I’m interested in a lot of new books coming out but not every book will end up on the podcast. So…it’s review time! I wanted to try something new in 2021. You know, getting out out of my comfort zone and all.
Plus, I mean…why not? What does it hurt to listen to new stories in a time of masked love.
Note: this review of Love and Lockdown by Alyce Caswell full of spoilers.
(Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an eARC of the book for an honest review.)
Today’s review is a bit of a mashup of opinions. Why? Because I read Love and Lockdown. I picked a lockdown book specifically because we’re not going to be leaving any pandemic measures for awhile. And let’s face it: our life is moved by a disease that doesn’t care about it. Right?
I liked the tropes that Caswell focused on. I’m usually not an enemies-to-lover fan but early lockdown and quarantine times means new rules. Too bad I couldn’t really love this book. See, Colin and Angela are blank canvases. They have banter in their forced proximity but romance is bare. So, so bare. As a reader, I learned nothing about Angela based on her pre-quarantine times. And Colin was a trust fund kid playing around.
All those things are fine at 21. Not 31. There was a definitive lack of maturity, to the point I wondered if the book was intended to be YA but pushed to adult at the last minute. There was no place for me to care about the romance since there was no romance. Not really. Lust, yes, but HEA not so much.
It’s a pity because I really liked the writing style for the most part. And the side characters. Danika kept reminding me of Roses, to be honest. Every time she appeared, I was waiting on a Murder She Wrote video to appear on screen. And Sunshine. I liked the side characters way more. I think they had more depth. Even incel Danger had more to him than Colin.
The hat idea, learning about people, that seemed brilliant. I loved it! But I couldn’t get into how juvenile some of the moments were (pillow fort anyone?) and how they never managed to really scratch beyond the surface. Leo and I both agreed that Colin needed to mature quite a bit.
I wish Colin had. The book would probably kept me interested. The first 45% was actually pretty good. I like the descriptions of lockdown, learning about Newfield (near Dover apparently). I picked the book in part because of the fact it was located in England. A different country going through lockdown? Quite interesting….in theory.
Forced proximity isn’t a favorite trope but it’s one I enjoy. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work. You learn nothing about Angela’s writing, except giving Colin scripts to save a job he doesn’t seem to need or really want. She seems to live inside a romance novel, in her mind, which wasn’t really well done. And Colin is no Mr. Darcy or whoever he was modeled after. (Though I’d prefer him to be more like Chris Evans in What’s Your Number.)
All told, the story really, really doesn’t work as a romance. But I liked the little things, like food delivery. I’m not sure how much a restaurant would offer copper bowls for return pickup, but I genuinely liked the care that went into the community. Loraine and Bernard were great as elder stand-ins for Colin. I have no idea why Ishani was all about friending up Angela, especially at the end, when Angela legit didn’t offer any good friendships.
I think my biggest problem was that Angela never grew in the story. She still wanted Em’s friendship. Never investigated why Ben didn’t let her go home with him, even when parents were not in town, and create a life. She was dull, very paint-by-numbers, without any real deep emotions. Because Caswell never explained why Angela and Colin hated each other, except he was an annoying upstairs neighbor. And I still don’t understand the Santa storyline and why it would have made her like him more.
It all felt so empty. I was doing so well not giving lower marks this month. I’m trying, I promise. And some o the higher marked will be discussed on Deconstructing Damsels YouTube channel. Or IG. Haven’t decided. You tell me where you’d like to talk about some of the #ChallengingDamsels prompts at. Besides the Facebook group.
Within the copy, I noticed a lot of grammar and formatting errors. That’s saying something coming from me. I’m not that attentive for the most part. I also noticed I didn’t necessarily appreciate all the sly bits of romance vernacular, like talking about how they’re living in a forced proximity or enemies to lovers trope. It felt way too gimmicky…then just annoying by the tenth time. Plus, the tropes kept changing. Add in the rushed romance and it just didn’t gel for me.
In short: Love and Lockdown needed more developmental and proofreading edits. A lot of these issues are easily resolvable. Perhaps the book was pushed out too early. I’m not entirely sure. But the editing combined with lack of character development didn’t really at all.
I’m going to break it down by the CAWPILE method, which I explained in the Big Bad Wolf review. Much easier to to help solidify the rankings. I’m adding another level: Romance when needed. So rankings will be divided by 8 instead of 7, but I’m gonna keep the numbers similar to the original idea.
Breakdown tends to show the weakest areas for me. Please note, these all about what works and doesn’t work for me.
- Characters: 2.5/10
- Atmosphere: 4/10
- Writing Style: 3.5/10
- Plot: 3/10
- Intrigue: 2/10
- Logic / Relationships: 2.5/10
- Enjoyment: 2/10
- Romance: 2/10
Total Score: 2.69 (2 stars)
My rating before the standards was a 2.5 out of 5, so the numbers match up fairly well together. The romance category only brought the numbers down by .10, so it’s not that much of a change in ranking. I pulled it down from 2.5 after rereading this critique and the number system. Yet I really enjoyed the pandemic times of lockdown (southern winter storm hoarding times a billion on that toilet paper). Probably because I’m living in Germany and lockdowns come and go in the quarantine times.