What’s it like to be the most hated person in America? Nadine Bayani is out of prison after serving two years for orchestrating a campaign finance scam to ensure that her candidate wins the presidential election. When the crime is discovered, she’s convicted, her candidate loses, and the “wrong” person becomes president, Nadine faces the backlash from all sides of the political spectrum. Now she’s left to pick up the pieces of her life. All Nadine can do is focus on the next steps: find a job, find a place to live, survive. It’s a lonely existence, but Nadine believes she only has herself to blame.
Bella Clarke lives in a small town and has worked for 10 years at the same retail store. She knows she can do better but doesn’t have the courage to try. She’s a talented artist and a very kind and loving person, but she doesn’t believe she deserves better out of life. She’s disappointed in herself for being a college drop-out and she can’t understand why she struggles so much with everyday tasks.
When Bella sees Nadine Bayani entering the store, she can’t believe her eyes! Why would a former high-powered lawyer want to work at Overstock Oasis? She finds herself drawn to the woman she knows she’s supposed to hate. Time and again, she feels it necessary to defend the woman and realizes very quickly that she has more than “just friends” feelings for her.
Can Natalie learn to trust Bella and let her know who she truly is? And can Bella find the courage to believe in herself and go for what and who she really wants?
Pros And My Favourite Parts
I love this book because it’s chock full of so many glorious layers! The first layer is the main characters themselves. They couldn’t be any more different. There’s an age-gap. One of the leads, Natalie, is a Filipino immigrant, while Bella is a white woman who lives in the same small town she grew up in. Bella turns out to be neuro divergent with a “not so traditional” curvy figure that she’s insecure about, while Natalie has a short, slim muscular build. If that’s not enough, both women also come from different socio-economic backgrounds. Yet, despite all these differences, they find each other and fall in love.
The diversity of the main characters is such an intrinsic part of the story, and as an immigrant myself, I truly loved how well written into the story this was. I loved how Ivins sprinkled aspects of Filipino culture into the book effortlessly. Ivins’ wife is Filipino, so her descriptions of the Filipino culture, language, and food, reads authentic. I find myself eager to try some of the recipes she describes in the book!
To be clear, it’s not as if Ivins was just checking off diversity boxes for the purpose of making sales, though. She writes an intricate love story which is enhanced by the diversity of the characters, not ruled by it. It’s refreshing to see a book encompass typical life differences rather than “tackle” them. Bella learning that she’s neuro-divergent helps her grow, and acknowledge that she is actually quite smart, but it is definitely not her defining characteristic. She’s also loving, and kind, and loyal to those she loves. The fact that Natalie is a Filipino immigrant may be one of the reasons why she finds herself in the position she’s in, but it’s definitely not the only or even the main reason. That’s what I find so fascinating about this book!
The second layer is the social issues Ivins tackles within the main story line. She describes the struggles of being a felon trying to be re-introduced to society, as well as the issues with the abysmal US health care system.
The third layer deals with political intrigue. The scandal at the center of the book, and the underhanded antics of politicians, made for a juicy storyline to go along with the lovely romance, and that just jacked up the interest level for me tenfold.
Finally, we come to the love story and it’s just so sweet, and just the right amount of steamy. Natalie and Bella find each other when they both needed each other the most. Natalie, when she thinks she’s all out of options, and Bella, when she doesn’t believe she has any options. Watching them fall in love, overcome their emotional blocks and both realize that they are “Worthy of Love” as the title suggests made for a wonderful read.
Cons And Heads Up
This wasn’t a big deal for me, especially now, but if you are still steamed about the 2016 US presidential election and don’t want to relive anything that happened, you may want to stay away from the book, however you will definitely be missing out on a wonderful read if you do.
There was also a very short scene about Bella being sexually assaulted by a man, (he was overly aggressive and there was an unwanted kiss), however, it wasn’t very graphic and it helped bring the two main characters closer together, so it made sense in the book.
I truly enjoyed this book. The diversity, the multiple layers that were effortlessly written, and the political intrigue all worked so well. There’s just the right amount of angst to keep the reader invested. A wonderful read all around, and a great second novel from Ivins! I’m a big fan and can’t wait to see what she writes next!
Excerpt from Worthy of Love by Quinn Ivins
Nadine tapped on the counter. “Excuse me.”
The woman jumped and lifted her head. “Oh my Lord. I’m sorry. I totally spaced. How can I help you?”
Smoky eyeshadow and thick mascara accentuated her golden-brown eyes, and her voice was sugar sweet with a buttery Virginia accent. Aside from her unflattering polo shirt—royal purple with Overstock Oasis embroidered on the lapel—she looked like a stereotypical Southern belle.
Did this girly small-town cashier watch the news? Nadine removed her sunglasses. “I have an interview with the store manager. Grady Sanders.”
The woman nodded, then froze as recognition dawned on her face. She stepped back and bumped into the cash register behind her.
Great. Nadine arched an eyebrow. “Is there a problem?”
“Um…no problem.” Biting her lip, she picked up a telephone next to the register. Metallic-purple fingernails caught the light as she dialed. “It’s Bella. There’s, um, someone here to see you… Yes… Okay.” She hung up. “He’ll just be a minute.”
Bella stared at Nadine, clasping and unclasping her hands as if she didn’t know where to put them. Nadine sighed. “I’ll just wait over there.” She turned away.
“Are you…? Do you mind if I ask you…?”
Christ, were they really going to do this? Nadine faced her.“Look, you obviously recognize me.” She held Bella’s gaze, challenging her to disagree.
Bella nodded meekly.
“That means you have an opinion. Everyone does. But I can assure you, it’s nothing I haven’t heard every day for years. So if you already know who I am, and I already know what you think of me, do we have anything to say to each other?”
Bella blushed. “Oh, I didn’t mean…” She glanced around and seemed to spot something in the distance. “Oh, thank the Lord. I mean, Grady’s coming. He’ll be right with you.”
A slim older man with frizzy gray hair ambled to the front of the store. “Hi there. Are you Nah-dine?” He regarded her with curiosity, but his blue eyes were free of judgment, confirming Nadine’s guess that he had no idea who she was. That’s why I got the interview.
Nadine stepped forward to meet him. “Yes, I’m Nadine.”
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9783963244940
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
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