The Opposite of Love by T.A.Pace

I was recently sent a copy of The Opposite of Love by T.A.Pace and I was shocked to my core within a few pages. Pace hits you with a literal and emotional impact in the first few pages and you just don’t see it coming at all. I have to admit, I really wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it.
Without giving too much away, there is an extremely untimely and brutal, albeit accidental, death and I assumed that given the terribly tragic nature of this event, the rest of the novel was going to be about how the main protagonist, Melanie, deals with being a witness to this dreadful accident. While it does play an important part in the novel in a number of ways, it isn’t actually the main focus of the novel. The novel is more about Melanie learning to understand what love is, in terms of the commitment required and the consideration that it may not work out, but if it does, it is all-consuming and wonderful. Where there is risk, there is a high reward, and Pace does an amazing job of unpacking this concept through Melanie’s eyes.
I should say, I did predict quite early on that the ending would turn out the way it did. However, it did not make me enjoy the book any less and there was enough there to make me doubt my prediction. Pace writes with a wonderfully poetic style that captures the feelings and emotions of the characters that in turn captures the emotions of the reader.
Melanie is highly successful, pretty and she looks after herself well. She seems devoid of deep emotion at first which makes her puzzling, at best, and unlikable, at worst. She acknowledges that something is missing from her life although she refuses to admit that it is someone to love. The two men in her life, Derek, the friend with benefits, and James, the detective who she initially dates to make a point to her mother, are polar opposites personality-wise. The fact that this is written in a 3rd person narrative helps the reader to make an informed decision of whether they like Derek and James. They are privy to their thoughts so that by the end of the novel, there is no doubt in the reader’s mind who Melanie should find love with.
There are a couple of red herrings to distract the reader as to where the plot is going. For example, when James is shot in the leg by his strangely hostile partner following a number of clues to indicate that there is something not quite right about him, there is potential for a whole new storyline there but Pace merely uses this to put James in a position of vulnerability so that Melanie can get a handle on her feelings for him. Also, there is the incident in the art gallery where Melanie’s sister’s ex-boyfriend, Justin, turns up and has to be hauled out by Derek after things get physical between Melanie and Justin. Again, in hindsight, this is actually just an indication of Derek’s feelings for Melanie and Melanie’s defence of her sister.
Pace’s brilliant writing style and an ability to shock and pull on the reader’s emotions makes The Opposite of Love an effective narrative which keeps the reader gripped throughout. Whilst there are plenty of scenes of a sexual nature, as Melanie experiments to find out what she is comfortable with, they are not gratuitous and always there for the purposes of investigating more about the characters. If you like an intelligent and emotionally charged narrative, then this is what you will find in The Opposite of Love.

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