Book Review: A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman

A Virtual Love by Andrew BlackmanA Virtual Love: What it is about

The publishers say: “For Jeff Brennan, juggling multiple identities is a way of life. Online he has dozens of different personalities and switches easily between them. Offline, he shows different faces to different people: the caring grandson, the angry eco-protester, the bored IT consultant.

So when the beautiful Marie mistakes him for a famous blogger, he thinks nothing of adding this new identity to his repertoire. But as they fall in love and start building a life together, Jeff is gradually forced into more and more desperate measures to maintain his new identity, and the boundaries between his carefully segregated personas begin to fray.

In a world where truth is a matter of perspective and identities are interchangeable, Jeff finds himself trapped in his own web of lies. How far will he go to maintain his secrets? And even if he wanted to turn back, would he be able to?”

A Virtual Love: What I thought

I spend a lot of time on the internet and have many accounts on social networks and other internet places. As there are only three people (as far as I know) with my name, and the other two don’t seem to spend much time online, people who google for me will find me easily in all my incarnations.

In A Virtual Love, Marie mistakes a young man she meets, for a famous blogger that she’s an awe of. Not surprising, because they are both called Jeff Brennan. The “fake” Jeff is in fact a blogger himself with many online identities, and he’s excited that a nice girl like Marie would look up to him and think him a famous blogger. So he plays along. But he’s forever in fear that she’ll find out and reject him.

The book is written in an interesting form: the first person relating their story to a second person, “you”. Several different people tell their story to a “you” who isn’t actually present. Example: “I remember looking up at you in surprise. It was the first thing you’d said in almost an hour […]” (page 21). Since the “I” and “you” differ in each chapter, it sometimes takes a page or so before I realised which two people were involved in the chapter. I enjoyed picking up the clues from the context to work this out.

Marie and the grandfather of Jeff Brennan (the fake blogger) are the “goodies” in the story while there are also some good-old “baddies”. Marie was rather naïve in believing her Jeff was the famous blogger, even if he never wanted to discuss the content of “his” blogs with her, but aren’t first impressions always the hardest to undo?

The story builds up nicely and the fake Jeff gets into a pickle that he finds impossible to escape from. Help comes from a unexpected side.

Generally a believable story. I especially loved the visits that Jeff (and later Marie, too) make to Jeff’s grandparents every Sunday.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 256

First published: 2013

I got this: from Legend Press for review via Netgalley (eboook)

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extra: An interview with the writer in Writing Magazine

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

6 Responses to Book Review: A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman

  1. Parrish says:

    Enjoyed this book & like yourself I’ve had multiple identities on the Internet over the years, even the name Parrish Lantern is not my own but taken from a character from a book, so I could identify with this to a certain extent. But Marie, by god was she naive, to say love is blind is one thing, but also stupid?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Gary, yes, Marie was naive, but as I said in the review, first impressions are so important. Her first (ever) impression of Jeff was that he was THE Jeff Brennan, so she tried to fit all other information she got about him around this fact. I thought it was convincing to a degree. Although I do think she should have wondered a bit more about Jeff’s disinterest in the topics that Jeff wrote about in his blog.

  2. I will have to read the book. It seems that this is an underlying fear of many: to be discovered for whom you really are. The context of the Internet is so recognizable. I guess first impressions are based on what we are searching for in people–wishful thinking. Thanks, nice review, it peaked my interest.

  3. Monika says:

    Interesting premise! Your review makes me want to check it out.

  4. Charlie says:

    I liked this book a lot, too, and thought similarly about Marie. She is very naive and yet I suppose her awe was so great that she didn’t stop to really think. I loved the vast differences of the voices, and the grandfather was great. I found those scenes in particular made me stop and think, even if I don’t ‘need’ those conversations with my own grandparents.

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