Fools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales by Rebecca Podos
Expected Release Date: December 7, 2021
Verdict: I never like short stories, and the love felt rushed, but a lot of folks will adore this collection
Recommended: for some people
If you like short stories, if you can buy into love stories quickly, if you’re a sucker for those “first confession / first kiss” kind of scenes
Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they re-imagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre.
Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.
UGH. I’m so sad I’m starting this off with a groan, but… dang. I always struggle with short stories, but I had hoped this would be different. I live for those moments in books where the characters finally come together and admit how they feel, but this collection just didn’t do it for me. If any of my difficulties below resonate with you, then you might want to dodge this one, but I think a lot of folks will treasure this collection.
Issue #1: since they’re all short stories, they all read as insta-love to me because it happened in the course of 10-15 pages. Even in the tropes that necessitate a history (ex. friends to lovers, second chance) it all felt so rushed! I didn’t really know or care about the characters in most of these because I barely knew them. My pleasure at seeing two people find love was muted by the fact that they still felt like strangers.
Issue #2: if I did like a story, it was over too soon! This is again an issue more inherent to the style itself, since obviously yes short stories are going to be short! With a collection like this, on the stories where I did start to like the scene or setup, it ended, and I’d go into the next story resenting that I had to read something new and not the one I liked. Really a personal issue, but if you’re as petty as me, this might take you out of it as well. 😅 I had hoped that I would get consistent tiny rushes of dopamine from each as I fell in love over and over again with the characters, but alas… a lot of it fell flat for me. The fall was that much harder when it came after one that I had enjoyed.
Maybe issue #3: it’s truly YA, with all teen characters and chaste scenes. I think this is expected going into a young adult collection, but in case you’re wondering, this is not at all explicit. A lot of the stories don’t even end with a kiss, and more of a promise of the chance of something new.
Maybe issue #4: I hope you like tropes! Since this is a varied collection of stories based entirely on different love tropes, you’d better like the tropes. If familiar story lines are going to bore you, then this is obviously not for you! I found most of the ideas of the tropes to be ones I liked, and only had one that I skipped entirely (time-travel love, a la the one with the letters mailed across time). That one was astonishingly long, which I noticed as I quickly flipped through pages looking for the next story. Prepare to commit for that one — either to reading, or to page-flipping! This is also THE MAIN DRAW OF THE BOOK! So if you’re not sure if you’ll like that, why are you even here? xD You can safely skip this one and try something else. Maybe check out All Signs Point to Yes instead (YA stories of all kinds of love, based on Zodiac signs).
Not an issue #5: practice writing these tropes yourself! I think this collection would be excellent for anyone teaching writing particularly in high school, or anyone working on their own skills in writing romance and love. Each story is categorized by the trope theme it follows, and it could lead to some fun activities in classes.
My list got kind of weirdly structured by the end, and any of these items could be a pro or con based on who you are. This was a tough one to rate, but ultimately the rating (“it was ok…”) reflects my own experience and not whether I think it’s a good book or if others will like it. I think a LOT of folks will embrace this one! But if you’re like me and struggle with short stories and insta-love, you might also want to skip it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Perseus Books for a free advanced copy! This is my honest review.