Christina Lauren’s books have become this thing in my life where I’m always excited to read their next book irrespective of what I felt about the previous one. And I frankly have no idea why that is. I can’t say I had a lot of expectations this time but I still ended up a bit disappointed, which is just ughhhh.
This book has the second chance romance trope which is not always my favorite, but can be done really well with a lot of angst. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me well at all in this instance. I’ve had a similar experience with the authors’ previous book with the same trope, Love and Other Words and I just couldn’t connect with the love story at all. Thankfully, the writing is fast paced as always and I breezed through it in just a few hours but I also wanted to skim read it a bit because I wanted to be done. The present timeline of the story is set during a film shoot on a rural farm set and I thought that was quite unique and interesting. There was some fascinating insight into how shoots and table reads work, which I really enjoyed and kept wishing that we had more of those scenes. I think there were many such small moments throughout the book which were lovely and what helped me finish the book, but they all felt disjointed and didn’t work well together as a whole. I think I’ve also come to expect the authors’ books to be a lot of fun and bantery, which was definitely missing here and that may have impacted my reading experience too.
I’m usually okay when the plot doesn’t work if I can connect to the characters and that was my biggest gripe here. Unlike many of my fellow reviewers, I actually liked the flashback storyline. I know it was instalove but I still could believe those moments of instant attraction, the possibility of a romance on a vacation, the fluttery feelings – the newness of it all was captured very beautifully and that’s why the heartbreak felt realistic too.
However, I literally felt nothing in the fourteen years later present timeline. While I could understand how Tate’s life may have been affected drastically due to being in constant spotlight and also being very sheltered while young, but the idea that a one week long fling affected her ability to have healthy relationships for more than a decade just felt so unrealistic. I liked Sam in the past timeline because he was sweet and considerate until everything blew up, but I really didn’t feel much of anything about him in the current timeline because he was such a background presence with not much of a personality. I can give points for nostalgic feelings when you meet your first love after ages, but there was really no buildup to why they were still in love or what they even knew about each other to fall in such a deep relationship so fast.
There were some cool side characters who brought laughs and good feelings to the proceedings but they didn’t leave enough of an impact on me. The only side character I even have an opinion on is Tate’s father who was a douche and I just wish there was some resolution to Tate’s relationship with him. I could totally relate to her desire to have a relationship with him despite his passive aggressive nature, but after giving this subplot so much importance through the end, it’s just left hanging towards the end and I hated it.
At the end, I just want to say that this ended up being a bit boring and not a very enjoyable read. However, I think it’s a very personal thing and you might still like it. If you enjoyed the authors’ Love and Other Words and you are a fan of the second chance romance trope, then this book might be a good choice for you. But if you want to deeply connect to the main characters, it might leave you disappointed. And as usual, I’m already looking forward to the next book by the authors and hoping it’ll be more fun.
PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.