Today is the first official day of Summer, but the weather has been miserably hot for weeks. This and the fact that I’ve been plagued by hormonal hot flashes and am not a fan of the humidity or bugs that come along with the season, have left me in a cranky, irritable mood. It does not help that my latest read disappointed me greatly.
For this month’s TBR Challenge, our theme is favorite trope. I chose a book that is a hybrid combination of “enemies to lovers” and “second chance at love,” two of my favorite tropes. It also revolves around a wedding, which I also normally enjoy. If I remember correctly, I picked this ebook up while it was discounted on Amazon to stash back for a rainy day when I had nothing new to read. I had high hopes for this book when I first read the summary. It held such promise of being an awesome book but, sadly, it did not live up to its potential.
The Runaway Groom (The Logan Series #1)
by Sally Clements
Seven years ago, Matthew Logan ran out on his wedding to June Leigh.
Life is good for fledgling dress-designer April Leigh. She couldn’t be happier that her sister has found a new love, and is excited about her very first commission, June’s wedding dress.
When April discovers June has invited runaway groom Matthew Logan to the wedding, she has to intervene. Matthew’s presence will ruin everything – her father hates him, and just the sight of him in the church might give her mother a heart attack.
Matthew Logan has no intention of going to June’s wedding, but when intriguing April arrives on his doorstep, he can’t resist getting to know her better. When a disaster forces them together neither can deny the passion that combusts into a red-hot affair.
Discovering the truth about the past shifts April’s feelings from lust to love, but bitter experience has taught Matthew to guard his heart.
When it looks as though Matthew will lose her forever, will he fight or flee?
Remember a couple of months ago when I compared certain books to popcorn? Well, this one was more like stale popcorn. There were so many things about this book that failed to satisfy me that I’m not sure where to begin.
It gets off to a very slow start. Nothing actually happens to move the story forward until about 16% into the book. Just a lot of backstory and the heroine working on her sister’s wedding dress and hanging out with her friends and fuming about how the hero hurt her family in the past. About halfway in, it gets better… but not by much.
I found the character of April, our heroine, to be not very likeable or identifiable. For a twenty-three year old fashion designer, living and working on her own in London, she came off as immature. She was also a touch judgemental. I felt she was definitely too old to be that naïve about her sister’s true colors. She also seemed to just go along with whatever popped up in her life without making conscious choices or taking decisive actions, apart from her decision to confront the hero, Matthew, about not showing up at her sister’s wedding. Everything else in her life seems serendipitous rather than planned or worked toward. She’s not a decisive, take-charge type. She is a leaf borne on the winds of circumstance rather than forging her own fate. To paraphrase a line from the movie, The Holiday, she doesn’t seem to be the leading lady of her own life story. She’s an impassive chess piece being moved around the board of life by circumstances and other people’s whims. In other words, not my kind of heroine.
In fact, I had a hard time caring about any of these characters. Their issues seemed petty and trifling to me, and everything could have been easily solved if the characters simply communicated with each other openly and honestly. The main conflict, the hero’s supposed jilting of April’s sister, June, seven years prior, wasn’t enough to carry the plot. The stakes just weren’t high enough. April placed way more importance on the event than was warranted, over-inflating the significance and the impact of her burgeoning feelings for him on her family. The plot feels contrived. Some of the viewpoint shifts were abrupt and jarring. The characters seem flat, the writing stiff. The characters emotions, and even some of their physical details, were inconsistent. For example, at the beginning of the book Matthew’s eyes are described as dark blue and, in the middle of the book, they’re suddenly dark brown and then, toward the end, are back to being blue again.
It could have been a really good book if the characters had actually had any depth to their personalities and if the actions and choices of the characters hadn’t come off as juvenile. These characters are supposed to be in their mid-twenties, not teens. April is naïve and Matthew is vacillating. April’s sister, June, is a manipulative, spoiled princess. The friends are opinionated busy-bodies. The parents are basically props.
Of all the characters, I liked Matthew best. Most of the time he was a smart, successful, confident, sexy man who seemed to have his life in order. Then, toward the end of the book, he comes across as almost neurotic with his mood-swings and mixed messages. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this character had a split personality. In fact, by the end of the book, the actions of neither the hero nor the heroine ring true or realistic in any way.
I was severely disappointed in this book because it should have been a fantastic read. But it ended up being mediocre instead.