Book Reviews

Review: Love at First Set by Jennifer Dugan

We love a messy situation and Love at First Set has that plus a perfect disastrous meet cute. From Dugan, this adult romance debut is a blend of charismatic characters and swoony feelings. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


The gym is Lizzie’s life—it’s her passion, her job, and the only place that’s ever felt like home. Unfortunately, her bosses consider her a glorified check-in girl at best, and the gym punching bag at worst.

When their son, Lizzie’s best friend James, begs her to be his plus one at his perfect sister Cara’s wedding, things go wrong immediately, culminating in Lizzie giving a drunken pep talk to a hot stranger in the women’s bathroom—except that stranger is actually the bride-to-be, and Lizzie has accidentally convinced her to ditch her groom.

Now, newly directionless Cara is on a quest to find herself, and Lizzie—desperate to make sure her bosses never find out her role in this disaster—gets strong-armed by James into “entertaining” her. Cara doesn’t have to know it’s a setup; it’ll just be a quick fling before she sobers up and goes back to her real life. After all, how could someone like Cara fall for someone like Lizzie, with no career and no future?

But the more Lizzie gets to know Cara, the more she likes her, and the more is on the line if any of her rapidly multiplying secrets get out. Because now it’s not just Lizzie’s job and entire future on the line, but also the girl of her dreams.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

If you’ve ever been afraid to take the first real step towards your dream, Love at First Set is for you. For Lizzie she’s been dreaming of owning her own gym, but making the first move is terrifying. But when things come to a head, through a series of bad decisions and timings, Lizzie has to figure out what she is willing to do. Not only for her career dreams, but for her family, her friends, and her own budding feelings.

The mother daughter relationship in Love at First Set broke my heart. It’s about the people who are supposed to support us and the hold they have on us. The momentous and kind of disastrous meet cute is an example of the ways in which a strangers words can sometimes ring truer than they know. How there’s a way of distilling the complexities and hesitations into something simpler and straightforward.

Another integral piece of Love at First Set is the differences in economic flexibility and privilege between Lizzie and Cara. It means that certain chances are even possible for Cara that Lizzie could never attain. That there isn’t a safe place for Lizzie to land. It’s a crucial piece to understanding Lizzie and what she is willing to sacrifice and fight for. Love at First Set is a charming and emotional romance story which has two people on the precipice of something, but being unsure about taking that leap.

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Lizzie’s story is emotional in the ways that she has to see her own value. The reasons why people love her, want to be around her, and support her. It’s one of the hardest life lessons for anyone to learn. And it’s something we have to keep reminding ourselves. That life becomes about our chosen family, the ones who support us when we’re down, and sees us for who we truly are. Find Love at First Set on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


Who is your favorite character who loves to spend time in the gym?

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