Review: ‘K Love’ By Devon Atwood & Alice Cornwall

“I just hit the lotto.”

If any phrase could accurately demonstrate how I feel about the collaborative effort between Devon and Cornwall, this would be the one. The beauty of K Love is that you don’t even have to be a k-drama (Korean Drama) fan to understand the story, the culture and the context. If you’re already a fan of these dramas, then be prepared for a special treat.

If you’re looking for a slow-burn, clean romance and an engaging story that weaves two cultures into one, you’ve found your book.

***WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ K LOVE, PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.*** 

To be honest, I was a goner from the dedication page—hook, line, and sinker.

Expectation can do that to you, though. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book for months, so when I had the opportunity to meet Devon and Cornwall at NerdCon, I knew I had to take it. For those of you who follow my blog, I had a blast meeting the authors and learning more behind-the-scenes information that went into writing this book.

I’ve been reading and rereading this book since Saturday (April 29th 2017), so I hope I can do K Love justice as book reviews are not necessarily my strong suit.

~*~

K Love resolves around Chase Bryant, a college student who is not only strong-willed but accident prone. Your cheeks will burn crimson from her many faux paus and you might have to shield your eyes from second-hand embarrassment.

On top of having a medical condition that brings another dimension to her character, she’s also an art student. Things come into focus as we learn that Chase is back in the US after studying abroad in Italy for a while. At her mother’s behest, Chase ends up transferring to Bates University, which is more revered for it’s science program than for the arts. See, her mother works in the admissions department of Bates and scored Chase a discount on the tuition.

Not only has Chase transferred to Bates, but upon her return, she discovers her mother’s new addiction to Korean Dramas (stylized as k-drama in the internet community) that has also extended to her other sister, Jonni. What this means is that her mother is jonesing to set her daughter up with a Korean—just like in the dramas. After deciding to play matchmaker for her youngest daughter, Chase’s life is turned topsy-turvy when her life collides with Koreans Daniel Bak and Hyun Tae Kim.

Love really is the foundation of K Love, but it’s not the only element. There is a nice little mysterious plot line involving stolen research that runs parallel to the love story. This element helps keep the story in gear and constantly moving.

~*~

(Enjoy the gratuitous gif of Hyun Bin from Secret Garden. Tying things back to NerdCon discussions here.)

What I can say is that I wholeheartedly enjoyed every moment while reading K Love. For the k-drama fans like myself, we have the opportunity to experience some familiar tropes integrated into a book format. We’ve got k-pop stars, chaebol (corporate) heirs, and even some Romanized Korean throughout the book (that you might recognize of you already watch dramas or listen to K-pop). There are plenty of scenes that play out just like they would in a k-drama, so the writers have done a good job at merging the feeling of these dramas into a book.

~*~

The writing is smooth and easy to follow. I was actually surprised at how well Devon and Cornwall blended writing styles here because everyone usually has such distinctive styles that it would usually disrupt the flow. Plus, it’s a challenge breaking into a book genre that is neither established nor is it popular yet, but I feel it K-Rom has every chance of being successful. And, for me, it helps to have a strong, satisfying book like K Love to represent the genre.

I have to say, Hyun Tae and Daniel were my favorite parts of this book for so many different reasons. Oh and Joon Suh. I can’t forget him. I hope there may be a story for him after K Pop. (Just putting that out there Devon and Cornwall if you read this.)

Hyun Tae is a cold person per say, but he doesn’t like to wear his heart on his sleeve. This often earns him the martyr title because he internally suffers from not expressing his feelings from the get go. Oh man, the k-drama feels were very strong with him. Deep down, Hyun Tae’s actually a really nice and decent guy. Despite the cold vibes he gives off, he’s often coming to Chase’s rescue.

As for Daniel, I loved his character. I might’ve even felt that dreaded SLS (second lead syndrome) initially, but I quashed that early on by reminding myself that K Pop, the eventual sequel to K Love, is hopefully (fingers crossed!) going to be his story. Because, really, the second male lead deserves happiness as well. It’s a moment we’ve all had while watching a k-drama, so it would be nice to have Daniel as the male lead next time.

Chase’s mom always had me smiling from ear-to-ear. I kind of wish she had been a bigger part of a story because she was so much fun and I would have loved to see her have more time to interact with Hyun Tae while he was getting closer to Chase.

~*~

Fun K-Drama Bit:

“What’s your name?”

“Daniel Bak but I also love K-dramas.”

-Daniel’s introduction to Chase’s mom in the admissions office.

(I imagine it spoken in a suave, playful, charming sort of tone. Oh, Daniel.)

~*~

Negatives: 

There are a few errors and funky formatting in a few places, but it wasn’t enough to detract from my overall feelings about the book. It is something I’d like to see cleaned up in the future, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

WARNING! THE REST OF THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS REGARDING THE STORY AND ENDING. PLEASE DON’T CONTINUE UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY FINISHED READING!

Lingering thoughts and burning questions:

Just like a k-drama, K Love was bound to come to an end at one point or another. And while we had a solid ending that left me happy for Chase and Hyun Tae, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things. Perhaps these are just wish fulfillment, but here are my lingering, burning questions:

Did Hyun Tae’s parents ever approve of Chase after she saved Hyun Tae and the company? By book end, these two are happy in love, living in Korea, and engaged. If you do follow k-dramas, you know that family approval is a huge factor in whether many couples date or not.

How is Chase adjusting to Korea? South Korea is a beautiful place to live, but it’s not necessarily the most accepting when it comes to non-Koreans. While this is a stigma that occurs to a foreigner in any country, I’d really love to know how she’s doing. Is she learning Korean? Does she have Korean friends? Is she having a hard time adjusting to the culture?

Would we ever be able to revisit Chase’s and Hyun Tae’s story? Even if it isn’t novel-length, I think there is more story to tell. Even though these two are together, we spent a love of K Love with these two skirting around their feelings.

Note: I hope you all enjoyed! I will try to work on getting up an Amazon review later. If you’re finished the book, sound off below in the comments and let me know what you think! I got all that I was hoping for and then some, so my critiques were really minor issues. 

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