Love Hacked by Penny Reid
Series: Knitting in the City #3
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Smart Romance
There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn’t been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra–near desperation and maybe a little tipsy–gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.
This is a full-length, 110k word novel and is the third book in the Knitting in the City series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone.
“I tell you, nerds rule the world.”
When we first meet Sandra, she’s on a date with a man who reminds her of a honeydew melon. She’s been going on dates for two years now, and it is always with the same kind of guy. Safe, predictable, khaki-pants wearing men. We quickly learn that she makes all these men cry on their first dates. Not because she is mean, but because her empathetic nature (and the fact she’s a psychiatrist) makes the men feel like they can tell her anything. The men find something familiar about her, and they end up spilling their life stories and heartbreaks to her – and thus end up in tears. You can probably guess that nothing romantic comes from these dates. Sandra therefore has an abundance of platonic, male friends.
For all these dates, she goes to the same Indian restaurant. We are soon made aware of waiter Alex. Tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious. Sandra has a major secretive crush on him.
“Alex the waiter was on my Spank Naughty list in third place, right after Henry Cavill the actor, then Henry Cavill as Superman. He was proof that God existed, and that God loved straight women.”
Sandra writes off anything ever happening between the two of them because 1) he is younger than her and therefore not a good candidate for a longterm relationship, and 2) he gives off a feeling of disdain towards her whenever she is there. Until one date. After her date with melon head comes to an end and he leaves (after succumbing to his feelings and crying), waiter Alex surprises Sandra by sitting at her table with her. They engage in a short conversation where Sandra drunkenly admits that she hasn’t been kissed in three years. One thing leads to another, and Alex then gives her the zingy-ist of zingy kisses, which is the catalyst for their future relationship.
“It was the dress.”
“Yeah – the red dress. I was compelled to act. I had no choice.”
But it is not all smooth sailing. Things get complicated when talk of bitcoins, the NSA, parole officers, and federal prison make their way to the surface. This is not your typical romance. You will actually be smarter after reading this book… more on this in a minute.
Sandra is hilarious. She is also smart, quick-witted, a bit manipulative but caring too. She is extremely self-aware and in tune with her feelings. Probably a side effect of being a psychiatrist. She slips into her psychiatrist mode easily and often. She is extremely supportive of her friends and those she cares about. She isn’t known to ask for help or favors. Her friends are actually surprised, baffled even, when she approaches them for help at one point in the story.
“You had me thinking you were going to ask for an actual favor. I thought it might be the first sign of the apocalypse.”
Alex is complicated. He is also smart, sweet, a little controlling, and thoughtful. There is so much about Alex we do not know. Throughout the book, things are revealed, and it helps bring the puzzle pieces together of his personality and why he is the way he is. He isn’t used to caring or wanting something, like he cares for and wants Sandra. I love that he loses a little of his control when he finds that he has fallen for his lady love. Alex’s character isn’t one of my favorite KITC heroes, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like him. The glimpses we get of him in later books, helps me to like him more too.
“You don’t know love?”
“But you’re so certain that this is it, that what we have – what we’re doing – that this is us in love?”
“Because it’s what love should be.”
One of the things I love most about Penny Reid’s writing is her uncanny ability to make you laugh then immediately smack you with a philosophical knowledge nugget.
“I winked at myself in the mirror, as I was prone to do. “Hey, sexy lady, I’m not drunk, I’m just intoxicated by you.”
“It seemed our society was raising a generation of fractured children, more an accessory to their parents than living, breathing, feeling beings.”
This is why it makes total sense when she says she writes ‘Smart Romance.’ Love Hacked is more than just two people falling in love. I learned about bitcoins (?!?), which I never would have researched on my own if I hadn’t read about it this way first. Yes, there’s a HEA (it is a romance after all), but I actually felt like I was learning something, more than just reading a good story.
“If you support the blockchain then you get a percentage – or you can get a percentage, I should clarify – of each new bitcoin mined. It’s a self-sustaining system. No one needs to run it, no one is ultimately responsible for it, and it’s not tied to any country or government. It’s quite a superb example of a global computing cooperative utopia, actually.”
I still don’t fully understand the whole bitcoin system, but it is nice that Reid thinks her readers are smart and want to know these things. No, wait, I should rephrase that; Reid knows her readers are smart and want to know things like this.
The ending was tied a little too perfectly with a bow; but sometimes one needs a book like that. This book can be read as a standalone, but I highly suggest reading from the beginning of the series.
*This book gets steamy at times.