Reena Montero has always loved Sawyer LeGrande. She and her best friend, Allie, watch his every move and examine every word he says. He is a veritable hobby for the two girls. When Sawyer and Allie begin dating, Reena holds her feelings in and tries to accept their relationship, but she just can’t bear to see her best friend and the boy she thinks may be her one true love grow closer and closer, so her friendship with Allie comes to an abrupt halt.

Just when Reena’s dream of a relationship with Sawyer begins to seem like a real possibility, tragedy strikes. She is left to cope with more guilt and pain than she ever could have imagined. Against the odds, she and Sawyer manage to come together at last, but his problems may be too much for Reena to bear. When she’s close to giving up, she finds out she’s pregnant, and shortly after, she watches Sawyer drive away.

Three years later, Reena has managed to piece together a life for herself and her daughter Hannah when Sawyer reappears and turns her world upside-down again. Their connection is real and convincing, but it’s difficult to imagine how they could possibly build a life together.

Katie Cotugno’s debut novel takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Reena is a believable young protagonist who evokes empathy in the reader, and it would be tough not to root for her, even as she makes one bad decision after another.

How to Love is a story of first love, true love and the quick decisions that can change lives forever. The romance is provocative, and the storytelling is both compelling and gripping. Readers may find themselves taken back to their own first loves and wondering what might have been.

Emily Booth Masters reviews from Nashville, Tennessee.

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