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I am so excited to finally be sharing with you my spoiler free review of 40-Love by Olivia Dade, one of my favourite reads of the year so far! This book popped up on Twitter a couple of months ago after some fanart was posted and I knew I needed to read it.
All I knew going in was that it was a summer romance with fat rep and an age gap where the woman was older. That was more than enough for me and I am so glad I picked it up. Let’s hop right into my review of 40-Love!
Publisher: Hussies & Harpies Press
Genre: Adult romance
Length: 320 pages
Source: Bought Ebook
Affiliate Links: Book Depository
Spice Rating: 🌶🌶🌶⚰️
When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.
Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.
But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.
In a few words:
A steamy age gap romance with fat rep, the least problematic love interest and a happy every after
When I picked up 40-Love, I was in the mood for a feel good and fun smutty romance. What I didn’t expect to find was a new favourite read of 2020, a love interest I’m still not able to stop thinking about months later, and representation that made me feel SEEN.
I loved how quickly we got into the story. The book opens with Tess in the ocean, who experiences a wardrobe malfunction and tries to figure out a way she can get back to shore without flashing herself to her fellow holidaymakers, concerned about how the accident might tarnish her reputation as an assistant principal. Enter Lucas, a handsome and attractive “bro”, as Tess sees him at first, who swiftly comes to her rescue.
I immediately fell in love with the two characters, as individuals and as a couple. The banter and chemistry between the two of them from the beginning was electric and this was especially clear due to the story being told in dual perspective. I was so happy that we got to dive right into their story… no pun intended!
Olivia introduced us to the characters, their personalities and pasts in a way that didn’t slow down the story or come across as info-dumpy; we got to know them as the story developed which felt organic and seamless.
As a plus size young woman who has started to come to terms with her body over the years, it was so refreshing to read a book where yes, the main character was fat but it wasn’t the main plot. Tess acknowledges how people perceive her and that yes, she does struggle with some things because of it. But that was… it. It was “yes I am fat, that’s that, and I’m not mad about it.” Everyone has different struggles and I’m not disputing or belittling that, but this particular fat rep just made me feel seen.
“That said, even if I’d been your man for eighty years, I wouldn’t lecture you. You’re in charge of your own body, not me.”
Lucas is the kind of love interest we need more of in romance. He’s attractive (tall with green eyes, hello!), charming and cheeky, and sure he could be a little angsty and grumpy. But more importantly, he was attentive, considerate and HE BLUSHES. An ex-professional tennis player with injuries and a past of loneliness, he was more complex than initially made out to be. He encouraged Tess and championed her, never once thinking that “he knew best” or acting as though he were better or more accomplished.
It also worked the other way around too. Tess never belittled Lucas for being younger than her. Yes, there is some angst between the two as they work to overcome the difference in age and prospects for the future, but these things are handled so well with care. No miscommunication as a plot device here pals! I really enjoyed the tension between them as they explored their mutual attraction; the banter and teasing were everything.
“I’m not simply drifting passively in your wake, Tess. I want to be your partner. In every sense of the word.”
40-Love was also laugh out loud hilarious. My personal favourite scene had to be where Tess decides to distract Lucas as they play tennis, and well, she succeeds. Aaaaaand he subsequently gets hit in the face by a tennis ball. Reader, I was HOWLING.
Something I just had to mention was also how period positive this book is. The guy goes and buys freaking microwave slippers for Tess’s cramps because he couldn’t find a hot water bottle and stocks up on chocolate! They had frank conversations about periods and it was just so matter of fact and not a big deal of all. WE WANT MORE OF NORMALISING PERIODS PLS.
Yes it was sweet and funny and fluffy but wow… the smut was gooooood *chef’s kiss*. It was super sex positive, as the couple discussed their expectations of each other and how they felt before anything happens which I found so refreshing, making sure to take care of each other’s injuries.
“I like you flirty and I like you shy. You’re thoughtful and funny and smart and gentle. I trust that you wouldn’t deliberately hurt me. So I don’t have any more doubts about whether I want to spend the night with you, or whether one will be enough. I do, and it wont.”
Funnily enough, I’m not the sportiest person. I literally never anticipated that tennis could be sexy but wow, Olivia’s writing (aka. LUCAS) had me wanting to limber up and chuck on a white sports skirt.
Not only was this hella romantic and hot, there was also a lot of deeper meaning and substance to the book. The couple talk about their careers, their futures and their passions. Tess is working on initiatives to improve the school, as she sees the discrimination towards her students of colour and she says it “it’s not right, and I won’t allow it to keep happening.” Lucas wants to coordinate a foundation that helps under privileged children get into sports and help fund free school meals. I really enjoyed seeing this side to the pair and it made me love them all the more.
“I want to be at your side for all of it. Every sunset, every low tide, every day of your life, as long as I’m alive and breathing on this earth.”
As I think you can see, I loved this book. It had everything I look for in a romance and Olivia Dade became a new favourite author of mine in one book alone. It was hot, it was heartfelt and it was hilarious. There was no power imbalance despite the age gap, the two really did work as a team. Their strengths complimented each other and there was enough care and love between them to help when it was needed. I couldn’t put it down and I’ve even been pushing it onto my friends too.
There we have my spoiler free review of 40-Love by Olivia Dade. A little longer than I initially planned out, but once I got writing I couldn’t stop!
If you like the sound of that, you may fancy these!
Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
A standalone romance with explicit scenes, forbidden love and an age gap, where Jordan falls for her ex-boyfriend’s father.
It’s a little less wholesome than 40-Love, but still full of love, heat and tension.
Teach Me by Olivia Dade
The first book in the There’s Something About Marysburg series by Olivia Dade, Teach Me is a kiiiind of enemies to lovers between two history teachers (not really but you’ll see what I mean!) again with amazing fat rep and a super hot relationship.
Content warnings for abuse, poverty, classism and sexism.