Thursday, January 16, 2020

Lucy Lennox - Facing West

I left my family and tiny Texas hometown fifteen years ago to escape small-town gossips and to give my mom and sister the chance at a better life. But when a phone call from an attorney back home informs me that my sister passed away, leaving me custody of her newborn baby, I’m shocked out of the steady life I’ve built for myself running a tattoo shop in San Francisco. The thing is: I don’t do babies. And I don’t do small towns. Or commitment. And I especially don’t do family. My plan is to go back to Hobie just long enough to sign adoption papers, giving my niece the kind of stable, loving family I could never provide. But the moment I meet my niece in the arms of Weston Wilde, my sister’s best friend and the town’s handsome doctor, my plans begin to change. Because suddenly, I see a different future. One with the very thing I thought I never deserved: a family. If only I can convince West that I’m not the same good-for-nothing kid ready to bolt when things get tough.
There’s one thing I know for sure about Nico Salerno: he was a good-for-nothing as a kid and judging by the purple-haired, tattoo’d punk who shows up at his sister’s funeral, he hasn’t changed. There’s no way I’m letting him take custody of my best friend’s baby. But the more time I spend around him, the more I realize that his rough exterior is just a shell and that beneath all the tattoos is a scared, insecure man searching for a place to belong. And pretty soon I know exactly where he belongs: in my bed and by my side. The problem is, he abandoned his family once before, how do I know that if we become a family he won’t do it again?

Comment: I first got aware of this author through goodreads recommendations. It seemed, by the covers and blurbs, that her books would be contemporary romances with romance being in the central stage and with several series, each one with with a reasonable amount of installments, I was ready to start and enjoy them.
I saw, however, that the author's books are only available through amazon and upon contacting the author, that it might not be possible the situation would change. Therefore, using a discount voucher, I bought a more expensive paperback edition of this book and, anticipating I'd love it, I started to prepare myself for the possibility I might have to give in and read the other books through the kindle app in my PC which is not as pleasant nor practical but it would still be cheaper.
After months of mulling over this issue, I must say I find myself surprised because this is no longer a worry, since this book failed to impress me and it might take a while for me to try the author again.

In this book we meet Weston Wilde, one of several siblings living in a small town in Texas. The Wilde family has connections and a good reputation but what is better known about them is that of the 10? siblings several of them are gay.
Weston is the oldest and he is a family doctor and he loves the community he is in, the fact he can live close to his brothers and sisters, even though some have gone to live somewhere else. Weston also had a great best friend, Adrianna, but she sadly passed away and left a baby daughter with whom West has bonded over. This means he isn't prepared when Nico Salerno, someone he remembered from their teenage years, comes back to settle things as he is Adrianna's brother and now responsible for the niece he wasn't aware of having.
Nico left town quite angry and he was not thinking about coming back but this new situation forces him to return and see some people again, which he doesn't think will be a god experience. He only wants to solve the baby situation and go back to his life in San Francisco but the baby is the last connection he has with his late sister and West is certainly appealing to look at.
Will these two find common ground?

I thought this story would follow along the lines of a sweet romance with some world building and a good setting but I'm sad because the tone and content of the story felt too sugary at times and I don't think the characters were fleshed out well.

Weston and Nico knew each other as teenagers and the Nico left. That now they meet again and think of one another differently, I can totally accept and I was looking for to see them fall in love. However, the process wasn't smooth or natural. The way they were put together in the many scenes/situations felt often contrived and I can't understand how they would connect after so little time being close to one another again and after pre-conceived ideas both had about the other.
I just don't buy that their feelings changed that quickly.
I would say that, to me, the problem was that they don't really have chemistry and that detail is forced on the reader. The author could give more (or better) clues on how their feelings were changing but it just seems as if the reader has to infer that, as if that's a basic information to have and I missed more scenes or different ones to convince me they were meant to be together.
The book is long and besides the romance there isn't a lot of plot, so I think this could have been done better.

I also would say the first person narrator wasn't a good choice for this story. Since the majority of the plot is based on how the romance develops and how the two guys deal with their feelings while interacting with those closest to them, they have to be pretty good narrators and captivating so the reader can't help but liking to see what happens, to know more about their thoughts.
I think this was also a not so good element because the thought process was just so...repetitive (yes, we can understand they think the other is attractive) and mechanic, and secondary things happening to both of them were always seen through a simple layer. There was nothing special about them or how they thought about their surroundings to make me want to care about their lives.

Being Nico and West the narrators, everything we learn about the other characters and situations is because of how they see it. The reader can have some knowledge by how other reply to them or so, but to be honest, all the conversations, the interactions between characters felt like one of those hallmark based movies, where things work out superficially, they look well or bad accordingly to what is expected, but there isn't a real meaning to things, the isn't a strong connection to those characters and the hidden parts of their lives we never see but imagine.

In the end, I feel sad I didn't like this book more because I imagined I would. It's a pity this didn't offer me more depth or the organic development I expected. There are positive elements, the potential is there, the idea is good but the execution was not. For me at least.
The main characters have difficulties, real worries but there's no real work on any of those things because they are made to look cute and slightly clumsy falling in love. This was an easy book to read, there are things I liked that made it easy to turn the pages but it wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be.
I'll try another book by this author one day, just in case I had the bad luck of trying one not the norm but my hopes aren't high anymore...perhaps this author's writing style isn't for me.
Grade: 5/10

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