Real estate agent Josh Pearlman is in need of a change. Too many empty relationships have left him wanting something more meaningful, but looking for it in all the wrong places. When he’s offered a position as a group leader on a tour to Israel, he jumps at the chance go. Josh finds himself entranced by the history and culture of his religious homeland and by the handsome medic working with their tour group.
Yaron Peres can’t help liking the attractive, clumsy Josh, but his heart belongs to the memory of another. While he wants to give more of himself, Yaron can’t move beyond the pain and heartbreak of his past. Josh is ready to embrace the change he has so desperately sought and finally found and he wants Yaron to be a part of that. If he can’t, then Josh will have to be strong enough to move forward without him.
I was really excited to read Ahava is Love. The blend of religion, travel, and cultural exploration is one that usually hits all the right notes for me. Unfortunately, Ahava is Love reads as rather shallow in almost all aspects. I did enjoy the limited exploration of Israel and the pacing is solid. It’s a quick read and the overall plot is fairly straightforward. Yaron is an empathetic character and it’s easy to see why he is so reluctant to give away his heart. He isn’t given a lot of definition and that is a shame, because with a bit more depth, Yaron could have done a lot to save this book. He had a more natural development than any of the other characters and he’s easy for readers to relate to almost from the start.
Josh, on the other hand, is a jerk. And not a particularly profound one. He is quick to serve as group leader on a student tour to Israel, despite the fact we are given no real evidence of Josh being particularly religious. His few demonstrations of faith feel hollow and mechanical and that seems especially sad given importance of Israel to millions of people. But that’s Josh to a tee. He’s obsessed with Yaron because of his looks, despite having recently vowed to start seeking a more substantial relationship. And when Yaron is hesitant, Josh reads like a petulant child who isn’t being giving the toy he wants. Even after Yaron explains how his first lover died [spoiler](he was killed in a terrorist attack)[/spoiler], Josh describes Yaron as being “stuck in the past.” This all stems back to a lack of empathy or understanding on Josh’s part. He reads as a man who is rather selfish and consumed by his own desires rather than caring about those around him. He comes off as somewhat immature and even when he displays moments of growth, they don’t seem to last. I never understood why Yaron felt Josh was worth pursuing and I didn’t believe that Josh actually embraced any real sense of change in his life.
Ahava is Love has a nice premise, but lacks depth or much emotional involvement on the part of the main characters. Josh is superficial and comes off as exceptionally selfish. There isn’t much by way of plot and while Yaron is somewhat redemptive, he never evolves into a three dimensional character. Unless you’re a huge fan of travel fiction, I’d probably think about giving this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.