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Book Review: With Love, from Cold World by Alicia Thompson

Book Review: With Love, from Cold World by Alicia Thompson

As well as having one of the best romance book covers of the year so far, Alicia Thompsons latest novel offers up a charming opposites attract romance thats packed with endearing moments, fantastic chemistry and one entirely unique setting youll be left wishing you could visit in real life. Between the cast of diverse characters and the novels exploration of important topics, With Love, from Cold World quickly makes it clear that its so much more than a simple love story. Yes, its a fun and heartfelt read that features workplace rivals, intense attraction and some swoony scenes besides, but Thompson has also taken great care in crafting an emotional, complex and layered narrative too, ultimately making With Love, from Cold World a romance thats hot, tender, and a completely refreshing addition to romance bookshelves everywhere.

Lauren Fox and Asa Williamson work together at Cold World, a year-round winter wonderland tourist destination located in sunny and humid Orlando, Florida. Bookkeeper Lauren is quiet and tends to keep to herself, wary of letting people get too close after a childhood being brought up in the foster system. Asa, meanwhile, is Cold Worlds longest-serving employee – he’s the one who’s always the life and soul of the party and loves to tease his coworkers (and Lauren in particular), but lately the idea of having others expect him to be the most fun person in the room has started to wear a little thin.

When Cold Worlds owner seeks out Lauren and Asas help to come up with ideas to help the business make more money, Lauren and Asas workplace rivalry quickly heats up as they compete to come up with the best idea. As they start to spend more and more time together, though – sometimes intentional, sometimes not so much – both Lauren and Asa are surprised to find that theres more to the other than they first thought. With the future of Cold World on the line, working together may be their beloved workplaces best hope and, with the attraction between them growing hotter every day, Lauren and Asa are ultimately both left considering what they really want their futures to look like, and whether or not theyre ready to let someone else get close enough to be a part of it.

She’d tossed and turned all week, trying to make sense of the way she was feeling. All she knew was that somehow Asa had gone from someone she found vaguely irritating to the person she most looked forward to seeing.”

With Love, from Cold World is packed with warmth and emotion from the first page, centring on two characters with a lot of preconceived notions about each other and the beautiful relationship they form when they begin to let the other in. From the moment they first met at the annual Cold World holiday party two years earlier, just a few weeks after Lauren started working there, Asa and Lauren’s personalities clashed and they’d struggled to find any common ground since, so watching both characters slowly peel back their armour and let the other see their true selves was so heartening to watch unfold, helped massively by the addition of a dual POV here – something that Thompson’s previous novel, Love in the Time of Serial Killers, was lacking.

In spending time together, talking to each other and both opening up about their difficult family lives, Lauren and Asa form a quick and clear connection, and this novel switches effortlessly from presenting them as coworkers who rile each other up to tentative friends who share an attraction that’s constantly building up to something more. Both their stories are told with such compassion and care by the author too, and even while this novel explores some difficult themes, including child neglect, domestic abuse, religious bigotry and biphobia, it never loses its heart or its focus, always bringing it back to Asa, Lauren, and the shifting relationship between them.

There are some frustrations, most notably in the pacing and quick development of the relationship itself, as well as the frequent miscommunications between the pair that Thompson relies on just a little too often to create tension and roadblocks for the couple. With Love, from Cold World starts off with a slow burn workplace dynamic, but the physical attraction between Lauren and Asa kicks in quickly almost out of nowhere, and their physical and emotional relationship escalates even faster once it begins too. Admittedly, this does pave the way for some steamy scenes that are always well-written and very emotionally charged too, but it also makes the subsequent two-steps-forward, one-step-back set up of Lauren and Asa’s relationship increasingly frustrating to read, even when you completely understand where both characters are coming from and why they reacted in the ways they did.

For the most part, though, this is a very heartfelt and joyful book with sympathetic, relatable leads, realistic stakes and a relationship you really want to root for. With compelling side plots, an extremely loveable found family group and a hint of holiday cheer alongside, With Love, from Cold World is a wonderfully layered, completely unique romance novel that is sure to stick with you.


With Love, from Cold World was published by Penguin on 3 August 2023

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