Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Tuesday, February 23, 2021


by Kate Clayborn
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Publication Date: February 23rd 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷1/2

I'm a Kate Clayborn superfan and she has yet to write a book that I haven't loved with every fiber of my being. She has this incredible ability to gut me with her love stories and I've found that I'm a big fan of her brand of angst. Love at First was another beautiful and achy book from Kate Clayborn. I shouldn't have been surprised by how much I fell for this story.

The prologue of Love at First opens with a teenaged, blurry-visioned Will meeting his maternal uncle for the first time one afternoon when his mother drags him to his Chicago apartment. This is a pivotal moment in Will's life - it's bittersweet because he hears Nora's voice here for the first time but this is also when his dreams decidedly end up crushed. Fast forward years later, Will is now an ER physician and his uncle, who he never met after that one afternoon, has left his apartment to Will. He plans on fixing up the unit and renting it out as an Airbnb. Enter Nora, who is also now living in her grandmother's apartment, still grieving from her loss. The apartment building and its tenants hold a special place in her heart, so Nora definitely does not want a rotation of strangers in her building. This creates tension between Will and Nora - I wouldn't call them outright enemies, but they are in opposition to each other. Obviously, this is a romance novel, so there's also an absurd amount of sexual tension between the two that we get to watch play out throughout the book.

All of the characters in Love at First are so well-written. Of course, we get to see more of Will and Nora in the book, but even the secondary cast felt like and living and breathing individuals with their varying personalities. There's almost an element of found-family among these neighbors. They are fiercely protective of each other, care about each other's happiness and sorrows, and it's genuinely the sweetest thing ever. Some of them also serve as to lighten the book with their humorous meddlesome ways. Will's boss, who eventually becomes a good friend to him, is another great addition to this book - we even get to see his second chance romance in the background!

Back to talking about Will and Nora. Both of these characters have baggage which led to them being guarded with their emotions. They are both dealing with different traumas in Love at First. Will has his struggles from growing up unloved as a child - ugh, chest aches - and Nora is dealing with the grief of having lost her beloved grandmother. In a way, their argumentative interactions with each other is a form of solace from their baggage and it was clear to me as a reader, that they were meant for each other. The two have a lot of emotional growing up to do in the book before finally coming together as a couple but the journey was lovely and satisfying. Kate Clayborn fed my romance reading soul with this book. I mean there are numerous scenes of Will leaning against doorways, deliciously swoony kisses, all the consent, and emotional monologues and realization moments that had me clutching my chest! 

I don't know how Kate Clayborn does it, but I'm here for everything that she writes. There's a reason why she is one of my all-time favorite authors and once again, with Love at First she proves why she 100% deserves to be on my list.

CW: death of a grandparent, parents, neighbor, uncle

Relationship disclosure: Kate Clayborn and I are mutuals on social media.

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