In Love Story, Jennifer Echols crafts a sexy tale of star-crossed love and forbidden romance. The class assignments sprinkled throughout the text are an innovative and enjoyable way of recounting Erin and Hunter's shared history, showing readers how they arrived at this complicated juncture. Though the salacious elements in the initial assignments seem a little gratuitous for an intro level college course, the stories improve drastically over the course of the novel. The most powerful stories are the truest ones, showing the tragedy and loss that made them who they are today and revealing insightful parallels between Erin's own story and that of her mother. The Kentucky horse racing lifestyle also comes alive through these stories, though most of the novel is set in New York City, and is crucial to understanding the complex dynamic between the former heiress and her stable boy.
Still, at times it was difficult to connect with Erin. She began the novel seeming proud and judgmental, then digressed into insecurity about her relationship with Hunter and the future of her writing career. Her tendency to jump to the worst conclusion and then act impulsively on that assumption quickly became exasperating. However, her willingness to strike out on her own was admirable, and her relationship with her grandmother will hit home for anyone who's fought their family for control of their own life. Hunter, on the other hand, is a much more compelling character. He possesses that classic southern charm which is so hard to resist, though he can sometimes be a little too controlling in his drive to rescue the damsel in distress -- coming off more macho than gentlemanly. Nonetheless, the mystery of his true nature and motivations will intrigue readers as they puzzle out how the smitten little boy became the aloof young man.
Unfortunately, the stories -- while steamy -- are an immature way to work out deep-rooted problems. Things begin to look promising when Erin and Hunter finally assess their relationship, rather than toying with each other, but an unfortunate twist sends them spiraling off course again. They refuse to confront or even acknowledge the issue, and their failure to communicate and willingness to manipulate one another feels more like lust than love, making it difficult to believe in a happy ending. Despite the magnitude of the situation, Erin fails to have a believable emotional response, instead making self-destructive and irrational decisions that are never acknowledged by her or the novel itself -- ultimately leaving me uncomfortable about their entire relationship.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel from the publicist. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hits shelves tomorrow! Click here to purchase Love Story by Jennifer Echols.
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