There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
One of the books I was looking forward to eagerly was this one – The Love Interest. The premise of two spies who were supposed to the rival honeypots, instead falling in love with each other had me excited. As a concept, it is definitely novel and I was excited to see how the story would play out. When I did read through a third of it, though, I was starting to get disappointed. I don’t know if I hyped it in my mind, but it was not the amazing novel I was hoping for.
In the world of the Love Interest, a secret organization above the law keeps and brings up orphan or foster kids as Love Interests, spies whose only mission is to integrate themselves into their assigned targets’s lives and pass on information. Now, this of course makes you suspend belief because it assumes that the person has to be a lifelong partner – like they are expecting them to hang on in relationships in this century! (It is explained away in the ending, but I was not wholly convinced) Caden and Dylan are a Nice and a Bad, respectively, a call out to the trope of the nice guy and the bad boy, often found in YA lit. In fact, the novel subtly and sometimes even overtly pokes fun at YA lit tropes, especially those that are usually found in contemporary fiction.
Anyway, Caden and Dylan start to bond and form a friendship, and before long Caden starts to realize that he is falling for Dylan. Their being rivals for their target, Juliet, and a death sentence for the one who fails, their relationship is of course the opposite of ideal circumstances. It grows and they sneak around, but neither can deny that there is no future for them. It is kind of a YOLO love plot, and it is cute, but you know what would have been better? If we had a Dylan POV as well! And the whole targeting teenagers for lifelong spy partners was on shaky ground. Aged up characters (like maybe college or post-college) would have probably been more apt for this storyline.
Moving onto the world-building, I felt it was very basic and explained away simply as – secret spy organization so secret that even the government does not know. They have all this cool tech and all, and are hiding away these kids in centers all over the world, but nah – NO ONE KNOWS! *sigh* I expected better. Even Juliet and her tech comes across as rudimentary. The girl is a freaking genius, but it is all pushed aside for teenage angst. The science fiction element of the plot felt wasted when Caden had a handler who sometimes could listen to him, but sometimes did not. The whole implant thing itself was barely explained! It is speaking telepathically or reading thoughts? Because it seemed to be both at once!
Overall, I was sort of disappointed in the book. Don’t get me wrong – it was enjoyable, and the writing is pretty good, but it felt like the book tried to be many things and just settled on being a gay romance plot, rather than being a genre fiction with gay characters.