Wednesday, March 18, 2020

TBR Challenge: Quinn Anderson - Fourteen Summers

Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.
Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.
Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.

Comment: Today is the 3rd Wednesday of the month, which means is time for the monthly post belonging to the TBR Challenge. The themes for this year have become broader so people can have more options (although one can choose to not follow the theme anyway). I have said before that the fun for me is precisely the fact I can try to match a book to a theme so this month the theme being seasons was quite the challenge.
After some indecision, I went with the obvious and picked a book that has one of the seasons on the title.

In this new adult romance we have the story of three childhood friends: twin brothers Aiden and Max and their former childhood neighbor Oliver.
Now, all three are just entering their 20s and they are reunited after years apart due to Oliver's parents divorce. In the past, Max has always been the adventurous one, initiating all their plays and games and that hasn't changed, although the fact both Aiden and Oliver are gay has brought to life a closer companionship they never thought of in the past and that now is turning into something more.
This means the reunion makes Aiden and Oliver feel closer and think of the other as much more than just a friend. How can Max, always the one they would look up to, feel being put aside now the others found a different connection? Can they maintain their childhood bonds? Can the twins still be each other's compass?

I think the idea of this book was a good one and that is why it was on my TBR. Twins who have always shared a lot, who have a special bond for several reasons have welcomed, as children, a friend who had a more complicated life at home. At some point they separated but now they are young adults in their 20s they find themselves in the same place where they played years ago and they might be in close universities as well, right after the summer ends.
They are now young men and they see things differently but they all hope their friendship can be rekindled as if it never stopped. One of the twins and their friend are attracted to one another but would the other twin feel left out if they prefer to be together alone instead of with him?
I thought this would be an interesting premise and all the details felt right. However, the development of the story didn't go the way I assumed: a complex evolution of these characters while dealing with situations that affected them all.

In fact, for me, the development was very superficial, very weakly treated and instead focused on things that didn't feel well thought of.
The purpose of this story was to showcase how someone would feel like a third wheel if the two people they are closest to would become a couple. We all have friends in these situations and we all certainly have felt jealous if our company wasn't as obviously appreciated as that of another person. The psychological aspect of this was the interesting part of the whole book because twin Max was the one put aside. Not as if the others didn't want him around but they wanted to see if what they felt had somewhere to go and that means time alone.

I think Max was a character that behaved well enough, he did seem to have filled his role well and I could commiserate with him: it's normal to feel jealous, to feel one's company wasn't welcome, to feel displaced even if rationally one would understand the others were falling in love (were they?).
What I think wasn't as well done and was, in fact, very boring to me, was how Oliver and Aiden's relationship progressed and how whiny and mindless they seemed at times.
There was a lot of drama because they seemed to feel misunderstood, because they let secondary things get in the way of their budding love, and because of who knows what. At the same time, they were so bent on seeing if they could be a couple, they put everything aside and felt it was unfair how Max wanted to spend time with them.

I don't think I felt sympathy towards Oliver and Aiden. Their relationship was cute yes, especially since it was Aiden's first experience with being in love but deep down I would say the problem of the whole book was how it was written and how the author chose to develop these characters.
We have the POVs of the three guys and considering that I found both Oliver and Aiden's issues as being done in such a tiresome manner, I preferred Max as a narrator. Perhaps had there only been one narrator I'd have liked it more because the focus of this book would not have been the romance, but actually how one relationship affected three people.

I think the author chose to deal with things in a very superficial manner, the intimacy scenes were unnecessary... she could have written this more in the fiction vibe and not the romance one.. or the other way around, but the way it was, the focus was in many things and neither was done properly.
Even the personal issues each character has sounded very childish. At times this looked more YA than NA but, to be honest, most of the time, these are not distinguishable for me anyway.

There's an epilogue which is the fluffiest of them all and was already a given... I don't think it added anything to the story.
The characters came off as too immature, they didn't seem to have grown up because they didn't really need to, after all their problems could have been dealt very easily had they thought of them differently. Childish does seem a good word for some scenes.

This is a story that was not a good one for me, I'll likely won't remember much of it in the near future but I'm certain it worked out for others. I don't think I'll return to this author, though.
Grade: 3/10

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