*Sponsored | Love After All by Julie Tetel Andresen is the second book in her Love and the City trilogy. I recently read the first book in the series, DeMarco’s Café, and shared my book review and what a literary date would look like inspired by this book. It would be a fun one! If you missed it, check it out: DeMarco’s Café Literary Date Option #1.
There’s a lot to unpack with Love After All because it is like no other romance book I’ve read before. I’m still trying to figure out how I truly felt about this book. My first thought is a book that challenges the preconceived notions of how a romance book should be, is a good thing. But one does usually go to romance books for the sizzle and the hot & spicy escapism. To me, that is not quite what this book is. Is that a bad thing? We will uncork this baby and figure it out.
As always, after my book review, I’ll list out the NYC spots this book could send us to in a Love After All literary date. Besides NYC, this story is also partly set in Durham, NC at the Duke University campus, so not as many NYC sites as DeMarco’s Café. The characters still hit enough places that I think it could also inspire a fun literary date in the city.
*Book was gifted and this is a sponsored post in collaboration with CTS Agency and author Julie Tetel Andresen. All opinions are my own.
Love After All Synopsis
In Love After All, I’m excited that we have a romance involving an older couple than is typically seen in romance books. Laurel Jennings is an NYU Dean and professor who is divorced with an adult daughter while Gino Milano is a recently widowed big-shot restaurateur, also with his own adult children.
Laurel needs a date to her thirty-fifth college reunion at Duke University and Gino needs a date to his fundraiser events to keep the ladies off his tail. Poor guy!
I smell a fake relationship trope and I’m all for it! But will this fake relationship lead to true love?
Laurel and Gino have a lot of uncertainties to navigate in this relationship scenario they’ve created. It’s fun and games during the fundraising events but gets complicated when the trip to North Carolina for the reunion approaches.
How far are they willing to take this fake relationship and what if real feelings the other doesn’t reciprocate are involved? Is it time to call it or will they take a chance?
Besides the fact that Laurel invited a man she barely knows to her out-of-state college reunion, Love After All seemed like a realistic version of a romance to me. It may seem like a leap given the premise, but I will explain. First, we are given dual narrators in this book between Laurel and Gino. We get to take a deep dive into how their very different minds think.
Laurel is this smart and independent woman but she also has her self-doubts. She’s described as someone who is strong and her strength comes from her clarity. What does that mean?
I think Laurel has the clarity to assess sticky situations accurately and maintain her composure. Laurel does, however, have her vulnerabilities and insecurities just like the next person. However, a person observing Laurel would likely never see them unless she lets her guard down.
I got a lot to say about Gino!
With Gino, I felt getting into his head was likely an accurate portrayal of how a man’s brain actually thinks. I won’t lie, I like those romance books where we get an idealistic version of a man’s thoughts. The kind that makes us swoon.
Gino definitely did not make me swoon. I didn’t even swoo for him. But Gino made me take a hard look into what I expect out of a man. Ultimately, he’s a great guy who has the potential to really care and be a strong partner. It’s just at first, he seems kind of shallow and superficial with what he’s looking for.
Laurel and Gino
However, while reading the inner thoughts of both characters, I felt like they navigated their whole relationship in a rational way and took a logical approach. It rang true to me because it all seemed like actual things that would run through someone’s head while dating and contemplating compatibility.
From trivial things like what they eat to more serious matters of the heart. Their inner thoughts weren’t tantalizing and exciting but they were honest.
But there’s one thing about Gino that I just can’t let go of. As a formerly active dater in the NYC dating scene, I cannot NOT bring up the fact that Gino only brings women to his restaurants for dates. Oh. My. GOD.
One time would be fun and exciting, two times, okay it’s nice, but three times, NO Gino! Stop bringing me to your place of work. That is not romantic or original!
I would have given up on Gino so fast but ladies, I would have missed out on a good guy. Lessons. I think I’ve learned some valuable life lessons from Love After All.
We all have flaws. We can’t be perfect. Maybe it’s time I look for a Gino and I’d be like, “Listen, Gino…I got an idea for a restaurant we can go to…and it’s not one of yours.” And he would go because Gino’s a decent guy.
I think Love After All is a more reality-based romance book so it’s different. If you go for romance books, as many do, for a sexy good time, this may not be the one for you. However, if you’re open to trying out a different style of romance, I think you may enjoy this sweet romance too. I love that this book features an older couple because there are not enough romance books that do. As an older woman myself (did I just admit that?), I appreciated it. Love can come for you at any age.
Trigger warning: sex is implied in the love scenes.
To learn more about Love After All, head to the author’s website at julietetelandresen.com.
Potential Literary Date for Love After All
*Spoiler alert* While I don’t reveal overt spoilers, I have to warn you that book locations could give you a clue as to how the story unfolds. For the most part, I don’t think that happens with this book. I will also always say that knowing the literary date spots will make you enjoy the book even more, but I am biased. 😉
This is a good place to start since one of our main characters is a restauranteur.
One of Gino’s restaurants that he seems to frequent the most and brings all his dates to is called Sette. I found Sette Mezzo which is an upscale Italian restaurant on the upper east side. Gino is definitely Italian so this sounds like the spot to me. I love Italian. Italian and Mexican are my top two favs so I’ll go to Italian any day of the week. Meat eaters will have plenty of yummy options to choose from. As a vegetarian, I could do the gnocchi, ravioli, or build my own pasta! Ooh I like the sound of that option.
The Taproom is the name of another restaurant of Gino’s. In the city, we have a gastropub called Taproom No. 307 near Gramercy Park, which is female, latinx-owned. It may not be the inspiration for Gino’s restaurant but I like that it’s gastropub fare so I’ll take it! Brunch could be good here with either Avocado Smash or Nutella French Toast. Or come in for beer and nachos made with IPA beer cheese sauce. I’ll take a keg of that cheese sauce, please!
*Spoiler* Laurel actually got Gino to go to a restaurant that he doesn’t own.
This is an actual Russian restaurant in the city located in the Flatiron district. It’s actually not too far from Taproom. The ambiance of this restaurant looks pretty cute, like your grandma’s house with floral wallpaper, vintage framed photographs, and amazing chandeliers. I would go just for the ambiance! I’d eat the food too since they do have an entree designed for me- Russian-style potatoes with mushrooms and onions. I’ll enjoy that while you feast on the Beef Stroganoff. Let’s go!
They don’t actually go here but this place gets a mention and because it’s a vegetarian restaurant, I have to include it! It’s located on the lower east side and it’s a restaurant that features all vegetables with the goal of making them the tastiest vegetables you’ll ever have. And here they don’t do tips because they give their staff a living wage that starts at $25 per hour. I think that’s why the restaurant is mentioned because Gino is trying the same at one of his restaurants. Awesome!
Places to Go
Laurel lives and works in Greenwich Village so naturally, her apartment building, Brevoort East, is in this neighborhood too. People with money can live close to their jobs in the city. I’m not jealous at all though because I do love Brooklyn but Greenwich Village sure is nice. Laurel probably has a 5-minute walking commute to NYU. Not jealous. I’ll have to visit this building and see if I can tour one of the apartments. I’ll pretend to be an NYU Dean looking for an apartment although the actual dean probably lives here so that might not be the brightest idea.
The Highline and Chelsea galleries
I think the brief mention of Laurel going to these spots was a nod to Julie Tetel Andresen’s first book in the trilogy, DeMarco’s Café. Laurel finds some tasty street food during this outing, a tofu noodle dish. I’d go for that!
The Yale Club
I have to break it to you all but I did not go to Yale, so, therefore, I’m not allowed into this exclusive club. Maybe I can filter my dating apps to show only guys who went to Yale and then maybe I’ll suggest we meet up here. I still don’t know if I’d even be allowed in, so forget this place. Next!
People’s Improv Theater
I love improv! Laurel took improv classes here and while I do love improv, this book will not inspire me to take classes. Why? I already have! Not the same spot Laurel went to but the class structure sounds the same.
People’s Improv Theater aka the PIT is where Laurel took her classes. I may not take the classes, but it would be nice to see an improv show again. Also, I have to tell you about an improv game that Laurel reminded me of. I’ve played it so many times in improv and acting classes so it’s a fav.
Next time you’re hanging with a solid group of people you have to try it! It’s a numbers game of counting to twenty or however high the group can go. You sit in a circle, close your eyes, and one by one you count in order, but if anyone speaks at the same time, you have to start over. If you’re confused, it’s not counting in order of how you’re sitting, anyone can say the next number. That’s why often two or more will speak at the same time.
You have to feel the energy of the group and become attuned to one another to reach a high number. Don’t try to be “smart” like Laurel and count how many are in the group and calculate how many times you should shout out a number. No!
It doesn’t work that way. You can take part once, twice, or five times doesn’t matter (although you do want to give other people a chance too). Go on impulse and your group will get far! It’s often when a person hesitates that two people end up shouting at the same time. Okay, yes, I do heart this game.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I went here for my New York, Actually NYC tour but it’s a massive museum with so much to explore. I definitely could go back and besides, last time I mainly just went up to the rooftop. I also want to play the game Laurel and Gino played while visiting. I will steal their museum game idea next time I’m on a museum date. I won’t give it away here.
The Plaza Hotel
While I could not afford to stay a night here, maybe I could get some afternoon tea at The Palm Court or in the evening have a craft cocktail? Although apparently, the afternoon tea is a New York City iconic destination so Afternoon Tea it is! I’ll have to wear a pretty dress!
They don’t actually go to a game but there’s a lot of Yankees talk in this book. Could be fun! Beer and a veggie hot dog sound good to me. Do they have those yet? Alright, I’ll have a pretzel and cheese fries.
Since Laurel lives and works in this neighborhood, exploring the West Village is always a lovely time. Perhaps a food tour is in order? And/or some ice cream at Big Gay Ice Cream, it’s instaworthy ice cream. Visiting the Whitney Museum would be cool too and on-brand with Love After All. I visited Hudson River Park during my In Five Years literary date, but I’d love to go back and this time I would bring a blanket.
Well, this concludes my literary date book review for Love After All. It’s a very sweet and smartly written romance book. I enjoyed it and I think it could inspire a nice literary date in the city. What do you think? What would you like to see from this literary date if I went on it?
Let me know in the comments!
Next Up for Literary Dates
I will be reading the final book in Julie Tetel Andresen’s Love and the City trilogy, The Hard Bargain. This one sounds fun, we have a billionaire and Carla who’s an actor who will play the role of a lifetime as the billionaire’s faux fiance. What could go wrong or right? I can’t wait to find out!
I’m also currently reading In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer and really enjoying it. Maybe a Literary Date Book Review is in order?
Until then, thank you all for reading this post, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Whether you are coupled up or single like me, enjoy it. I’ll enjoy some chocolate, maybe some ice cream, my cat, and a girly movie. Purrfection!