The London of Us by Clare Lydon is an adorable toaster oven, friends to lovers romcom and it’s the fourth book in her London Calling series. Like the rest of the series, it can be read as a standalone novel, and fans will be happy to catch up with their favourite previous leading ladies.
Alice Di Santo’s life is perfect on paper. Her boyfriend, Jake, is thoughtful, kind, and ridiculously handsome—you know, marriage material. They have a popular YouTube series that they do with their friend Rachel. Alice’s job as a teacher is great too, and she’s about to head into her well-deserved summer holidays.
There’s one major problem, though. Alice can’t stop thinking and dreaming about Rachel. Alice always thought she was straight and never had any reason to question her sexuality before, but each day her feelings intensify until she knows that something has to change. Can she tell everyone that her life is going to go way off script?
Tara: The London of Us is told in the first person from Alice’s perspective, so this is truly her book. It’s a departure from how the last couple of installments in the series were told (I haven’t read the first one, so I can’t speak to that), and it works very well because it brings us immediately into Alice’s experience.
We first met Alice in A Girl Called London, because she’s best friends with Tanya. It’s there that we learned they would joke that Alice looks more gay than Tanya, even though she’s happily straight. Even still, it included a hint that paid off huge in The London of Us, and we get such a satisfying romance between Alice and Rachel (who I adored equally).
One aspect that I especially appreciate is that Alice didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that she’s a lesbian. We see her explore what she’s feeling, and it was refreshing and validating—especially as someone who identifies as bisexual—to see her grapple with labels, admitting that she didn’t know whether she was bi or a lesbian. It felt very real and worked so well.
Erin: Exactly. Honestly, I cannot explain how much I loved that this book features a lead character who is still working out how she feels, and that Lydon didn’t rush in and make Alice suddenly identify as a lesbian was the best kind of surprise of all. So respectfully written. Alice was one of my favourite side characters from previous London series books, and when I heard that there was going to be a book featuring a same sex love match for her, I knew I had to read it. And it was perfect. The way that Alice begins to understand and accept her attraction to Rachel is so beautifully (and appropriately) full of anguish and difficulty, you just know it took something special to get that onto paper.
I also loved the supporting characters in this book. So much so, I sent Tara a message in the middle of reading it expressing just how much I enjoyed Sabrina throughout, and then that restaurant scene with Alice’s Mum… hilariously funny. The best thing about reading a Lydon book is just how real the characters seem, and The London of Us is absolutely no exception.
Tara: I know! How great are all of those side characters?! I was also really happy to catch up with all the other characters from the series and see how they are now.
Oh, and I can’t forget to talk about Rachel! She was so lovely and I appreciated how she was happy to move at Alice’s speed the whole time. I wish we could have had a little more insight into her feelings and experiences, although I think Lydon did a great job of getting across the fact that Rachel was head over heels for Alice.
Erin: Ahhh Rachel. She was the perfect first female love for Alice (or anyone newly discovering the joys of lady love), you are so right, Tara. I would have liked to get to know her better too, but what I do know? I liked it immensely.
The Writing Style
Erin: What a perfect example of why Clare Lydon is one of my favourites. The way she writes romances, with her unique brand of British humour, her exquisitely written characters, and the kind of tropes that make my knees go weak.
Tara: Yes, high five Erin! All of that! I would also add that the pacing was excellent, the plotting spot on, and I had a really hard time putting the book down. I would have happily read more about these characters because the writing was so divine.
Erin: Definitely. I am really hoping to see more of these two in future books in the London series.
Erin: I don’t know about you Tara, but I genuinely love this series and OMG, just when I thought Clare Lydon had written every type of story that I wanted to read, she goes and throws a can of toaster oven whoop ass at me. So much to like about this book too, with a lead unsure of her sexuality but certain of her attraction, some terrific supporting characters, and that tantalizing toaster oven plot… just wow. This book has easily made it onto my re-read list, and I am itching to try the audiobook now!!
Tara: Oh yeah, I loved everything about this book! It made me so happy and I totally agree that I’d love to listen to it too!
Erin: I would love to see just a wee bit more diversity in the London series… a gorgeous woman of colour, a love interest who is a bit older, or some of the cultural melting pot London is so famous for. What Lydon does, she does well, so I’m not complaining… just wishing and hoping.
Tara: I hadn’t considered that, but you’re right. That’s my only con as well.
Tara: The London of Us is definitely one of my favourite books so far this year! It’s a seriously good story with wonderful characters, a sweet and sexy romance, and all the charm and humour I’ve come to love in the rest of the London Calling books. This is the best in the series so far and I’ll be coming back to it again and again in the future!
Erin: I agree wholeheartedly. Take everything you love about everything Clare Lydon has ever written, package it up into one book, and you have The London of Us. I thought A Girl Called London would always be my favourite of the series, but turns out each book just goes up another level from the last. Cannot wait to see how the next book comes out… but for now, this book is headed for my re-read shelf, right at the front!
Excerpt from The London Of Us by Clare Lydon
The front door slammed and I relaxed for the first time that morning. I spread my legs in the bed, then my arms, wriggling over to the middle, revelling in the space. It’s what I needed more than anything right now.
Space to breathe, space to think.
The school holidays had come at just the right time. Although too much time to think might send me into a tailspin, and I didn’t need that.
I wanted to scream at the universe, to ask what was happening to me.
Why couldn’t I just carry on with Jake and be happy? Plenty of women would be.
But deep down inside, I knew what was happening.
And her name was Rachel.
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The London of Us
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781912019748
- Publisher: Custard Books
Clare Lydon Online
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