Author: J. Santiago
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: River Grove Books
Length: 296 pages
Original Publishing Date: July 1st, 2014
Where I got it: Netgalley
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website
Synopsis from Goodreads:
LOUISA MAY KNIGHT, THE INTELLECTUAL, AND LEX PELLITERRI, THE SOCCER SUPERSTAR, WERE CHILDHOOD SWEETHEARTS.
Lex, with his irreverent, outgoing personality brought out the fun-loving side of his serious next-door neighbor, Lu. Together they experienced the excitement of first love and shared their dreams for the future—until their well-meaning parents forced them apart.
Now, eight years later, a tragedy brings Lex and Lu back together for the first time. As they deal with the tribulations of the present and the pain of their past, they find themselves undeniably drawn to each other once again. But when Lex discovers the scandalous secret that Lu has been keeping from him, he is crushed under the weight of betrayal. Only
time will tell if Lex and Lu can overcome their tumultuous history, but one
thing is certain—the passion they share will burn forever.
Main characters: 1/5
There is a thin line in fiction that author's need to tread along, in terms of characters. On the one side is having characters that are realistic. Let's be honest, if there is a character that reader's just don't connect to and don't believe is realistic, then that character has failed. However, on the other side is having a character that is likeable. At the end of the day, an author can make a character that is so realistic and hits so many hidden, unlikeable, awful things that humans do that it can make the reader hate that character. And I think that Santiago may have crossed that border with Lex and Lu.
To be honest, most of the time I kind of hated Lex and Lu both. First off, they have a very toxic relationship. Sure, great, they're in love, but it's not the happy kind of love. It's the "both sides are destroyed by this love" love. And that just plain sucks. But I also hated them because they attacked each other and brought up these points about each other that, unfortunately, resonated with me. I was like, yeah! Why is s/he doing that!? What an asshole! Great, right? Both characters were making me hate the other.
Lu is the "smart one", the mature, self-sacrificing child genius who is always described as "old beyond her years". Lex is the vivacious and outgoing soccer star who is dedicated to his talent. Ultimately though, their faults overwhelmed their weaknesses, and although they were well-characterized, I found it hard to appreciate main characters that I detested. Lu was weak and a pushover and Lex was kinda just awful. How can I connect with characters like that?
Secondary characters: 2.5/5
In general, I was split on the main characters. Lex and Lu's mother's, Amber and Jo, are big parts of their lives, and thus are big secondary characters. To be honest, I struggled with liking them as well. You know what they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. They were both incredibly manipulative and it was hard to see why they were friends.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed Lu's sister, Willa, and Lex's brother, Pete. They exemplified characters who were flawed, but grew and developed through the story and were extremely likable. Willa was incredibly strong-willed, stubborn and blunt, while Pete was quiet, caring and kind, sometimes to a fault. Together, they balanced out their siblings and dished out some tough-love when necessary.
Writing style: 2.5/5
For the most part, I was okay with the writing style. It was nothing fancy, and some of the sentences were a little awkward and long-winded. One of the better parts was the dialogue. The dialogue was realistic and flowed well. It gave me a good read on different people's relationships to one another.
My main problem with the writing style was the pacing. There were quite a few times when I got bored because the pacing of the story slowed down, or that I just lost interest in the scene. The story moved slower than it needed to, or lacked the intrigue to keep me moving forward at that breakneck pace that I long for.
I'm torn on the plot. The "surprise" wasn't super surprising but it definitely threw a wrench into the relationship of Lu and Lex and their families. I liked the concept of a hidden secret within two families that are so close, and it is definitely a twist on the "neighbors turned lovers" plot. However, the characters and mediocre writing style were sort of a let down on a concept that could have been cool.
I also felt like not much happened. I know that this is a continuing mantra of mine with realistic romance but I really mean it with this one. There were very few plot points to keep the story moving forward. Instead, it was a lot of discussion about the past and characters sifting through their feelings and questioning their relationships with one another. However, this lack of plot combined with teh slow pacing and the subpar characters made the story move especially slow.
I felt a little jipped. While I thought that Santiago wrapped up the emotions and conflicts as well as could be expected, I can't say that I necessarily agreed with the way that Lex and Lu worked things out. Also, for a novel that moved so slowly through the feelings and deceptions and different emotions about the past, the ending seemed almost a little rushed. It made it hard to comprehend the conclusion of all of the conflict that had happened. I did like how Lu seemed to grow a little bit more of a backbone and take control of her own life more at the end, hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Best scene: The one towards the end where Lu finally explains all her emotions to Lex and tells him how she really feels about everything
Reminded Me Of: The Summer of Skinny Dipping
Positives: Casual and easy-flowing writing style, dialogue, Willa & Pete, the concept
Negatives: The unlikeable characters, the ending, the scarce plot points, the pacing
Cover: This cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love the colors, the background, and the font. The way that the figures fade away is so pretty as well.
Verdict: The concept had the potential to be better, but the characters and pacing fell flat
Rating: 4.0 / 10 (2 stars)
Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!