(review based on an advance reading copy)
I loved this book! The writing flows incredibly well, which I always find especially impressive when two authors collaborated on a work. The characters are relatable, likable, and even have that rare sense of "hey, what's my best friend doing in this book?" I quite literally couldn't put it down.
As implied by the title, LOVE INC focuses on romance. Zahra's separated parents send her to group counseling where she coincidentally discovers that her boyfriend is three timing her with two other girls from the group. (I'm not giving away anything that isn't on the back of the book.) Spurred by this betrayal, the three girls start a morally questionable but hilarious business called Love, Inc. Their mission: provide romance help in whatever form necessary: matchmaking, mediation, surveillance, or, in a special cases, revenge.
Though the book orbits around the theme of romance, each character's life is realistically fleshed out with interests and problems in other areas. The three girls all have estranged parents and you can see how each of their individual circumstances has played a role in their perspectives on romance and life in general. Zahra also struggles with her Muslim ancestry, and blames all her family tension on her mother's desire to reconnect with her culture.
A preoccupation with romance seems to conjure up stereotypes of feminine and naive, but these girls are strong! Their business stems from cynical roots with the belief that all relationships are failing in some manner or other. Rather than simply accept this declaration, they fight against it with the hope that they can help mend people's fragile hearts. I was also surprised and pleased with how firm all of these girls are on wiping their hands of the three timing cheater previously mentioned. So many books cannot resist the drama of bringing an awful relationship back to center focus. Not this one. When the girls say they will not settle for a cheating boyfriend, they mean it! And good for them!
My only issue with this book is that it ended. However, I was thrilled to discover it is the first in a trilogy (though it doesn't read like one), so more is on the way. I will eagerly be anticipating the next book.