Elena Vega is an influential fashion industry woman, think a way nicer version of Miranda Priestly, who has been out of the dating game for a while. Her best friend Vivian insists that she is going to start setting her up, but Elena has one caveat, a babysitter. Her son Lucas is the most important person in her life and is only three years old. She wants to make sure he’s taken care of while she is trying to find a partner. That’s where Allison Sawyer comes in. The NYU senior loves kids and after meeting Elena is very invested in taking care of Lucas. Popcorn Love is a romantic and touching story full of not only romantic, but familial love, and it shows that opening yourself up can lead to beautiful moments you could never expect.
I had previously read another book KL Hughes wrote for Ylva Publishing and absolutely loved it, The Art of Us, and I had put Popcorn Love on my to read list. Conveniently Ylva had a copy of the exact book I was looking for at ClexaCon this year. Just the description of the book made me smile because not only is this a women love women pairing, but it is also about building your own family. Elena has always had an exceptionally strong bond with her parents and all three of them love her son Lucas completely. Not only does she love her birth family, but her best friend Vivian is also part of this family. While they might tease each other and even sometimes get annoyed at what the other does, they care for each other tremendously. As Elena’s dates begin she finds herself coming home after them to vent to Allison, which is surprising. She has never felt comfortable opening up to other people, but there is something about Allison that makes it so easy. When Vivian sees the two of them together during a chance trip to a museum, she decides that there are definitely sparks and her new goal is to fan them.
Allison has never really had a family. As an orphan she was bounced around in the foster system until college, but as she begins to feel something for Elena she also realizes how much she loves the feeling of belonging. Her romantic feelings for Elena are matched by her platonic love for Lucas. She finds the little boy sweet and wants to make sure he is always safe and taken care of. As Elena and Allison allow themselves to open up to each other and test the waters of a relationship there are bumps in the road, but each time something happens they try to communicate and give themselves the time to grow. The only thing that Elena remains stubborn about is Allison’s favorite snack food, popcorn with Reese’s Pieces. Popcorn Love is a read that you won’t want to put down. I wound up staying up far later than planned and I had to physically put the book out of reach so I wouldn’t finish it in one night.
I love every character in this book, but Allison resonated with me on a couple levels. First, she is a fan of Chuck Palahniuk and is even reading Invisible Monsters early on in the book. I also have eaten her favorite junk food snack and agree it is absolutely delicious. Second, she tries her best to always be confident, but does struggle to maintain this persona as she opens herself up. I sometimes struggle with balancing my desire to be an introvert with my need to be an extrovert in certain situations. In that sense there are two versions of me, the outspoken one and the more reserved one. Much like Allison I sometimes can’t maintain the more outspoken one depending on what is happening around me. Hughes is an exceptionally strong character writer and even more minor characters, Allison’s roommate Macy for example, are given full and rich identities. They not only fit into the plot, but they build up the main characters while also having their own motivations and emotions. No matter your orientation this book is a wonderfully crafted romance that you won’t want to put down. You can find Popcorn Love and more books by KL Hughes on the Ylva Publishing website.