue felt a bit rushed; it didn’t connect well with the rest of the book.
The characters themselves were pretty great, though. I actually really loved Caden and Dylan. Even though they are literally made into tropes, they turn out to be really interesting, dynamic characters. I enjoyed watching them defy stereotypes. And the romantic scenes between them are some of the best I’ve encountered in YA in a long time. I thought the fact that they fall for each other is brilliant, and definitely made this book for me. The girl they’re competing for, Juliet (I still can’t get over her name), is not the typical damsel in distress. Nope, she’s a badass genius inventor, and I instantly fell in love with her. Can I go back to high school and make grenades in a shed in my backyard? Because that sounds so much better than what I was actually doing back then.
I should also mention that while I would categorize this book as diverse, given that the two main characters are gay (actually, one of them might be bi, I’m not sure that gets clarified), I was a bit disappointed with how little other diversity is in this book. There is one black side character, and while she’s awesome, she’s definitely not the leading lady. Both Dylan and Caden are made-over in the beginning of the book, and I was honestly disappointed when Caden’s new “hot” features are revealed to be blond hair, light blue eyes, and a tan. This book might have earned a lot more respect for me if one of the main characters, especially a love interest, was a person of color. It’s just something I don’t really encounter in YA, and something I think definitely needs to be included more often.
★★★☆☆ – The Love Interest wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was definitely a fun ride, and that’s really all I wanted from this book. There were some cringe-y moments, but I appreciated that this book satirized some typical YA tropes and subverted them by making two of the characters gay. Ultimately, I thought this was a great debut, and I will definitely be paying attention to what Cale Dietrich publishes in the future.
The Love Interest will be in bookstores starting tomorrow – you can get your copy on Amazon now.
You can also get this book by signing up for Book of the Month Club – which is where I got my copy! If you use my link, you can get your first month for just $1, and I get a free book. It’s a win-win! If you sign up now, you can still add The Love Interest to next month’s BOTM box.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Love Interest as one of your two free books!
If you’ve read this book, share your thoughts in the comments below!