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Let's Talk About Love Claire Kann

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Alice is about to ace this whole dating thing.

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Full Description

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice told her she's asexual). Alice is done with dating—no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Excerpt

“Who the hell is Takumi?” She folded the post-it note in half before tossing it the trash.

She felt that itch between her shoulder blades when someone stared too long. She tried to take a sly peek to see who it was and… Jesus.

(Sweet God in heaven, have mercy on her soul.)

Her Cutie Code™ blasted straight past the red zone. If it were a pressure gauge, the glass would have cracked right down the middle.

He was gorgeous—and that was not a word Alice threw around lightly. Not just “Hi, I’m the new boy next door” gorgeous, but the kind of gorgeous that would make you slap your mama. The kind of gorgeous you’d stab your best friend of twenty years in the back for, set her house on fire, and drive off into the sunset with her husband gorgeous.

As if she’d actually do any of those things.

She always laughed at characters who lost every last drop of their common sense on TV and in movies when someone too attractive for words crossed their path. If this guy was on a show, he’d be considered the kind of gorgeous that would cause mid-season plot twists and act two spinouts, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat because their beloved characters were goners after looking into those dark brown eyes.

And he stared at her.

Something flipped a switch inside of Alice. Her internal body temperature had been reset to hellfire. She had to grip the side of the copy machine to keep herself upright. Cara could probably hear her struggling to drag air into her lungs.

(Too much cute.)

(A veritable cutie-induced overload.)

What was this? This had never happened to her before. There was a place for cute and every cute in its place. Whoever that was hadn’t just exceeded her scale. He had broken it.

Cutie Code™: Black—the Next Generation.

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Purchase Info

Hardcover: $16.99
ISBN 9781250136121

E-book: $9.99
ISBN 9781250138828

Praise

From our Swoon Readers:

“A sweet and beautiful journey about self-discovery and identity!... A lovely book with very likable and diverse characters. Cutie Code: Cutest” —Macy Filia

“I enjoy the character of Alice and love how different this story is from other novels as the main character is Asexual. There aren't many novels that have asexual characters and it's something people need more of.” —Alice

“This is a fantastic story!... I've never read a story quite like this one.” —The Kindred Reader

“I need this published and I need it now. I want this on my shelf where I can admire it every day.” —Kiara

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161 comments on "Let's Talk About Love"

kbg127 on Nov. 19, 2016, 11:02 a.m. said:

kbg127


It was good plot wise, but it didn't really have an accurate representation of asexuality.

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T. on Oct. 23, 2016, 12:06 a.m. said:

T.


I ended up having pretty major problems with this book. Basically, I think Takumi treats Alice badly throughout the story, and is allowed to get away with it because he’s the love interest/Alice likes him. First, when he’s flirting with her after he’s just started work, he definitely crosses the line into sexual harassment (like when he asks “Want to know what I would do with you? To you?” and gets in her personal space). And his excuse that he was just trying to get along with Alice like everyone else does isn’t good enough. That’s not an okay way to treat a co-worker, especially when they’ve made it clear that they don’t like it!
But, somehow, Alice goes from not liking him at all to being best friends with him. I didn’t really understand how they got so close so quickly. What drew Alice to Takumi besides his extreme cuteness—especially after he was so obnoxious to her? I was never hoping for them to get together, because I couldn’t understand what she saw in him. (Also, similarly to this, I never understood why Alice liked TJ so much—was it just his cuteness and their similar taste in TV shows? At first I got the impression she really didn’t like him that much, especially since early in the book she’s actively ignoring him, so when she later says she has a squish on him, I was surprised and didn’t understand why.)
Anyway, Takumi’s bad treatment of Alice continues when he lies about forgetting his wallet to get her to come pick him up. Manipulation is not a good way to start a friendship. And again, he’s being really touchy without having her permission. Later, after he kisses her on the cheek in the movie theater, he does say he’s sorry and that he shouldn’t have invaded her personal space—but this is a pattern with him, doing something like that and then only realizing it might have been an issue afterward, instead of asking permission beforehand. Alice always seems fine with it, though, which bothered me; fiction often portrays a lack of consent as okay, or even romantic, and Alice being okay with Takumi not having her consent before he kisses/touches her plays right into that.
Speaking of that issue, I was flat-out horrified when Takumi pushes Alice against the car and kisses her. After they’ve specifically said to each other that they just want to be friends, this is really not okay! Even if Takumi thought Alice liked him, she said she wanted to only be friends, and he should have respected what she said. He had also said he was okay with being just friends, but apparently that was a lie. At times I was impressed with Alice and Takumi’s level of communication, because fictional relationships tend to not feature very good communication; I liked that they talked about their feelings toward each other and what they wanted their relationship to be like. But then a lot of that turned out to be lies (they actually liked each other all along, and didn’t want to keep their relationship a friendship), which means it wasn’t actually good communication at all.
The most disturbing part for me was the sex scene. After they kiss, Takumi orders Alice to get in the car—no asking, just commanding. Her dress scrunches up and she tries to pull it down, but he’s already pushing his hands up her skirt. She tries to say something to him, but he kisses her so she can’t speak. This came across as pushy at best, and rape-y at worst. Especially since Alice isn’t really sure how she feels about this happening. Which makes sense, when Takumi just sprung it on her suddenly and never bothered to ask if she actually wanted it! He even admits this later—“I felt terrible after. We’ve never talked about sex and I thought maybe I pushed you too far”—which, as I said before, is a pattern with him; he does something invasive, and only later realizes he should have asked Alice’s permission beforehand.
Later, when they actually are going to talk about their relationship, Takumi continues being awful by putting off the actual talking because he’d rather just kiss Alice. She literally keeps saying “We should talk” and he’s basically just like, “Nope, I’d rather kiss you.” And again, Alice lets him get away with this, because it’s supposedly romantic I guess? And when they actually do finally talk, Alice ends up having to reassure him that him pushing her into sex wasn’t a problem. She literally has to comfort him, because he can’t handle the thought that he might have done something wrong. I really, really didn’t like him throughout the whole book, so I wasn’t happy when they finally got together.
I also was just confused about Alice’s asexuality and her feelings of attraction. At the end, she says she had sex with Takumi because he wanted it, but in the moment, we’re told, “This was happening. And she didn’t want to stop.” She tells Takumi “You’re attractive to me,” which I thought was her saying she’s realized she does feel sexual attraction toward him, but then the next thing she says is that she doesn’t care about having sex with him. And she says she was fine that they had sex, but then she says she doesn’t want to have sex just for him and doesn’t want to feel like sex is something she has to do. So there seemed to be a lot of contradictions, and I just wasn’t sure how Alice actually felt. It ended up kind of feeling like her asexuality was just a device to keep her and Takumi from becoming a couple sooner, instead of like this was an authentic exploration of what it’s like to date as an asexual person. I also was bothered that my ace protagonist experiences arousal-on-first-sight toward the guy who ends up becoming her love interest; exploring the idea that arousal doesn’t equal attraction is good, but it basically read as “he’s so hot even an ace girl’s body responds to him”. And her going along with sex because he wants it (if that is in fact how we’re supposed to read the sex scene), with zero communication about it between them, just felt icky. I really appreciated that this was a story about an ace girl (and a black ace girl, since ace POC characters are rare), but I just couldn’t enjoy the storyline in this one because of the romanticization of Takumi’s pushy behavior.

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Claire Kann on Oct. 23, 2016, 9:26 p.m. said:

Claire Kann


Thank you for reading and taking the time to voice your honest thoughts! Alice has a very intense aesthetic attraction to everything under the sun, but it is not sex-related whatsoever, and can be difficult to relate to. I think this is where some of the confusion stems from at the end in regards to Takumi. She's aesthetically attracted to him, not sexually attracted.

On the other hand, a lot of what you mentioned/took issue with has already been addressed during the editing process. Many, many changes are happening <3 Thanks again!

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T. on Oct. 21, 2016, 5:06 p.m. said:

T.


First, I'm really happy to read a contemporary story featuring an asexual protagonist! I really want more of these kinds of books, so thank you for writing one. :)

As far as suggestions, one thing I've noticed so far is that I don't feel like I know much about Alice. I might have missed it, but as far as I remember, we don't know anything about her family, or her hopes/dreams/aspirations--like, what's her major in college, and what does she want to do with it? I'm also a bit concerned about the setup of her relationship with Takumi (since I know from the synopsis that they're going to start dating)--her immediate, very strong physical attraction to him is something I, as an ace person, can't relate to, and since I read books about asexual characters because I want to read about people like me, it's somewhat disappointing to me that the book is going in this direction. I'm worried about the problematic trope of asexual characters meeting the one special person who they do feel attraction for, and I also just don't enjoy romance stories about relationships that are based on physical attraction. However, I know I really can't judge it yet since I don't know exactly where the story is going, or what Alice is going to do with her new feelings. So I'll read on to find out!

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Obsidian on Oct. 7, 2016, 3:38 p.m. said:

Obsidian


I'm so excited this will be published!!

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Nadine on Oct. 5, 2016, 6:09 a.m. said:

Nadine


I can not wait to buy this! Its gunna look amazing on my shelf!

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Luisina08 on Sept. 25, 2016, 3:53 a.m. said:

Luisina08


The asexual representation so far is on point. All of Alice's insecurities about it ring very true and I can personally relate to them, since that's exactly how I felt when I first realized I was asexual. It's truly wonderful to be able to read about an asexual character and feel understood.
On a different note, I've noticed that the story jumps too quickly from one thing to the next and that makes it feel like there are parts missing, like how we went from the beginning of Takumi's interview to Alice crying about it without knowing what really happened in the interview, or how we jumped from her remembering her first sexual experience back to the present when she's not thinking or talking about this at all. This takes me out of the story and I need to refocus every couple of pages which makes it a bit uncomfortable to read. Hopefully you'll be able to figure out a way to fill out the blanks (which for all I know might come later on) and make the whole thing feel more fluid.

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Sarah Wiggins on Sept. 5, 2016, 3:43 p.m. said:

Sarah Wiggins


It was so good, cutie code blurple ♡. Everything I've read from this author has been good and im sure i can expect the rest of her future work to be just as good... Though i could only imagine the response feenie would of had finding out what happened in the company's car (no spoilers) lol, Keep up the good work ol' chap! ♡

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Wendy Venture on Sept. 4, 2016, 1:13 p.m. said:

Wendy Venture


The story ends at a great place for a sequel, *hint, hint, nudge, nudge*:)

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Ariana on Sept. 3, 2016, 10:50 p.m. said:

Ariana


I'm really enjoying it so far. I think the cutie code is brilliant. I appreciate that Alice has dated boys and girls. It was a nice contrast of her dating a girl in the beginning of the story vs her asexuality. Her dating a girl was perfectly normal but her being ace is not. Good job mentioning that romantic attraction and sexual attraction are not the same thing.

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