I have been so busy at work, but am coming at you with a late night review of yet another one of Taylor Jenkins Reid romantic dramas! If you want to read about a love triangle at much higher stakes, this book is for you.
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My Rating: 3.75 / Stars
Genre: contemporary romance
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
I had predicated my life on the idea that I wanted to see everywhere extraordinary, but I’d come to realize that extraordinary is everywhere.Taylor Jenkins Reid, One True Loves
I definitely have very mixed feelings about this book. Given the 3.75 stars rating, this is by no means a bad novel, but I think I’m comparing it to some of TJR’s other works. On the one hand, there were the usual fantastic elements of writing that really engrossed me in the story, but I was also a little bit weirded out by Emma’s decisions and how things conveniently ended.
Okay, so let’s first talk about the premise of this novel – which basically is an expanded and more elaborate love triangle, my least favorite romance trope. It’s similar to other love triangles in that Emma needs to make a decision between two different love interests. It’s different in the sense that this story feels like it’s operating at much higher stakes as a result of a very complicated situation, like your-alleged-dead-husband-coming-back-to-life complicated. To a degree, I can almost see Emma ending up with either Jesse or Sam – so it’s definitely not like a Team Edward or Team Jacob situation.
An element of the story that I personally really enjoyed was the skip in the timeline. Even though the conflict occurred in the present day, we got to see how Emma met Jesse and how fell in love and decided to pursue a life of adventure. Then, we get to see the transformation when Jesse was declared “dead” and how Emma remade herself with her family and Sam in the coming years. I think these were actually my favorites parts of the book just because I liked reading about two completely different but wonderfully blissful romantic experiences.
Throughout it all, I think TJR did a wonderful job of emotionally connecting me with Emma. Reading the synopsis, you don’t think about the awkward moments of talking to your in-laws that you haven’t kept in touch with over the years. And I could almost feel the struggle Emma was going through trying to make a life-changing decision of whether to stay loyal to her marriage or to the man that she had already decided to move on with in her life.
Although it was supposed to be a big decision for Emma, I was honestly rooting for Sam from the beginning. I think we were provided a couple of flashbacks that looked into Emma and Jesse’s relationship when they were younger, and throughout the entire time, I was thinking about how cute Sam was to ask her out even though she had a big crush on Jesse at the time. So I guess the weird part of the story for me was when Emma and Jesse went up to their family cabin to spend the weekend together. I mean, I still think it’s a great part of the story because it ultimately highlighted how they had grown apart since their separation. But part of me almost felt like she was cheating on Sam and that made me really uncomfortable throughout some of the more explicit scenes – even though I think the plot was still important for character development.
*end of spoilers*
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was a pretty fast and engaging read. There were times when the story was a little awkward for me, so I don’t think of this as TJR’s best work. If you have read this book, please let me know what you think!