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Karola – :
Age gap, slow burn, opposites attract, you‘ve got it all in this book. While Molly realizes early that she has feelings for Carmen, Carmen is more occupied with hiding her real self in front of everyone. Until it‘s too late and Molly is gone. But what would be a good book without a happy ending and a second chance? A really good story.
Hsinju C. – :
Due to recession and her activist past, Molly Cook decided to pursue a PhD degree in political science. In advanced statistics by Dr. Carmen Vaughn, an aloof professor with incredibly high standards, Molly showed promising performance. When she stumbled upon a scandal of a homophobic faculty member, Molly sought guidance from Carmen. The two began to spend more time working together, and their professional boundaries blurred. But Carmen was closeted and would never get involved with a student. Little did she know, Molly was not entirely sure if she would finish her program, either.
Set in 1997 and 1998, The Love Factor is an academic intrigue romance with great historical context. As a Millennial-Gen Z hybrid, it was not a time I remembered but definitely lived through. And that heightened the reading enjoyment as I experienced those years with Molly and Carmen.
I confess I have a weak spot for stories set in academia. Being a grad student and teaching assistant, I immediately connected with Molly, and to some degree, Carmen as well. It goes without saying that teaching a university class is incredibly challenging. I deeply admire both Molly and Carmen for their confidence and strong technical knowledge.
Molly was very hands on. She truly internalized what she had learned and flawlessly integrated her statistics expertise into things other than coursework. Meanwhile, Carmen was suffocating from the conservative department, struggling between being content with current situations and standing up for what she believed in. Both were strong women in their own ways, and though I tend to have trouble believing in ice queen romances, Ivins’s The Love Factor was very solid. Never once did I question their mutual attraction. Since Molly and Carmen built their relationship from mutual respect and passion for statistics, they made mathematics super sexy. I had an urge to crack open my textbooks and study to be as good as they were.
Though the sex scene escalated a little fast for me and the scandal was outrageous, I believed in everything Ivins delivered. She did a wonderful job at storytelling. I love how both Molly and Carmen significantly grew as characters, going from being unsure of themselves to flourishing. Also, it was a cute decision to make the scene break notations Molly’s scrunchies.
If I were to sum up this book in one sentence, it would be “lesbians taking down a sexist homophobe using advanced statistics.” If that does not sound appealing, I don’t know what does. The Love Factor is a perfect romance for nerdy people like me.
[I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.]
Karen Reno-Cobb – :
An age gap/ice queen story set in the late ’90s, just after Ellen came out and President Clinton was lying about Monica Lewinsky, both of which I remember very well. Although the teacher/student relationship is a hot button for some, I enjoy these stories as I lived it myself (41 years going strong). Carmen is not only a grade A ice queen, but she’s an extremely successful, closeted, college professor who is unable to resist falling for her favorite graduate student (who is 30). But is does until Molly has completed her Master’s degree and moved on.
As a professor whose specialty is Political Science/Statistics, there’s a lot of math going on, which I happen to enjoy. In addition to the love story is an intrigue involving bringing down a colleague who has falsified data for a published study. I found myself unable to put the book down until it resolved, even though I knew it would be.
A very well-written debut novel (with the exception of two issues with wrong names) and I’ll anxiously await Ms Ivins’s next book.
Betty Harmon – :
Quinn Ivins has definitely impressed me with her debut novel The Love Factor. For her first novel, she has created a really unique and appealing story set in the late 1990’s during a time of great change for everyone, but especially LGBTQ+ folks.
The book is an age-gap/opposites attract romance between a professor and grad student, so it touches on several romance genres. This novel could almost be considered a historical fiction novel, but I refuse to mark it that way. You see, I’m about the same age as one of the main characters, and lived through this very turbulent time period myself. I’m not old enough to mark a significant period of my adulthood as historical, dammit! 😉
There really are many wonderful things I can say about this book. The setting, especially the description of the time period is spot on. The author did her research, and captures this era with all its political and cultural upheaval perfectly. She also did a great job in describing the statistical information so that this very math challenged reader could understand at least a little of what the main characters, Carmen and Molly, were involved with and studying. Probably the best part of the tale are the characters themselves. They are remarkably well developed and fit the time period and the story superbly. This is a good thing since this is a character driven tale. The connection between Molly and Carmen is also well done. It is a slow-burn romance, but you can see they belong together.
I really did enjoy this (definitely not historical fiction) romance, and I can recommend it to everyone who loves this genre. I will also be looking forward to more books from this author.
Thanks to Ylva Publishing for giving me the chance to read and honestly review this book.
Micki – :
I’m absolutely in love with this book. It’s so unique compared to most lesbian romances, not just because of the late 90s setting (which was PERFECT—the nostalgia was just excellent, even though I was very young back then) but also because of the depth of the plot and the growth of the characters. It feels like so much more than a romance. It tackles LGBT+ history and politics, issues in academia, and self-discovery. The development of Molly and Carmen’s relationship is so organic and the best kind of slow burn. By the time they finally get together, it feels absolutely earned. I couldn’t have been more invested in the romance between these two. This novel is so fantastic, especially for a debut. I can’t wait to read more from this author. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long, long time.