Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Love Story
Jennifer Echols
This is a review of an ARC copy I got in a contemporary romance spending spree (won from the author at a charity auction).
The Premise: Erin grew up in a wealthy environment. She was raised by her grandmother who wanted Erin to major in business so she could take over the family’s racehorse farm one day. When Erin decides instead to follow her dream of being a writer, she’s summarily cut off. Hunter Allen, the son of the stable hand is given Erin’s inheritance and her tuition, while Erin has to work her way through school. Knowing that Hunter will be going to the same New York university is on Erin’s mind, and so for her first assignment in her honors creative writing class she writes a romance between a horse farm heiress and a stable boy. She’s mortified when Hunter joins her class at the last minute and reads her story.  Then he writes his own story, “responding” to hers.  Thus begins a game where the two begin to communicate to one another through their class assignments.
My Thoughts: I loved the premise of the story. It seemed like this was a “boy and girl act like they hate each other but they really like each other” story. What I ended up getting in Love Story was much more complicated than that. I like complexity and depth in my stories, but something here didn’t quite work and I’m having trouble saying what it was. I’m writing this review as I’m sorting through what that missed connection was.
First of all, I am not sure if it was my expectations getting in the way, but I found Erin and Hunter’s interactions a little strange from the get go. When Erin’s story is presented to the creative writing class Erin expects Hunter to make fun of her, but instead she can tell that Hunter is angry and hiding it from the class. His reason for this anger? That either she’s making fun of him, an idea he quickly dismisses since she wouldn’t know he was going to be in her class, or that she must have liked him in middle and high school, but still let the kids there call him her “stable boy”.  It wasn’t easy to follow the jump from secret crush to ‘if you liked me you have should have stopped other kids from making fun of me’ (I’m paraphrasing here) and then actually being angry about this, but I held on. Similarly, Erin’s response to that is that if Hunter can come up with only two explanations for her story, then he is oversimplifying her and this is to make things easier for him to steal her entire life. Another wild jump that I found difficult to follow, and again, I accepted it and continued on.
So I moved on, but I think these hang-ups that Erin and Hunter had about each other clouded the story quite a bit. On one hand I think that we’re seeing the obstacles between Erin and Hunter and the baggage each has from their past, and this baggage must be overcome for them to be together, but on the other hand, I don’t really know about their past history. When they react to each other, as a reader without the history to draw on and having to infer it based on what’s being said, it’s difficult. I don’t have a clue why Erin didn’t talk to Hunter throughout their school years or why Erin is so convinced that Hunter is stealing her life rather than being angry with her grandmother for giving it to him. So when I read their conversations, there’s several times where I’m not sure if the logic is off or I’m just not following a jump the characters have made because of their past history.
I much preferred their relationship when it is not overshadowed by the past. Their tentative relationship that stems from their belonging to the same circle of friends and live in the same dorm is much easier to follow. Everyone else is forming new relationships so when Erin and Hunter aren’t alone, but surrounded by Jørdis, Summer, Manohar, and Brian, things flowed extremely well.  The setting of New York City and dorm life was extremely vivid and believable, and in this setting and restricted to reacting to the present (at least amongst their friends), I liked how things were moving along. Hunter and Erin circle one another within their group of friends, and communicate as if they’re across enemy lines. One of the ways they communicate is through their class assignments and once it becomes known amongst a select few that Hunter and Erin knew each other growing up, their little skirmishes gets an audience that sometimes noses it’s way in.
When Hunter and Erin finally seem to hit a truce, I had high hopes. It seemed like these two were finally admitting their feelings for each other to one another and that they were communicating this. Then one last obstacle gets in the way. Suddenly the story that I thought was ending very satisfactorily was going down the tubes. I think that what aggravated me most about this final misunderstanding and how the main couple acted was the believability factor.  I just couldn’t believe how Erin would react the way she did when it jeopardized what she said over and over was her fervent goal. The drama soured the end of the story for me, and it left me with a feeling of disconnect from the relationship. I wish the book continued a little further past the point it stopped so I could move on from the sour taste, but it does not.
Overall: I feel like I went on a journey with this book. I started with high expectations, had a bit of a bumpy ride while reading it for various reasons, started to love the ending, then did not love the ending. I wanted to love this story and there are many things I liked about it including excellent sense of place (both in New York City and on the horse farm), and an extremely readable writing style, but in the end there were too many things that left me with my feathers ruffled.
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Other reviews:
christina_reads – rocky start, ended up enjoying it
chachic’s book nook – didn’t fall in love with it
the reading date – 3.5 out of 5 stars
La Femme Readers – 4 out of 5 flowers

4 thoughts on “Love Story by Jennifer Echols

  1. I had high hopes for this book because of Going Too Far but didn’t really enjoy reading it as much as I expected. I’m actually thankful that I got a copy from GalleyGrab because at least it’s free. I just wasn’t fully invested in the characters and I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just work through their problems instead of finding new reasons to fight.

    • Yes, I feel exactly the same. I think that was also part of the frustration. Why can’t you talk to each other instead of doing dumb things like writing these stories to be read by the class? And it felt like Erin was capable of being a grown up – she went to NYC by herself and socked away money for school, yet she can’t be a grown up about being mad at Hunter? She has to act out? It didn’t compute.

      • Exactly! It felt like just when I could get into the attraction between the two of them, one does something horrible to pull me out of the story. I just wasn’t invested in the as I’d like. I keep hoping that Jennifor Echols would write something that’s just as good as Going Too Far but I’ve been disappointed so far.

        • Yes, particularly toward the end. If the trajectory of the story had continued where they were discussing things despite their suspicions, I could have bought the romance more. As it was I just ended up feeling like: well I can see these two breaking up 2 months down the line. I know some people say: you shouldn’t be judging a book by what the characters do, but in a romance, it totally has an impact on a reader’s enjoyment. So. Yeah it brought down the story for me.

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