Book Title: Fools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales
Author: Ashley Herring Blake, Rebecca Podos, et al.
Release Date: December 7th, 2021
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Anthologies, LGBTQ+
My rating: 4/5 Star
Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine 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.
Fools in Love is a wonderful anthology full of rich and fun romance stories from a wide range of genres. While I enjoyed some more than others, almost all of these were really well done, and I’m so glad I was able to read them. It was so fun to see the different types of romantic situations these teens found themselves in. My favorite stories had to be “My Best Friend’s Girl” by Sara Farizan, “Bloom” by Rebecca Barrow, and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Malinda Lo.
Below are my thoughts on each individual story, which I wrote down as I was reading.
Silver and Gold: “Snowed in Together” by Natasha Ngan
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thoughts: From the cover and the description, I was expecting all of the short stories in this anthology to be contemporaries, but I was surprised when this one started out as a fantasy-type story. It wasn’t an unpleasant surprise, however. I found myself quite interested in the world and wondering what the history of it all was. I would’ve loved more detail about the world, but because it was a short story, I think the amount provided was really good. The two protagonists’ relationships was explored quickly but sweetly, and I couldn’t help but want more time with them. Overall, I thought this was a fun take on the snowed in together trope!
Five Stars: “Mistaken Identities” by Amy Spalding
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thoughts: Five Stars was more along the lines of what I was expecting the anthology to be. At first I found the writing style difficult to get into, but with how absolutely wild and crazy the situation was, I soon found myself totally hooked. I feel like I could relate to this one a bit, because as a fellow awkward person, I can totally understand how Krista got into that situation. This was fun and lighthearted and I really enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks: “Kissing Under the Influence” by Rebecca Kim Wells
Thoughts: I think I actually would’ve enjoyed this one better without the romance! I was really engaged with the first 3/4 of the story as they attempted to complete their exam. The world was interesting, and I always love a good magician story, but I didn’t really feel any chemistry between the two leads. I felt the potential was definitely there, but because it was so short, I think it wasn’t developed enough for me to become fully invested. This one was still enjoyable, though!
Edges: “The Grumpy One and the Soft One” by Ashley Herring Blake
Thoughts: this one was cute, but also demonstrated what it can be like when everything in your life is changing and when it feels as if you no longer fit. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the romance, while not public, was already pre-established before the start of this story. I feel like it made it easier for me to get invested in the couple. Overall, it was super cute and enjoyable!
What Makes Us Heroes: “Hero Vs. Villain” by Julian Winters
Thoughts: I really liked this one! I’m a sucker for superhero stories, and even more so if they’re queer, and even though we didn’t actually get to see any superhero action in this, I could still believe the world that was set up. I thought the two protagonists were really sweet. I’m also a huge fan of the hero and villain falling for each other, so this short story pretty much had everything going for it! I think this one might be my favorite so far, but I also really enjoyed Snowed In, so I’m not sure yet.
And: “Love Triangle” by Hannah Moskowitz
Thoughts: my first thought upon seeing that “And” would be featuring a love triangle was somewhere along the lines of, “oh boy, here we go.” Because if there are any tropes I dislike, it is a love triangle. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the direction this story took. My biggest complaint was actually the writing style. Because it was written in second person, I couldn’t connect with the main character, because it felt like it was supposed to be me, but I didn’t relate to them at all. Despite that, I still did enjoy the story. It was different and not what I was expecting. I wish it had been a few pages longer, but I do like where it ended.
My Best Friend’s Girl: “Best Friend’s Girlfriend” by Sara Farizan
Thoughts: another superhero story? Yes, please! This one is easily my favorite of what I’ve read so far. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy superhero stories a lot, and this one showcased several of the things I love about these kinds of stories. While we didn’t get a lot of world building time, the amount that was done was really good. I could easily imagine the superheroes and villains, where they come from, and why they’re still there. Also, I really liked all three main characters. I sympathized for Hal who wanted to try to be a normal dude, but felt loyal to his superhero alias and wanted desperately to protect the city. But at the same time I felt bad for both Alia and Clara who were always left behind when he had to go running off to fight the villains. Alia’s and Clara’s relationship progression was completely believable, and their chemistry was so sweet. This one was so much fun to read!
(Fairy) Like Attracts Like: “Mutual Pining” by Claire Kann
Thoughts: this one was so unique! All of the stories up until this point have been very different from one another, but I felt this one took it a step further. I particularly enjoyed the fairy camp premise. It made me wish there’d been something like that for me when I was younger, because I know I would’ve loved that. The main characters were also incredibly interesting and intriguing, and I wish I’d gotten to know more about them and the world. Overall, this was a great read and I really enjoyed my time with it!
These Strings: “Sibling’s Hot Best Friend” by Lilliam Rivera
Thoughts: I’m not sure why, but I never got fully invested in this one. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I don’t think this particular story was for me. I couldn’t bring myself to feel much for any of the characters, though I could sympathize with Lilli wanting her voice to finally be heard. I think this was an instance of it’s not the book, it’s me.
The Passover Date: “Fake Dating” by Laura Silverman
Thoughts: fake dating is a trope that I will read over and over again. I’m also a fan of the trope of two people being friends, then falling out of touch, only to come back sometime in the future and fall in love. This story had both of these! I thought it was super cute and I really enjoyed the romance between the two main characters. This is one I’d totally love to see expanded into a novel.
Bloom: “Love Transcends Space Time” by Rebecca Barrow
Thoughts: this was a lovely slowburn featuring a really cool concept about travelling through time to be with the one you love. Bloom was longer than some of the others, and I loved it. Even though the two main characters meet only briefly before they have to leave each other again, I immediately felt the connection between the two. It was a wonderful story that I would love to see expanded upon (especially how the world works and what the rules are), or maybe even turned into a movie.
Teed Up: “Oblivious to Lovers” by Gloria Chao
Thoughts: I honestly have no interest in golf, so I’m really impressed that this story managed to get me invested considering all of it surrounded golf. I thought this story did a fantastic job of showing what it’s like to feel pressure to continue doing something, even if you no longer love it, be it from a sense of obligation, wanting to please one’s parents, or what have you. I thought this was really well done, and while I enjoyed the romance, I felt the main focus of the story was more about that pressure and sense of duty that comes with a commitment, and I really appreciated that.
Boys Noise: “Only One Bed at the Inn” by Mason Deaver
Thoughts: I loved to see the trans representation in this one. While we’ve seen all kinds of pairings and couples up until this point, there had yet to be any trans rep, so I was very excited to see that! As for the story, my only real problem with it was that I had a hard time connecting to the writing style, but overall, I thought this one was cute and fun, and I really enjoyed reading it.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun: “Secret Royalty” by Malinda Lo
Thoughts: Two things: I absolutely loved this, and now I want noodles. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun did a fantastic job of creating a world and immersing the reader within such a short amount of time. Not only that, but I was just as interested in the characters and their growing relationship. This one was really well done, and I would love to see a story set in this world.
Disaster: “Second Chance Romance” by Rebecca Podos
Thoughts: this story totally nailed the bleakness that one would certainly feel towards the end of the world. I thought it helped to put into perspective what our choices mean, and how even though we feel like we have all the time left in the world, that’s never the case, because anything can happen (like an asteroid crashing into earth for example). While this one was a bleak, yet hopeful way to end things, I really liked it.
Have you read Fools in Love? If so, what did you think? Do your opinions differ from mine? I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
(3.8 averaged, rounded up to a 4)