Thursday, January 3, 2013
Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Title: Love Story
Author: Jennifer Echols
She's writing about him. he's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..
For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?
Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.
Love Story on Goodreads
I am debating right now between one and two stars for this and I'm hating that I feel I have to rate a Jennifer Echols book so low. I really enjoyed Such a Rush and Going Too Far, so I was expecting to enjoy Love Story too. What a disappointment this book was! The ONLY reason I have it at two stars instead of one (RIGHT NOW) is because up until the abrupt and terrible ending, I was kind of digging the story and it seemed like things were just about to turn around.
Love Story starts off slowly. The first dozen or so pages of the book are a story written by the main character, Erin. She's written a bodice ripper of a historical romance between a rich girl on a horse farm and a stable boy. The story is mirrored after her real life, where she's had an unrequited thing for the stable boy (Hunter) since she was 12. Somehow, just as she's presenting her story to her college level creative writing class, that stable boy shows up as a sudden transfer. He reads the story and realizes it's about him and then... stuff happens.
After Hunter realizes the story is about him, he then starts writing these really awful and wacky stories that are supposedly all about Erin. His stories are supposedly so sexy (according to all their classmates), but I found them terrible. Hunter basically writes stories about how he's having sex with all these random people (a drunk girl at a party, a fortune teller, etc).
Erin has a tragic past that isn't really even worth getting in to here. Because of this, she has lived with her grandmother on a Kentucky race horse farm. Her grandmother insisted that she major in business to take over the farm. Erin didn't want to. When Erin decides to major in something else, her grandmother basically disowns her in the most fucked up way possible. On the night of Erin's graduation, her grandmother takes her in to her office where Hunter is waiting. Grandma then proceeds to tell Erin that Hunter is getting her inheritance, her college fund, and will be taking over the horse farm. If that's not enough, Grandma also completely cuts off all support from Erin, including health insurance, so that Erin has to work a bunch of hours at a coffee shop to barely make ends meet. Erin is so dirt poor she can't afford to eat anything but ramen noodles and peanut butter/crackers.
Wow, what a nice grandmother!
And the thing is, Erin isn't even upset at Hunter. She makes a few vague comments about him stealing her inheritance, but most of the book is her whining about how much she's in love with him, or being jealous because he's flirting with someone else.
We find out at some point that Hunter is not actually a business major, as he was supposed to be in order to run the horse ranch. In fact, he is pre-med and states he is lying to Erin's grandmother in order to get a free education. Erin doesn't seem upset by this. In fact, she praises him for it.
Erin's classmates tore apart her historical romance, so she begins writing stories about her childhood, which they supposedly like better. Her teacher, Gabe, starts praising her work highly and telling her how talented she is. Erin doesn't want to run the horse ranch. She loves the horses, but she wants to be a romance writer. That's her dream. Supposedly she's pretty good at it.
There is even this whole conversation between Erin and Hunter where they talk about how horses are "in her blood" and she even states that people in novels always use that as an excuse to force characters in to doing stuff they don't want to do. She realizes that, and then Echols uses it to force Erin back to the horse ranch? Seriously?
Hunter lies to Erin, telling her that her dad will be at the farm, in order to get her to go back for a visit. I don't know why this would get Erin to go back. Her dad BEAT her mom and was part of the catalyst that caused her mom's death. Why in the world would she want to go see him?
It ends up not mattering, as it was all a manipulative lie in order to get Erin back to the farm. I don't even know WHY we had to get Erin back to the farm. I was expecting some kind of show down with her grandmother that never comes. Instead, Erin stays with Hunter's dad in Hunter's room (while Hunter stays in Erin's old room in the mansion). It makes no sense.
While on that trip home, Erin overhears a conversation between her grandmother and Hunter. In this conversation, it's revealed that her grandmother knows Hunter is pre-med. She sent Hunter to that college so that he could manipulate Erin in to being a business major again.
Erin is, obviously, upset by this betrayal. So, she does what any normal girl in this situation would do. She doesn't confront Hunter, she has sex with him. Totally normal, right?
After they have sex, she still doesn't confront him. She snuggles with him and is all 'in love' or something. Then they go to creative writing class where the story she had written before the trip is read and discussed. The story is about Erin losing her virginity to a complete jerk that she and Hunter both knew from back home. Hunter flips his shit and starts screaming at her in front of the whole class. The teacher takes the two of them back to his office where they have it out, sort of.
The teacher then acts like a therapist for them as they discuss all their romantic problems. It's weird. The teacher also tells Erin that she hasn't got a chance in hell at the internship she has been working for and, in a way, tells her she's not cut out to be a writer. How did we go from Erin being the most talented writer in the class to Erin should give up writing and run home with her tail tucked between her legs?
Right after that, Erin wakes up and Hunter is in her room packing her stuff. He tells her she needs to go home and see her grandmother. She simply says okay. Then the book ends.
What the heck? Where is the rest? I feel like this is an unfinished book and that ending infuriated me. I don't demand all loose ends be tied up, but the MAIN CONFLICTS of this story are the Erin/grandmother relationship which is NEVER resolved in any way and the Erin/Hunter relationship which seems like it's on the brink of being resolved, but the book suddenly ends.
From the previous Echols' novels I've read, I've noticed she has a tendency for rushed endings, but at least all her other books HAD an ending. This one leaves every major conflict in the story open. It also implies that Erin has to give up her dream of being a writer and go back to running the horse ranch.
Every character in this book was just so unlikable. Hunter does some pretty manipulative and deplorable stuff to Erin, but we're supposed to like him because he is in love with her? He 'stole' her inheritance, conspired behind her back with her grandmother to manipulate her in to giving up her dream and doing something she doesn't want for the rest of her life, he flat out lies to her on multiple occasions to get her to do things she doesn't want to do... he sounds like a real stand up guy! He also doesn't seem to be able to apologize for all his shit behavior. Instead, he runs around acting like he's in charge of Erin, like he gets to say what she can and can't do. HE is mad at HER because of some stupid shit in high school (omg, people made fun of him for being a stable boy! poor hunter!).
Erin's grandmother has zero redeeming qualities. I think Echols wants us to think grandma is tough as nails on the exterior, but inside is a nice sweet person... but we NEVER MEET HER to find any of this out. We get a few snippets, like Hunter claiming that grandma was really upset when Erin is in the hospital after getting hit by a car. Other than about 2-3 sentences where Hunter claims something nice about the grandmother, we get nothing.
Erin herself is just so off the wall. I don't understand her feelings or motivations. Hunter basically acts like an awful person, has stolen her inheritance, has lied to her, has manipulated her... but because he's so hot and makes her legs turn to jelly when he touches her, all that bad behavior is okay? Because she's in love with him? WHY is she in love with him? Because he wrote a story about making a solar system and watching her ride a horse? Because he writes stories about fucking all sorts of random girls to make her jealous?
Sorry, but this book is a total miss. Maybe I was expecting too much after enjoying several of Echols' other books? I don't know. But this one was terrible. When I finish reading a romance, I like to feel happy at the end, not infuriated or confused. Love Story needed 2-3 more chapters. It needed actual conflict resolution.
2 out of 5 stars.
Link to Kala's review on Goodreads: