Top Ten Tuesday: Love Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

Well, it’s been a heck of a week: with my other half continuing to test positive we are in the second week of my doing school runs – 20 minutes in the wrong direction from my work, a before-school breakfast club half an hour earlier than the little one wants to be at school, and 38 minutes to make a 35 minute commute back to my work… and then a full day before repeating in reverse.

Still, only a few more days of that to go, which my daughter will be immensely grateful for!

And this week I have managed to finish two books – Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land and Kiran Millwood Hargraves’ Julia and the Shark which was a very poignant depiction of bipolar in a children’s book – which I will need to find time to review this week.

But anyway, onto this week’s Top Ten Topic, a love freebie.

What I thought I’d do is to search through my calibre library for books that contain the word love and see what that throws up, regardless of genre. So, here goes, in alphabetical order:

Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, M. C. Beaton

Love, like hell, is a four-letter word for Agatha . . .

No happily ever after for her! Recently married to neighbour James Lacey, Agatha quickly finds that love is not all it’s cracked up to be – soon the newly-weds are living in separate cottages and accusing each other of infidelity. Then, after a fight down the local pub, James vanishes – a bloodstain the only clue to his fate. Naturally, Agatha is Suspect Number One. Determined to clear her name – and find her husband – Agatha begins her investigation and promptly discovers a murdered mistress . . .

The Case of the Love Commandos, Tarquin Hall

When Ram and Tulsi fall in love, the young woman’s parents are dead set against the union. She’s from a high-caste family; he’s an Untouchable, from the lowest strata of Indian society. Young Tulsi’s father locks her up and promises to hunt down the “loverboy dog.” Fortunately, India’s Love Commandos, a group of volunteers dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples, come to the rescue. But just after they liberate Tulsi, Ram is mysteriously snatched from his hiding place.

The task of finding him falls to India’s “Most Private Investigator”. To reunite the star-crossed lovers, Puri and his team of operatives must infiltrate Ram’s village and navigate the caste politics shaped by millennia-old prejudices. 

Enduring Love, Ian McEwan

One windy spring day in the Chilterns Joe Rose’s calm, organised life is shattered by a ballooning accident. The afternoon could have ended in mere tragedy, but for his brief meeting with Jed Parry. Unknown to Joe, something passes between them – something that gives birth in Parry to an obsession so powerful that it will test to the limits Joe’s beloved scientific rationalism, threaten the love of his wife Clarissa and drive him to the brink of murder and madness.

An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel

It is London, 1970. Carmel McBain, in her first term at university, has cut free of her childhood roots in the north. Among the gossiping, flirtatious girls of Tonbridge Hall, she begins her experiments in life and love. But the year turns. The mini-skirt falls out of style and an era of concealment begins. Carmel’s world darkens, and tragedy waits in the wings.

First Love, Gwendoline Riley

Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place. 

First Love, Last Rites, Ian McEwan

 Taut, brooding, and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness. These tales are as horrifying as anything written by Clive Barker or Stephen King, but they are crafted with a lyricism and intensity that compel us to confront our secret kinship with the horrifying.

The Improbability of Love, Hannah Rothchild

When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting – a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called ‘The Improbability of Love’. Delving into the painting’s past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

The Love Hypothesis, Ali Hazelwood

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive on her way to a happily ever after was always going to be tough, scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting woman, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when he agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire and Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support (and his unyielding abs), their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion.

Love in Colour, Bolu Babalola

Bolu Babalola takes the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in her debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines iconic Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from countries that no longer exist in our world.

A high-born Nigerian goddess feels beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover and longs to be truly seen.

A young businesswoman attempts to make a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.

The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose

Arky Levin, a film composer in New York, has promised his wife that he will not visit her in hospital, where she is suffering in the final stages of a terminal illness. She wants to spare him a burden that would curtail his creativity, but the promise is tearing him apart. One day he finds his way to MOMA and sees Mariana Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

Oddly, I had expected there to be more, and I have only read a few of these too. Actually, I have taught Enduring Love, about a man subject to de Clérambault’s Syndrome, forming intense and instantaneous feelings of love regardless of any lack of evidence or even contact with the subject of that love.

I also thought I might turn again to Shakespeare and think over some of the lovers in his plays. Considering my insistence to my students that Romeo and Juliet are not model lovers, and that marrying someone the day after meeting them is rarely going to end well, I thought I might try to list his lovers whose relationships I prefer – which is not to say that they are any healthier…

Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing)

  • Bickering, witty, completely made for and perfect for each other

Anthony and Cleopatra (Anthony and Cleopatra)

  • Hotheaded, tempestuous, exhausting but you cannot deny the sexual tension rocks!

Rosalind and Orlando (As You Like It)

  • Nothing says true love like running off into a forest to find your partner, even if you are dressed as a boy!

Miranda and Ferdinand (The Tempest)

  • “O brave new world, / That has such people in ’t”

Ganymede (Rosalind) and Phoebe (As You Like It)

  • A little bit under false pretences, but the complexity of Phoebe’s relationship with Rosalind has always intrigued me

Bassanio and Portia (The Merchant of Venice)

  • Problematic? Bassanio appears to view Portia as a meal ticket to clear all his debts, after seeing her glance at him once; Portia gives him a ring, tricks him out of it, and harangues him for faithlessness….

Oberon and Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

  • Again, the feud between these lovers is not great, and the sexual humiliation of Titania with Bottom as an ass is troublesome, but who wouldn’t want a love so powerful that seasons bowed to it?

Hal and Falstaff (Henry IV Part 1 and 2)

  • They definitely would! I might be being swayed by the image of Tom Hiddlestone as Prince Hal in the BBC’s Hollow Crown series.

Have a fantastic Valentine’s Day on the 14th, spend as much time as you can with the one(s) you love and remember my favourite sonnet from Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Sonnet 116

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • February 15: Books Too Good to Review Properly (I have no words!) (Submitted by Dedra @ A Book Wanderer)
  • February 22: Dynamic Duos (Submitted by Elley @ Elley the Book Otter)
  • March 1: Books I Enjoyed, but Have Never Mentioned On My Blog
  • March 8: Books With Your Favorite Trope/Theme (Submitted by
  • March 15: Books On My Spring 2022 TBR
  • March 22: Books With an Adjective In the Title (Submitted by Nicole @ How to Train a Book Dragon)
  • March 29: 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics (Submitted by Lisa of Hopewell)

16 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Love Freebie”

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