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One True Loves by Elise Bryant is a charming contemporary about self-discovery. As a fan of any book about travel, I adored the cruise ship setting, and the main character and her doubts about the future are relatable. With earnest discussions about expectations of Black excellence and picturesque descriptions of Europe, this is a great read for those looking for a heartfelt story about travel.Title: One True Loves
Series: Happily Ever Afters #2
Author: Elise Bryant
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: January 4, 2022
Lenore Bennett has always been a force. A star artist and style icon at her high school, she’s a master in the subtle art of not giving a . . . well, you know what. But now that graduation is here, she’s a little less sure.
She’s heading to NYU in the fall with a scarlet U (for “undeclared”) written across her chest. Her parents always remind her that Black kids don’t have the luxury of figuring it out as they go—they have to be 110 percent prepared. But it’s a lot of pressure to be her ancestors’ wildest dreams when Lenore’s not even sure what her dreams are yet.
When her family embarks on a post-graduation Mediterranean cruise, her friend Tessa is sure Lenore’s in for a whirlwind romance. But Lenore knows that doesn’t happen in real life. At least not to girls like her.
Then she meets Alex Lee. After their parents bond over the Cupid Shuffle, she ends up stuck with him for the remainder of the cruise. He’s a hopeless romantic and a golden boy with a ten-year plan. In short, he’s irritating as hell.
But as they get to know each other during the picturesque stops across Europe, he may be able to help her find something else she’s been looking for, even if she doesn’t want to admit it to herself: love.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: One True Loves by Elise Bryant
In her family of geniuses, Lenore feels pressured to have her entire life figured out before she heads off to college in the fall. However, as she doubts her plans of majoring in art history, Lenore’s parents whisk her away on a family cruise through the Mediterranean, after which Lenore is expected to decide on a major. While her best friend is convinced that Lenore will find true love on the cruise, Lenore is not convinced, especially after getting off on the wrong foot with Alex, a fellow passenger. However, as their parents quickly become friends and travel companions, Lenore starts to realize that Alex isn’t so bad, and that he may even be able to help her in her search for her identity.
❀ Relatable Main Character
Lenore is a relatable main character, and I really enjoyed her voice. She is still figuring out what she wants to do after high school, and while she has indicated an interest in art history, she is hesitant to fully commit, as she would rather spend her life creating art than studying it. I especially felt for Lenore as she struggles to live up for her parents’ high expectations for her, and I appreciated the way this ties into discussions about standards for Black excellence. As the book progresses, Lenore starts to figure out who she is, and I enjoyed watching her gain confidence in herself and for the future she wants.
❀ Exciting Setting
As a fan of any book about travel, I found that the travel elements in this book are well executed. The cruise ship setting in particular brings so much excitement to the story, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the different activities on board. Beyond the cruise ship, there are also descriptions of each stop the characters make, from Italy to Greece, and the vivid descriptions made me feel like I was right there alongside them.
❀ Quirky and Heartfelt
One True Loves by Elise Bryant is a quirky and heartfelt story of self-discovery. The main character and the pressures she faces are realistic, and the cruise ship setting makes the story feel even more dreamy. This is a great read for those looking for a sweet romance with a picturesque setting.