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If Only (If Only... series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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1) Aberdeen, Scotland. IF ONLY brought Aberdeen to life in a way that made me want so desperately to travel back in time to my college days so that I could travel abroad. This is the rare book that made me envy the characters. I too wanted hang out at the Blue Lantern, and take classes in a building that looks like a castle, drink cider, and have a cool flatmate from Greece. Oh and of course, meet a hot guy on a train (or two). This book captured Aberdeen, the travel abroad experience, and the college time period more broadly so perfectly - and truly, it did so in a way that made me tear up with envy and nostalgia and all sorts of warm, fuzzy feels.
2) Jordan Brooks, the main character. She's crazy smart and super witty, but she makes some mistakes in the love department - and really, who doesn't, especially while in college? The character rang so true to me, though, because the types of mistakes and assumptions she makes mirror precisely some of my own romance errors during that time period. I just thought the book so perfectly captured what it's like to fall in and out of love during this time of life, with all the accompanying self doubts, worries about the future, feelings of jealousy, concerns regarding ex girlfriends, and overall misunderstandings.
3) The love interests: Noah and Griffin. SWOON! In particular, I had a huge crush on Noah. But what I loved about this book was at about 50% through it, it occurred to me that Jordan could possibly end up with either guy - it could go either way. That is, this wasn't one of those cliche, you-know-exactly-who-she'll-end-up-with-from-page-one kind of books. Sure, I had a strong idea who she'd end up with early on, but both characters were written so well, and were so worthy, that I really did feel it could go either way. Shortly after the 50% mark it became clear that one guy in particular was Jordan's destiny, but i still loved following the journey and seeing how they eventually did end up together. And the ending was perfection. (sexy perfection, more specifically)
Overall, I loved it!
This book falls into the category of a sweet, NA novel. While sex is thought about constantly ( or at least Jordan's 2+ years dry spell) I find it amazing that two, different, college-age, American boys are willing to postpone the experience and cuddle instead. Not just once, but for weeks on end. It must have something to do with the climate in Scotland!
I love and can relate to the heroine, Jordan Brooks. Both my parents were teachers so I know what it's like to be an English major whose parents hope you join the family business. I'm not sure how her family affords all their foreign travel and think more needed to be addressed about Jordan working to afford her European experience. I'd also like to know why Jordan is so hard on herself and always takes the blame when other characters are far from blameless. There has to be a story there somewhere.
Griffin is dreamy, and I had a hard time reading about his awesomeness while knowing--even though he and Jordan are a couple for almost half the book--things don't work out, and he's the main character for book #2. There were times that I wanted to stop reading this book and skip ahead to his story since I liked him so much.
Noah? Just no. He's not my hero. The author tries too hard to tell us he is a nice guy, but what she shows us is completely different. Near the end, when Noah says, "I'm done being an a$$ hole," I want to believe him, but I just can't. I've been on the roller coaster ride he puts Jordan through, and I'm not as forgiving as she is.
Their conflict frustrates the hell out of me. You'd think once Noah gets the balls to end the relationship with Hailey, it will finally be smooth sailing, but NO. It turns into the season of FRIENDS when Ross and Rachel argue about an incident that took place while they were "taking a break." Noah, playing the part of Rachel, is NOT a pretty sight, and no matter what he does to redeem himself, I'm stuck with that image in my head.
Hopefully, as the series progresses, we may revisit Jordan and Noah and see how their relationship strengthens and their commitment holds, Jordan has far more faith in Noah than I do. I'll be hooking up with Griffin on his adventure instead!
I am amazed that this is A.J. Pine's first novel; her writing is exquisite. I hope there is a second, and maybe, if it happens, it will focus on a certain male character who deserves his own happy ending.
I rarely reread books but I will reread this one so I can fall in love with the characters all over again. From laughter to tears, to frustrated sighs, this book was worth all of the emotional commitment I gave it.
Altogether, an excellent start in what promises to be this talented author's altogether lovely career.
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I really really really enjoyed this book. I was surprised that this was a debut novel.Read more
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