Verdict: THE LOVE FOOL observes some of love’s messier tendencies, but leans too heavily on tired tropes and stodgy pacing to get there.
Alex has just moved to Rome, and is preoccupied. His temporary PR job and overbearing boss force him to adjust, quickly, to his new city’s customs. But more than the work, it’s love that unsettles him, a past relationship that comes back to haunt him. With his old flame Emily coming to visit, Alex broods over what led them astray and what will transpire during the week-long trip. While newly divorced Emily claims she values his friendship, Alex knows that they have unfinished business to sort out, and it’s only a matter of when.
THE LOVE FOOL walks that very fine line between friendship and romance, often not very finely or consistently. Emily and Alex violate the friendship pretense over and over again as they tour the city between Alex’s chaotic work life. The back-and-forth makes it difficult to understand why they’ve thrust themselves into such sudden, improbable closeness, dragging a relatively simple conversation out over a week. Their history, consisting of a college fling and the occasional email over the years, offers an underwhelming subtext. They and the author also have a habit of naming every single emotion as they experience it, which can feel forced. It’s only towards the end of her visit that Emily and Alex open up to each other and begin showing truer, less traditional feelings. Here, in the latter third, the book builds momentum and observes some of love’s messier tendencies, including Alex and Emily’s shared insecurity.
Petruzziello, as a first-time author, displays a good eye for spotting these kinds of complexities, along with the details of the Roman setting. But he tends to waste his ability on the extraneous. The uneven plotting – including Alex’s run-ins with the Italian paparazzi, his budding romance with a local barista (based off a one-night stand), and the needless inclusion a television show script – makes you wish he would’ve spent more time deepening his protagonist, and his relationship with Emily, rather than trying to keep so many balls in the air at once. Instead, THE LOVE FOOL ends up lacking in both development and focus, dragging the reader along with its characters.
THE LOVE FOOL observes some of love’s messier tendencies, but leans too heavily on tired tropes and stodgy pacing to get there.
~Evan Klonsky for IndieReader