Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-256676-8
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Evangeline Chandler is an heiress. Gabriel Hunter, twelve years older than her, is her brother’s BFF, and she has always wanted his penis inside her. But to him, she is always a little girl, until she shows up all big-breasted and hot, and he’s like, ooh, he wants his penis inside her too. Sorry if I come off as crude and vulgar here, but I’m just sticking to the tone set by the story – if this turns you off, you have better tread cautiously around this one.
Anyway, back to the angst – as much as he wants to shag our heroine, Gabe will always remember that he’s a tattoo artist and he is also the son of the family housekeeper. Plus, he is the “guardian of a secret that made any union between them complicated as fuck”. I’m not sure how complicated inserting tab A into slot B can be, unless the tab is barbed or curved to such a degree that it can’t be taken out once it’s in, or maybe the person that tab is attached to has every strain of virulent STDs known to humanoids, but that’s the author’s characters for you. I mean, it’s not like they won’t have any unions – they do – it’s that they will whine incessantly about how such unions are unwise incidents to beat themselves over and over because of all kinds of angst and wangst needed to fill up the pages.
I feel like I’m repeating myself when it comes to Hurts to Love You, but it has the same issues as Alisha Rai’s previous two books in the Forbidden Hearts series: the characters are overblown drama queens going on and on like broken records, and I quickly tire of them. This is the 21st century – if these people think that a permanent relationship is not a good idea, then why not a fling? What’s to stop these two single people from just hooking up to cool off the heat between them? Gabe being a housekeeper’s son is such a bizarrely antiquated reason to go all moping weenie over, and all that family thing makes little sense considering how Eve isn’t super close to her family. Even when more personal and hence more believable angst is introduced, it still doesn’t explain why Gabe is the one who makes the most fuss about the pain of his penis being used to make Eve happy, since this angst is hers rather than his. If anything, their roles should be reversed to make this story more believable – he should have been the pursuer, rather than her. As it is, Gabe is a big whiny baby in an alpha male disguise.
The presence of angst alone will not sell a story – the angst has to fit with the characters’ personality and their conflicts, and in Hurts to Love You, angst instead comes off like a contrivance to keep the story going. Diversity alone cannot drag a story to the finish line, not when these diverse characters are defined solely by their repetitive and often overblown whining with little believable personality outside of this tendency to mope when they are not boinking. A good story needs to be a story, not merely overly padded angst and tepid love scenes inserted solely to fill up three hundred plus pages with words.