For a book that features an alien abduction of the female main character, Strange Love may actually contain one of the sweetest love stories I’ve read recently. Beryl, and her dog, Snaps, are accidentally (seriously) kidnapped from Earth by Zylar and brought to his home planet. They are fitted with translator chips and to my incredible delight this means Snaps can talk. Every wonderful thing you’re imagining your dogs saying? Snaps says. I can’t count how many times I snorted with laughter.
For the romance aspect I really appreciated how nuanced Beryl and Zylar’s relationship felt--they had to get to know each other while dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Zylar needs to go through a choosing as it is his last chance to both find a mate and not lose all privileges, and Beryl agrees to help him in this unique competition. I really loved how Aguirre pulled in the various challenges they faced while they’re also maneuvering Beryl’s adjustment to her new world.
What I loved about Zylar’s personality is that he’s extremely concerned about Beryl and her comfort level - if there’s something she had on Earth and he can make it happen here, he immediately does. He gave me all the beta vibes there are - plus he took advice from Snaps earnestly and wholeheartedly which made my heart just about burst.
The side characters are really well-developed, to the point that my romance reading antennae were pinging and hopeful. And something I absolutely loved about this book was how they approached sex because even though anatomically they are not what either of them are used to, they make it work and figure it out patiently, romantically, and it really made me emotional to think what we could learn from that.
This book could work best for a variety of readers - for those looking for an escapist read to get them away from earthly issues of the moment. Or for the animal lover who wishes they could read their dog’s mind. Or even just for the reader looking for a banana-pants book. It works for all of those things!
Content Warnings: Violence, death, drug use (side characters), kidnapping, infidelity (off page, side character), murder