And I’m not talking about the good kind of worn out—the “Oh, this book was so emotional that I have a book hangover” kind of worn out. Emma Scott books give me THAT kind of feeling. No, I’m talking about a “Oh, Jesus, when will the angst END” kind of worn out.
This book didn’t work for me on several different levels. Here’s why (takes a deep breath)...
Marley annoys the crap out of me. The whole “Oh, I love Vinny but I have to marry his brother (because REASONS) but I’m going to keep leading Vinny on” thing got real old REAL fast. And just because Lloyd, the fiance, is an asshole, that doesn’t make it OK for Marley to cheat on him with Vinny. Neither does the fact that her love with Vinny was so “epic.” Cheating is never OK. And the push and pull she had going on with Vinny was sickening. She’d use him to forget the situation she was in—the situation SHE PUT HERSELF IN—and kept making him feel like he had a chance, even though she always planned to marry Lloyd.
I won’t spoil anything, but the villains in this story have absolutely zero depth. They are so cartoonish that I expected them to tie Marley to train tracks at any moment while they twirled their mustaches, um, villainously. I’m guessing they were depicted the way they were to make Marley’s deplorable actions seem justified, but it didn’t work for me. It just smacked of lazy writing.
Sex that isn't with the hero
I don’t read romance so that I can read sex scenes between the heroine and a dude who isn’t the hero. (And of course, while she was having sex with a dude who wasn’t the hero, she was thinking of the hero the entire time, which is just gross and makes me hate her more.)
While I generally didn’t hate Vinny (he was a former addict who was trying and doing a decent job of rebuilding his life), I didn’t care for the way he treated Bethany, the girl he was casually banging while dreaming of someday reuniting with Marley. I also didn’t care for his comments about Marley being the “best pussy he’d ever had.” It made my inner feminist scream for Vinny’s balls on a spike, frankly.
Also, while I don’t personally have too many reading triggers, I do feel compelled to point out (since the author didn’t) that there’s a scene—a rather graphic scene—in which Marley’s biological father tries to rape her. I think if there’s rape and incest in ROMANCE NOVELS there should be a trigger warning.
So, long-story-short, while this wasn’t a poorly written book and I was able to finish it, I can’t say I’d recommend to anyone looking for a good love story between two likeable characters. The best I can say is...well, I think Marley and Vinny deserve each other.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s not really stigma-y, it’s just not a good romance.
Other reading suggestions
For angst done right, check out Emma Scott.
For better reading options, try these: