4.5⭐️ – Finding a job and a place to stay is tricky for all ex-cons but Nadine Bayani’s situation comes with its own set of challenges. Nadine confessed to campaign finance crimes, a scandal that led to the victory of a horrible Republican candidate at the US presidential election. Republicans hate her because they see her as the symbol of corrupt Democrats and Democrats hate her because she caused their candidate’s loss. Of course it’s more complicated than that but what really matters to Nadine right now, is to try and have some sort of life back. She finally gets hired at Overstock Oasis, but when the manager realises who she is, he tries to bully her into quitting. Bella Clarke, one of Nadine’s colleagues, may be as angry at her as the rest of the country but she won’t stand by while Nadine’s being harassed.
The title, Worthy of Love, applies to both main characters. They’re both damaged, both insecure, both strong too. Neither can imagine the other would be interested in her, even though both feel immediate attraction, and progressively fall in love as they get to know each other. And as in Quinn Ivins’ debut novel, The Love Factor, the plot goes beyond the romance. Even after the protagonists get together, the story isn’t over, they still have some wrongs to right.
I loved Quinn Ivins’ first book so didn’t read the blurb before opening her second one. My first thought when I understood what it was about was “wow, that’s gutsy”. And while I liked her first book a lot, I think I enjoyed this one even more.
In The Love Factor, she indulged in her love of statistics. With Worthy of Love, she tackles two topics she knows just as well: one of the MCs is a Filipino immigrant, like Ivins’ wife, and the other is neurodivergent, like Quinn Ivins herself. Both matters are an essential part of the story and of who the characters are but Ivins never falls into clumsy didacticism. She shines a light on issues, among which the absurdity of the US healthcare system, with both serenity and efficacy. They’re at the same time not what this book is about and very much what it is about. Nadine’s isolation after her trial is inextricably linked to the fact that her family lives in another country. As to Bella’s realisation that maybe, just maybe, she’s not stupid – she’s actually very smart, in addition to being kind and compassionate – I couldn’t relate more. My own dyspraxia diagnosis changed the way I viewed my abilities in many respects.
In short, Worthy of Love is smart and well-written with excellent characters.