Review: No Love Allowed (Dodge Cove #1) by Kate Evangelista10:00
Series: Dodge Cove #1
Author: Kate Evangelista
Published April 19th 2016 by Swoon Reads
It's all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.
Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!
You'll probably have guessed by now, that contemporary books are some of my most loved, with fantasy being the only other genre I read as much. The whole fake boy/girl-friend trope is one of the best used in YA contemporaries, and I can't get enough of these types of books. When I first heard about No Love Allowed, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the book.
No Love Allowed is about Caleb and Didi, who are enjoying their summer after senior year. Caleb is a bit of a man whore, and has burnt through all the girls he knows, including the daughter of one of his father's most important clients. As punishment, Caleb's father makes him intern at this law firm over the summer, and if he messes up anything, he can kiss his gap year in Europe goodbye, and will be on his way to Yale before he even knows it. To make life more easier, especially with the amount of company parties he's expected to attend, he needs to find a fake girlfriend, and turns to someone unexpected - Didi, the ex-waitress at his club, who witnessed his disastrous break up attempt. Didi, who has no plans for summer, especially now that she has no job, and really needs the money, decides 'what the hell', and agrees to act as Caleb's fake girlfriend. Both agree not to fall in love, after all, it's just for the summer, but as you can expect, this isn't the case.
I really enjoyed both main characters. Caleb, though from a rich and privileged family, wasn't the happiest. His father basically ignores him, and if it wasn't for his cousins, Nathan and Natasha, he would have had a truly awful childhood. He can't wait to leave Dodge Cove and that whole life behind when he's in Europe, but knowing his father could mess up all the plans makes him take a step back and re-evaluate his life. I felt like his character really grew during the course of the book, and I like to think that will continue in the companion book.
Didi took a bit to get used to. I normally avoid books that have to do with mental health, especially after reading another book recently with a bipolar character and really disliking it. However, in No Love Allowed, I felt like the mental health aspect was dealt with really well - I'm no expert or anything, so I might be wrong. We saw the ups and downs that Didi faced by being bipolar, and how it not only affects the life of the person with the condition, but also the lives of their loved ones, especially Didi's mother. I loved her mam, who was working so many jobs to help cover the costs of her medication, and wanted to protect her, but understood that Didi had her own life, and couldn't be wrapped in cotton wool.
The secondary characters of Nathan and Natasha were wonderful. They were there for both Didi and Caleb, and honestly made the story a whole lot better. I'm really looking forward to the companion book, No Holding Back, which is about Nathan.
The romantic aspect, whilst a big part of the story, wasn't the only plot. The relationship of Didi and Caleb's was very swoony - it lived up to the publisher's name - and it felt real, not forced at all. Both character's gradually fell for one another, but they also respected their budding friendship. By being friends before they allowed their feelings to come into play, they really understood each other more, and I think that's what made it seem like a proper relationship, and not one that's been forced just for the plot.
I enjoyed this book a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA contemporaries, especially those with the fake relationship trope. I haven't read anything by Evangelista before, but I enjoyed her writing style, can't wait to see more.