LOVE HER OR LOSE HER by Tessa Bailey


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A working-class couple on Long Island fights to save their marriage.

Rosie and Dominic Vega were middle school sweethearts who married right before Dominic deployed with the Army after high school. Ten years later, Rosie realizes she’s tired of working at the department store perfume counter. She decides to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant specializing in the Argentinian cuisine she learned from her beloved mother. Dominic and Rosie’s sex life is as explosive and satisfying as ever, but it also illustrates the holes in the rest of their marriage. Rosie realizes they never talk anymore—she doesn’t know how to talk to him about the restaurant—and she decides their stagnant marriage must change if she’s going to change the rest of her life. Dominic knows that something has been amiss, but his own insecurities have led him to follow his father’s example: He works hard and provides and hopes the rest will work itself out. Rosie asks Dominic to go to marriage therapy, convinced he’ll never agree. Their hippie marriage counselor, along with adding a needed measure of comic relief, helps Dominic and Rosie realize they each played a role in the disintegration of their relationship. The exploration of their marriage is emotionally satisfying, but a subplot involving implausible real estate dealings is hard to believe. It’s worth noting that, although Rosie is biracial, with an African American father and Argentinian mother, and Dominic is from a Puerto Rican family, the most well-developed connection to either of their cultural identities is Rosie's love of Argentinian cuisine. Readers hungry for diversity and inclusivity in their romance deserve more than superficial identity markers like these. However, Bailey (Fix Her Up, 2019, etc.) crafts an emotionally wrenching and compelling story of a marriage and how the spouses' different love languages cause them to miss each other’s signals.

Despite some missteps, this is a powerful story of a marriage in trouble.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-287285-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2020


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