Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

17332564Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: Hardcover, 389
Publication: October 1, 2013

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind. 

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I had held off reading for quite a while. (I got the book for Christmas and read it in April if that is any indication.) I honestly didn't know what to expect from it. The reviews had been mixed. They were raving from the people over at Epic Reads, but there were many negative reviews over at Goodreads. But I had to see for myself. This story goes much deeper than I thought it would. How to Love explores the complexity of human relationships and love in a way that draws the reader into the story. However, it took me a while to actually fall head over heels in love with this story.

The story itself was unique. It wasn't the sweet and perfect love story that I had come to expect from most YA contemporary romances. It had dark twists and turns. The POV switches back and forth from before and after Reena has her daughter, and I really enjoyed that. It kept the story lively and entertaining.

The main problems that I had with the book lie in the characters. Reena could be such an annoying main character. It was completely understandable how naive that Reena was in the before chapters. She was young and in love for the first time. First love makes characters do stupid things. However, in the after chapters Reena prides herself on being smarter than when she was with Sawyer for the first time. Whenever he was around, she made such stupid and thoughtless decisions. She reverted back to her pre-baby self, and it was annoying. She had her parents and her prior experience with Sawyer to guide her, yet, at times, she ignored both. Sawyer was a bit of the same way. He was reckless and stupid. But it seemed that whenever he was with his daughter, he became more responsible, which made his character development amazing.

Man, do I love a slow burn romance. It took a while for Reena and Sawyer to get together, but when it happened, it was great. In the before chapters, their relationship was fun and reckless, but in the after chapters, their relationship matured and developed in ways that I didn't think was going to happen. I really enjoyed Sawyer and Reena together.

Slow to like at first, but it pleasantly surprised me

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