Monday, June 10, 2024

Book Review: A Love Like the Sun

By Allyson Bales

Laniah Thompson is a homebody who craves privacy. Issac Jordan is internet famous and spends his days followed by paparazzi. She runs a small business with her mom in her hometown. He runs an international brand.

And they’ve been best friends since childhood.

When Issac comes home to Providence for the first time in months and discovers Laniah’s dream is slipping out of reach as she and her mom struggle to pay the bills at Wildly Green, their natural hair store, she refuses to take a dime from him. And so, he does what any self-respecting best friend would do: tells the world they’re dating.

Suddenly business is booming, and Laniah agrees to his ridiculous plan to pretend to be lovers for the course of the summer. Just long enough to catch the eye of an investor and get her dream back on track, like she helped him do so many years ago, he reminds her.

Too soon, though, Laniah knows she’s playing with fire, because for as long as they’ve been friends there’s an undeniable pull they’ve never given in to. And as the lines between art and life—real and pretend—blur, it becomes harder and harder to see where friendship ends and something else begins....

Told over the course of three sizzling summer months, A Love Like the Sun is about shared history, those who make us our bravest selves, and love in its many forms. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

This is a situation where you should definitely judge the book by its cover, as this story is just as vibrant and beautiful!

This story opens with probably one of my favorite dedications of all time.

“For anyone who has ever felt hard to love, to the lovers with wide-open hearts and the ones who like to keep theirs close, to anyone who has ever been afraid to ask for what they need, and for myself.  It’s not easy being brave, but I believe in us.”

Wow, that really resonated with me!  I love finding new authors that feel like they could be my closest friend based on the stories they write and the characters they introduce me to.  Riss M. Neilson is officially an auto-buy author for me and I am honestly shocked this was an adult debut!  The story was intriguing, I fell in love with the characters, and loved Neilson’s writing style a lot.

You get to meet Laniah and Issac and while you probably know by now that I am not going to give too much away, know that they have been best friends for years and now they are fake dating.  Laniah needs a little help with her hair care products shop and Issac is a beloved influencer that can bring her some attention.  If you love this trope you are going to be smiling from ear to ear!  I loved their comfortability with one another, their banter, and being a part of their friendship journey.  I love the flashbacks to their childhood and thought that really added layers to their characters.

I loved the world that Neilson created and so many of the secondary characters too.  There is love support, and some harder topics like grief and chronic illness explored in an approachable way.  There is balance in the light and darkness of relationships.  The characters struggle with growth, taking chances, and following their dreams and being along on the journey really had me invested.  This was another book I binged and one that is the perfect beach read. 

If you are a fan of fake dating, flawed but loveable characters, and the perfect balance of tenderness and realness, definitely check this one out!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase A Love Like the Sun here.

More by Riss M. Neilson:
Deep in Providence (YA, fantasy)
I'm Not Supposed to Be in the Dark (YA, paranormal)

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