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I Know That Lots of People Will LOVE This Book, But . . .
on May 3, 2012
I know that there will be a lot of people who love this book. A lot. And that's okay, and even understandable with J.Lynn's wonderful writing talent. But this one fell a bit flat for me. I downloaded this book right away as soon as I found out that Jennifer Armentrout was releasing this book under the name J. Lynn. I absolutely love Armentrout's young adult paranormal books. Her writing style pulls me in always, so I was eager to check out this move into an adult contemporary romance genre. What I found was a nice enough romance, but there was little in it to differentiate itself from any other token adult contemporary book found on the market today.
This is basically the story of Madison, who has been in love with her older brother's best friend Chase forever. However, she believes that he doesn't look at her as anything more than his friend's kid sister. At this point everyone is in their mid to late twenties, so they are all grown up and in successful careers, still great friends as they've always been . . . mostly. The book begins as Madison is heading to a remote resort to attend her brother's wedding. She is the maid of honor and Chase is the best man. The entirety of this book takes place during this wedding weekend as Madison and Chase come together, then run apart, then come together, then run apart, and on and on and on. You get the picture. Madison secretly pines for Chase. Chase secretly pines for Madison. As can be typical in these sorts of stories, no one bothers to come right out and say what they are feeling. Feelings get hurt. Apologies ensue. Rinse and repeat. Until the magical happily ever after, of course.
This is a very quick read. For the most part it is a fairly enjoyable read. It seems like the perfect book to grab for a day at the beach. So I would definitely recommend it for that sort of outing. The writing is the kind that I expect from Armentrout with characters who are fairly likeable and a story that keeps me reading in order to make sure that the main couple find their happy ending. However, there were some serious problems that I encountered as I read that kept me from loving this book. First of all I didn't care for the way that the relationship between Maddie and Chase was written. I felt like there needed to be a lot more tension. I kept reading about how the two of them had always been great friends, even though Maddie had mostly filled the hang-along little sister role for most of those years. But there was never any real indication of this attachment at all through the actual dialogue of the book. I wanted better conversation between these two. I don't mind bickering and stuff like that, but I needed to see more of a real connection between Chase and Maddie so that I could pull for them as a couple. Instead I was given scene after scene after scene of the explicit daydreams that Chase had about Maddie and Maddie pining for Chase silently. It seemed as if the only time that the two of them ever had moments that seemed real and authentic, where I could feel the bond between them, conversation went out the window. They never talked. They just kissed a lot. A lot. So I know there will be tons of people that love that about this book. I just needed a lot more emotional bonding as well so that I could be invested in this relationship. Otherwise as a reader it seemed to be a purely superficial relationship.
The pacing of the book felt a little off for me as well. There was no real build up in tension between Chase and Maddie. Of course, Maddie was desperately hoping that Chase would see her as more than just a friend. I understood that she wanted to have a real romantic relationship with Chase. But because Chase and Maddie couldn't keep their hands off one another whenever they found themselves alone in close proximity to one another I never felt the tension that can make books like this exciting. A bit existed, but not enough to make this book one that kept me hooked. And then toward the end there is a big misunderstanding (of course) that drives the two of them apart. First of all, I have a huge problem with big misunderstandings that occur because two adults who are supposedly supposed to be made for each other can't take two minutes out of their day to talk to each other and express their irritations. Just talk to each other! But this is a very common plot device in romance novels, so I find myself reading things like this all the time. Most of the time I just grit my teeth and power through that part of the book, knowing things would work out in the end. In this one however, I was so angry with Maddie's actions and Chase's reaction to it that it almost derailed my experience while reading. Having said that, I know that that is simply my personal feelings about these sorts of situations, so many other readers will not react as strongly against it as I did. But with a big misunderstanding such as that I knew that a resolution bringing Chase and Maddie back together for good was in the works. What happened just fell flat for me. It didn't come across as romantic as I hoped for. Again, others might not agree with me about this. It could just be that I was still feeling some anger about the entire reason that the two of them were separated in the first place at that point. I don't know. I just hoped for a lot more romance between these two characters.
So this first adult contemporary romance by Jennifer Armentrout, written under the name J. Lynn, didn't work for me. However, I still rate her as one of my absolute favorite writers. It was just this particular book that didn't move me the way I expect when I read her books. I expect that others will find it enjoyable though. It is a quick and engaging book in many ways. I just needed more conversation and romantic buildup. Three stars.