Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-256675-1
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Wrong to Need You is part of Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, which is about the Kanes and the Chandlers going all mean on one another. I am not even going to work out the convoluted family history because it seems like everyone is either related or boinking in this story, making the whole thing resemble a disturbing kind of family reunion in areas where you either have to choose between cornholing the livestock or a family member.
Jackson Kane is back in town on his big-ass bike, to of course bump into Sadia Ahmed, a woman whom he’d a history with before he had to decamp due to being framed for some kind of crime. Incidentally, the author makes some fuss about Sadia being bisexual, but considering that she’s slobbering over a guy here, I suppose that bisexual mention is just a tick on the diversity checklist that everyone is so into these days. I’d think the whole bisexual thing would be more impactful if Jackson had been a Jacqueline here, but I suppose you can only be this much woke without actually threatening the status quo. Anyway, there is a brat thing, lots of posturing, plenty of rehashing the past, and some sex scenes that lead to orgasms and more brooding.
I mean, here’s the thing. Sure, Sadia married Jackson’s brother in his absence (don’t ask; long story), but she’s now a widow. He’s single. There is really nothing to stop them from having sex right there and then, with the story coming to a happy ending at page 100 at most. But because this is a full length novel, the characters have to fill up space by brooding, whining, and oh my god rehashing their past so often that I wonder whether these people are better off seeing a shrink.
Sadia is supposed to be this insatiable town bicycle that likes taking it everywhere, but she spends more time in this story acting like it is somehow impossible to wiggle her rear end at Jackson and invite him to hop on for a ride. It’s the same with Jackson. I’m told so many times that he’s always loved her, but… it is somehow taboo, impossible, forbidden to have sex with her by page 10 and close the story by page 50. We all know the real reason why these two can’t stop whining and brooding – the word count has to be met, or the author’s editor will throw a fit – but that doesn’t change the fact that this entire story is ridiculous.
Everyone speaks and acts in overblown melodrama. They don’t just give you the middle finger, they will shriek that they will DESTROY YOU as if they’re that angry emo Jack person from Mass Effect. Sadia and Jackson constantly use every single angst and self-blame as a dramatic excuse as to why, despite the fact that they may be bumping uglies during those times when they are too tired of all that moping, they can never, ever be together. You’d think they have mutant genitalia, deadly STDs, or something from the way they are going on and on, but no, it’s just two hot, able-bodied people to whom there is no reason too minor to flail their arms over and drape in pessimistic hyperbole.
Meanwhile, there are many family members that show up, sometimes without any prior introduction, that I can only wonder whether any reader who has not been following the author religiously will be able to track what is going on. These characters act as props to cheer the main characters on, reassure them that they are totally right for one another, or serve as excuse for more of these two mopey-faces’ brooding session.
Wrong to Need You, at the end of the day, has all the emotional resonance of a story written by an angst-filled teenager who believes that there is no such thing as too much melodrama, even if the end result has very little resemblance to how modern day people will normally speak, think, or behave. If you like stories that are all “angst leads to sex leads to more angst, OOH WE BE BROODING NOW!”, then this one may do the trick. Me, I think I’m too old for all this chest-thumping nonsense.