Memoir Coward of Love by Cooper Canon gives a refreshingly honest and humorous account of someone who has never won in the dating game.

By Anne Cater

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Intriguingly described as ‘A tale of love, lust and everything in between’, Coward of Love is a frank memoir that invites readers to accompany the author on a heartfelt expedition through his various relationships and encounters with the opposite sex.

Author Cooper Canon divides his life story into seven sections, all themed around what he perceives to be his biggest failing: the lack of a meaningful romantic relationship.

As he relates in the first section, ‘Beginnings’, he has always felt on his own, even from his earliest days when, he says, he received no worldly words of wisdom or guidance from his parents.

Such advice could, he believes, may well have helped him better navigate the road to romance in the years to come.

Being naturally shy and unassuming, and having to steer this ship alone, his adventures to find the perfect soulmate therefore prove less than satisfactory.

While his friends pair off at high school, he remains by himself. Nicknamed ‘Grunger’ due to his long hair and his love of guitar music, he recognises that not being down with the cool kids in such a tough social environment – where conformity is king – means that it’s no surprise that he struggles to get a date.

On to university and Cooper’s luck hasn’t changed. Not having had the benefit of experience, he admits that he tends to become infatuated with a person, falling almost instantly in love, and then have his heart broken when his feelings are not reciprocated.

By his late twenties, Cooper is still a virgin and feeling very depressed about it, being ashamed of his losing streak.

With this constantly weighing on his mind, during a trip to Amsterdam for a stag do he decides to take advantage of the city’s licensed red light district, encouraged by a friend.

The realisation that he can pay to fulfil his needs appeals, replacing the risk of rejection or scorn with a forgone certainty.

For the next few years, this becomes the author’s default option. He makes clear that this isn’t something that he is proud of, or which he endorses, but was done purely out of desperation.

Despite this, the purely transactional nature of these on-the-clock dalliances leaves him yearning true companionship all the more.

The problem is that his shyness has never lessened while his sense of self-worth has continued to plummet, making it even more difficult to put himself forward or take the initiative.

Yes, there are dates but mostly with terms attached such as ‘just for a drink’ or ‘just as friends’.

Coward of Love by Cooper Canon
In Coward of Love, Cooper Canon invites readers to accompany him on a heartfelt expedition through the landscapes of love, laughter, and self-discovery.

By his early thirties, he spends the majority of his free time in the local village pub, pining after the barmaids and encouraged by their approachable demeanour, which at the time he fails to see is just them doing their job.

He goes so far as to ask a barmaid to marry him, jokingly at first but then actually starting to believe the joke, only to learn that she already has a boyfriend.

During lockdown in 2020, and with all pubs temporarily closed, Cooper decides to focus on his health and joins an online fitness class run by a female friend.

Inevitably, he falls for her, but this time there’s hope as she has just broken up with her boyfriend.

Though he tends to get tongue-tied in person, Cooper is able to set the foundations for a relationship through text messages and when the curfew is lifted a few months later they arrange to meet.

They enjoy an intimate night together and things seem to be progressing the right way, with Cooper buying Christmas and Valentine gifts for her.

Ultimately, however, it all comes crashing down when she says that she is in a bad place and needs to cool things, leaving Cooper more confused and distraught than ever.

The final chapter, ‘Hope’, picks up the story some time later when a band night at the local leads to the author striking up a fast friendship with the promise of more.

They certainly seem like a couple to onlookers and shared activities such as a swim in the sea and a film night with pizza encouraged Cooper to hope for more.

A few weeks later, they have a proper date at a hotel in London. This is where the story ends, with them walking arm-in-arm at the end of the night, readying to say their goodbyes.

Cooper doesn’t say how things pan out from here, but that’s not the point of this recollection. What is important to him is that for the first time in his life, he has been in the company of a woman without feeling awkward.

In fact, he has felt completely at ease, with them enjoying a cosy evening marked by good conversation and laughter. Coming from such a low point, this meant the world to him and had such a lasting impression that he even got her name tattooed on his arm.

Speaking to the reader, Cooper says he’s decided to close his memoir here as he’s “a sucker for a happily ever after, and this is the nearest to that in my life”.

And who would begrudge him that. Coward of Love makes clear that the author has suffered greatly from his lack of confidence, and he should be commended for having the bravery to open up about it.

So what do we get from reading the book? Cooper is clearly a likeable guy and he writes in a conversational way with a nice line in self-deprecating humour. There are, indeed, some laugh-out moments, and you’re laughing with the author, which is important.

This stops things devolving into a pity party, and you come away from his sorry story feeling for him, especially because he’s fully aware of his own lack of skills in the dating game.

Cooper constantly questions himself. It is how he looks, or the way that he speaks? Is it because he is just too nice?

Compared to his friends, he certainly seems so, and he expresses outrage in the way that some blatantly treat women as objects yet have no shortage of girlfriends. 

The bottom line is that it is certainly refreshing to read a tell-all memoir by a man that is not littered with bedpost trophies or idle boasts.

Coward of Love, then, provides a rare insight into the mindset of someone who is anything but the alpha male, and will prove of interest to anyone who wants to hear about romance from the other side of the track.

Coward of Love by Cooper Canon is out now on Amazon, priced £9.99 in paperback and £2.99 as an eBook. For more information, visit


Q&A Interview With Cooper Canon

We speak to Coward of Love author Cooper Canon to find out more about his book and hard lessons learned about dating.

Q. What inspired you to write a book about your personal experiences with love and dating?

A. Initially, during one of the covid lockdowns I was wanting to find something to occupy and anchor me. This was also a matter that had nagged at me for a number of years that I felt the need to address. It was uncomfortable yet the global situation had presented me with the time to sit down and attempt to root out the source. It was my hope that this endeavour would grant me clarity on all that preceded it. I was quite unprepared for what it would actually entail!

Q. Can you share a bit about the writing journey you went through in turning your personal experiences into a book? Was it a cathartic or painful experience?

A. I found writing Coward of Love to be both cathartic and painful. Reliving certain moments again gave a stark realisation of how I perceived certain situations compared to what they actually were. Upon finishing particular parts I was in tears, in places from having to relive the experiences in the moment and from the supposed benefit of hindsight. Equally, I finished other parts and breathed deeply, genuinely relieved, committing a certain passage to paper and feeling I had a better understanding and could finally put it to bed.

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from Coward of Love?

A. The importance of honesty in dating. I also hope my well-meaning intentions comes across, even if for me, at least, it has come to naught. The book has its highs and lows, which I feel are conveyed in a manner that is very relatable with no stone unturned in retelling the tale.

Q. Were there any specific moments or relationships that were particularly challenging to revisit and write about?

A. Yes. Three of them. Upon reading Coward of Love it’s probably quite obvious which three I mean. One because of the length of time I’d known them for and how sorry I was when she was still with a partner who cheated on her regularly. What then happened between us took a tremendous amount of resolve to put to paper and, in truth, I realised I had perhaps lied to myself about it. One of the other relationships was the reverse; I feel I had been lied to. Finally, and the one that is afforded the largest part of the book, is about someone I’d known for a very short span of time yet to this day for my part would happily grow old and die with because she actually seemed to care and made me feel life was worth living.

Q. In reflecting on your past experiences, what do you think were some of the biggest lessons you have learned about love and relationships?

A. The absolute lesson I have learned is to be more direct. I’m very honest but not, it transpires, direct. Or, more to the point, I’m honest after the fact, as I always fear directness and honesty will only cost me what little I have shared with others. It might only draw proceedings to a close sooner, however in some instances that would have saved everyone a lot of time and hurt.

Q. How do you think your experiences might resonate with other readers who have also faced challenges in their love lives?

A. I hope positively for the most part. Anyone who reads the book and is reminded of challenges they have faced will be able to relate, although they may have chosen very different directions to me when in a similar situation. There are humorous parts and parts where readers might ask what made me think that was the best option. There’s a lot to digest and I would hope the emotional content conveys that we all need to be kinder yet truthful to one another.

Q. Looking back, if you could give your younger self one piece of advice about love and relationships, what would it be?

A. Don’t be afraid. For years I have lived in fear of rejection and it’s touched on in Coward of Love in greater detail. My fear of rejection in the past has paralysed me from proceeding with any course of action – even engaging in basic conversation, which obviously hinders any form of progress.

Q. You’re currently working on another book, this time a sci-fi novel. Can you tell us more?

A. It’s a complete labour of love and escapism for me. The whole story is mapped out, with the characters, locations, and major plot points all there. I might never finish it but the creative freedom of having my own little world I can add to as and when, and it being purely for my enjoyment, is something I cherish.