Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: "Love You, Truly" by Susan L. Tuttle

After reading (and loving!) Susan L. Tuttle's At First Glance last year, I knew Tuttle would become one of my "must read" authors. And then to hear that her upcoming novel was set on a reality TV dating show? While I'm no longer a card-carrying member of Bachelor Nation, once upon a time I was obsessed ... and I still love other entertainment based around that concept. So you could say I had high expectations for Love You, Truly ...

Blake Carlton, the camera-shy son of Hollywood’s Darling, dodges the invasive limelight and scripted relationships that so often accompany fame. But when his mother’s popularity declines and she falls into a depression, he offers himself up as the next bachelor on a reality show, hoping to reignite interest in her career while creating a way for them to finally connect.

After her fiancé dumps her for her best friend, aspiring photographer Harlow Tucker is done with romance—until her beloved, disabled sister requests her aid to start a nonprofit. Harlow agrees to do whatever is needed to raise funds, even reluctantly costarring on a dating show with a notorious womanizer who distrusts anyone behind a lens.

As Blake and Harlow navigate the superficiality of a reality show, their preconceived notions of love are challenged. Deciding to trust each other feels like the ultimate risk, but taking that chance could lead to a love truly picture-perfect, worth both of their hearts.

Well, this book certainly lived up to expectations! Not only is it an incredibly fun "behind the scenes of The Bachelor"-type romance, but it's also incredibly deep.

Blake, though seemingly living a charmed life, has a lot of pain from his past—pain that drives his decisions and leads him to believe that both God and true love are myths. As a last-ditch effort to "save" his mother, a fading Hollywood star, Blake proposes a reality TV show.

As the younger sister of a woman with a form of Muscular Dystrophy, Harlow has always felt overlooked ... and guilty for being healthy. Though she dreams of more than life as an ER nurse, her number one priority is her sister Mae. So when Mae signs her up for a new reality dating show starring Blake, Harlow can't help but say yes, even though she despises reality TV.

This book is so much fun! I loved the whole reality show aspect—and I know enough from my Bachelor-watching days to know that the behind-the-scenes manipulation is absolutely authentic! (Hallmark Channel has recently made two movies* based on a Bachelor concept, and, while I enjoyed them, this book feels far more like the real deal than the movies did.) There's romance galore, lots of comedy, and moments that pulled at my emotions.

I always cringe a little when the main romance in a book I'm reading is between a believer and a non-believer because, inevitably, the non-believer will come to Christ, and all will be well. (I'm generalizing, but you know what I mean.) The romance between Blake and Harlow sort of fits into that mold, but there's enough of a twist to it that I believed it, and it didn't make me scoff or roll my eyes (always a good thing!). Also, there's a conflict set up in the very beginning that isn't paid off until the end—and while Blake reacted as I knew he would, the resolution was something I didn't expect. I love when an author can surprise me, as long as it makes sense, and this absolutely worked.

Through Harlow's career struggles, the book also got me thinking about purpose and how that plays out—something I've been considering in my own life. So it certainly was a timely read for me. In both At First Glance and Love You, Truly, Tuttle had me pointing a finger back at myself as I read—I think that's a good thing, to be challenged through fiction.

I definitely recommend this book to all the Bachelor fans out there—and I think that those who aren't fans of the franchise will love this book, too. 5 stars.

Buy the book. (affiliate link)
Read my review of Tuttle's At First Glance (4-1/2 stars).

*The Hallmark Channel movies I mentioned: My One & Only (so cute!) and the just-released Love in Winterland (gotta love Chad Michael Murray!)

Susan L. Tuttle was born and raised in the Mitten State, where she met and married her best friend. A homeschooling mom of three, somewhere along the way she blinked and those three littles aren’t so little anymore. Now she balances their teenage years with directing the women’s ministry at her church and writing new stories. She fully believes that God is the biggest romancer in the world and that he loves each one of us lavishly even in all our imperfections—a belief tried and tested by her own misses at perfection. Never having met a cookie she didn’t like, most days you’ll find her enjoying one for a treat between chauffeuring her kiddos around, attempting housework, contemplating exercise, or coaxing her current characters to talk.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from the author through JustRead Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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