Tarryn Fisher delivers the unexpected—a love story that is both aching and tender, witty and romantic—but not without lacing the narrative with her singular style that readers have come to love.
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Helena Conway has fallen in love.
But not unprovoked. Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.
It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend. Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.
Until she doesn’t.
“You are supposed to be with me.”
Tarryn Fisher delves into contemporary romance once again, but not without stamping it with her own singular style. F*ck Love is a story of destiny and determination, heartache and love, timing and choices. We see a different side of Tarryn, with more wit, tenderness and effervescence imbued into the narrative, making the novel compulsively readable and enjoyable. There were so many things I loved, everything from her fresh and funny chapter hashtags to the protagonist’s life-centering Harry Potter references (who doesn’t relate to that?!). A portion of the story also takes place in Port Townsend, Washington, and the setting felt very vivid and immersive, giving the story an added sense of connection.
This story felt more plot driven than some of her previous work without losing the feels and character intrigue. In fact, I really loved our protagonist, Helena, who was very much relatable even as she struggled to do the right thing and understand both her sense of self and her emotions.
The novel unravels when in a dream Helena Conway experiences a slice of life that could be… would be… should be? She leaps into a life she never expected, with a man she never imagined, getting an unexpected taste of happiness. The issue is that man is not her boyfriend, but rather, her best friend’s boyfriend. Worse yet, her life is tethered to another man and her best friend Della, seems to think her boyfriend Kit is to propose soon.
“I was just a flat line until he came along. And maybe now I’m hurting. But isn’t that what love is supposed to do? Make you feel, make you brave, make you look at yourself more carefully?”
Helena spins into an emotional frenzy she can’t control, examining her life, her ambitions, her heart. She ends up falling for the man of her dreams, someone who is not hers to love.
“Fuck fear, and fuck Kit, and fuck love. I don’t need any of that muggle shit.”
The plot moves quickly as destiny’s ill-timed plays vexed these star-crossed lovers in a will they/won’t they/should they situation. I couldn’t help but fall for Helena and Kit, for the possibility of Helena and Kit’s happily ever after, but fate continued to throw more complication into the mix.
“We have something, Helena. In another life, it would have been a beautiful something.”
I never know what to expect in Tarryn Fisher’s books and so as I read, I wasn’t sure how the story would close, but I’ll reveal that it certainly concludes with some twists that made my heart ache, all the while pounding with anticipation. Friendships, relationships, choices and chance get thematically explored in a book that is most definitely a love story. F*uck Love expresses another side of Tarryn and I hope we see more of it in the future. This is a book many will love, just I have.
“You are supposed to be with me.”
What words are these? They startle me, and at first I think I’ve heard him wrong. He’s leaning across the table while our significant others are twenty feet away, waiting in line for our food.
“You and me,” he says. “Not us and them.”
I blink at him before I realize he’s making a joke. I laugh and go back to looking at my magazine. Actually, it’s not really a magazine. It’s a math journal, because I’m super cool like that.
“Helena…” I don’t look up right away. I’m afraid to. If I look up and see that he’s not joking, everything will change.
“Helena.” He reaches out and touches my hand. I jump, pull back. My chair makes a horrid scraping sound, and Neil looks over. I pretend that I dropped something and reach under the table. Under the table are our shoes and legs. There is a blue crayon lying at my feet; I pick it up and resurface.
Neil is at the front of the line ordering our food, and my best friend’s boyfriend is waiting for my response, his eyes heavy with burden.
“Are you drunk?” I hiss. “What the fuck?”
“No,” he says. Though he doesn’t look so sure. For the first time, I notice the scruff on his face. The skin around his eyes is sallow. He’s going through something, maybe? Life is being bullshit.
“If this is a joke, you’re making me really uncomfortable,” I tell him. “Della is right there. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I only have ten minutes, Helena.” His eyes move to the blue crayon, which is resting between our hands.
“Ten minutes for what? You’re sweating,” I say. “Did you take something, are you on the crack?” What type of drugs make you sweat like that? Crack? Heroine?
I want Neil and Della to come back. I want everything to go back to normal. I spin around to see where they are.
“Stop saying my name like that.” My voice shakes. I make to stand up, but he grabs the crayon, then my hand.
“I don’t have much time. Let me show you.”
He’s sitting very still, but his eyes remind me of a cornered animal: frightened, panicked, bright. I’ve never seen that look on his face, but since Della’s only been dating him for a few months, it’s a moot point. I don’t really know this guy. He could be a druggie for all I know. He turns my hand over so it’s palm up, and I let him. I don’t know why, but I do.
He places the crayon in my palm and closes my fist around it.
“You have to say it out loud,” he says. “Show me, Kit.”
“Say it, Helena. Please. I’m afraid of what will happen if you don’t.”
Because he looks so afraid, I say it.
“Show me, Kit.” And then, “Should I know what this is?”
“No one should,” he says. And then everything goes black.
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