Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU
Free On KU

The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins


Set in the late 90s, this is a teacher-student romance but written so convincingly that it is not the tiniest bit discomfiting.

Carmen Vaughn is a tenured professor in the political science department of Maryland University.  Her subject is statistics. Carmen comes from a Roman Catholic family and her department is notoriously regressive, so her personal life is strictly under wraps – particularly because she is gay. Carmen has no illusions about what coming out would do to her personal and professional life so she chooses to be quiet about her sexuality and completely professional (and brilliant) at work.

Molly Cook is an activist at heart but has decided to be pragmatic and at almost thirty, she has returned to studies with a goal of doing Phd and then getting into research and academics. But Molly’s natural instinct is to fight for changes and try as she might, this part of her won’t be repressed.

Molly is attracted to Carmen right from the beginning and her natural gift with numbers helps her excel in class. Carmen offers her the position of TA for a semester and Molly is delighted at the thought of spending more time with Carmen. Unwittingly, Molly also discovers Carmen’s best kept secret. Molly promises silence but cannot help hope flaring that the chemistry between them may find an avenue. However, Carmen shies away from that possibility.

While they are navigating their personal attraction and their professional relationship, one homophobic faculty publishes a report with some highly suspect anti-gay findings; new queer-identifying students refuse to disappear into the woodwork and both the women get drawn into unexpected situations.

Molly and Carmen are wonderful characters. It is strange to realise that even in 1997 (which doesn’t seem that long ago), being gay was so tough. Carmen’s character has in interesting arc while life and circumstances make the deeply-closeted lesbian and a closed professor undergo many changes becoming almost the complete opposite by the end of the book.

The relationship is mostly pining and burning, but it is so convincing. The chemistry between Molly and Carmen is awesome and the caring that they have for the other is really special. You cannot but help root for the two of them to get together already.

We love the title which smartly uses a statistical term in the romantic phrase. We thoroughly enjoyed the meticulousness with which the 90s have been written (floppy discs, long distance landline calls, Smashing Pumpkins…that’s just a tiny sample of the perfect details). We loved Carmen’s journey and the romance.

Obviously, we recommend this one.

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