by Laura Lee Guhrke

Rating:
3/5

Plot/Storyline: 📖 📖 📖 
Feels: 🦋🦋🦋
Romance: 💞💞 
Emotional Depth: 💔💔 
Sexual Tension: ⚡️ ⚡️ ⚡️ 
Sensuality: 🔥🔥
Sex Scene Length: 🍆🍆 

This book starts on page 200. And that’s a damn shame because you have to wade through a lot of…well, frankly, “nothingness” to get to the good stuff. The first half was so boring. I almost gave up on page 150. Even the first kiss was a blasé affair. Disappointingly so. 

But the end does redeem this book, so let me tell you what I disliked and what I loved. 

This book had all the makings of things I love. Guardian-Ward. Forced Proximity. Part road trip romance. It could have been a 5 star. It had so much potential. But the first half was boring and completely devoid of romance. 

Jonathan is Marjorie’s guardian. She’s been in White Plains, NY at finishing school. He is going back to London and decides to leave her there even though she’s almost 21. So she sneaks onto the same boat and into his cabin. I thought YES! This is going to be so good. They have to be alone. This just has to be steamy. Has to be!

Ensue 150 pages of boredom. LLG did try to make it exciting (I think?). There was a 30 page stretch of a single dinner scene in which a con-lady and a broke Count are trying to manipulate the heroine so that she will be compromised. The hero keeps warning her and she doesn’t believe him and so he has to form alliances with other guests to protect her and sneak around to catch the Count and con-lady in sneaky conversation. He then threaten’s the Count and pays off the con-lady to stop meddling. 

And then when that is resolved, the whole thing is over. It has no bearing on their romance or the story at all, except to make me dread that plot line would rear its ugly head again. Thankfully it didn’t. I will say this: If gratuitous sex is considered poor form in romance novels because it doesn’t advance their relationship, this kind of stuff should be considered poor form, too. Hell, I’d rather read gratuitous sex any day over boring and pointless filler. 

Following that, we get chapters of Jonathan avoiding Marjorie like the plague> He saddles her with with boring ass chaperones that are overly stern and force her to do needlepoint and we’re told about it all in mind-numbing detail. I know we were meant to understand how boring the time on the ship was for Marjorie but that’s the shit an author should skip over. Towards the end of this monotony, we’re told that the hero spent a week burning for Marjorie and that’s why he was avoiding her. Why couldn’t LLG write about that instead of about fucking needlepoint and how stern her temporary chaperone was? I wanted to read a romance, not a chaperonage story. 

Ugh, so yeah. I nearly gave up on it at that point. I am happy, however, that I didn’t because the second half was like reading an entirely different book. It was more like the previous LLG books I’ve read, which were delicious, slow burn romances with incredible tension and heart-melting sweetness. It’s what I was hoping for with this book. But it took forever for those butterflies to emerge from their cocoons. I hated how long I had to wait for Jonathan to pay attention to her.  But once he stopped avoiding her, once he couldn’t ignore her anymore, once the feelings were too strong. That was when it started becoming a the book I expected it to be. 

It was at this point that we finally get to know Jonathan, who thinks he knows exactly what he wants out of life, but Marjorie makes him question everything. He’s unable to answer, though and his self reflection on the past ten years was both poignant and sad. As he reacquainted himself with London and his family you begin to understand that his adventurous spirit was built on restless loneliness. A deep longing to be more. To have more. Rich as sin, money never meant anything to him. But he’d never stopped to analyze why he bothered to earn so much of it. That’s where Marjorie changes everything. 

Marjorie is very much the opposite. Her father essentially abandoned her when she was seven and she’d spent her whole life in one place. She’s not a wandering soul. She wants nothing more than to have a home and to be loved and wanted. And as she falls in love with Jonathan she’s forced to analyze the impact her fathers absence from her life had on her and deal with the pain of Jonathan essentially ignoring her. She’s scared she will be abandoned again and this has lasting implications once Jonathan finally does come around.

It’s those feeling and emotions that finally brought richness to this story. How they have to learn to understand each other and compromise the things that are important to themselves in order to make each other happy. Those were the parts that I loved about this book.

Sadly, they were a bit too far and few between for this to be anything more than 3 stars. I think this book could have been a wonderful novella if LLG just lopped off the first 150 pages. 

The love scenes that were there were sweet and hot, but not as good as they could have been. I do want to address one thing. I heard that the first love scene between them had questionable consent. I have to whole heartedly disagree with that assessment. There are two. The first is a “second-base” situation. Marjorie is dealing with difficult emotions that have nothing to do with Jonathan. They share a moment and she leans in to kiss him. Then he leans in to kiss her. Jonathan has some internal misgivings because he is her guardian, but Marjorie doesn’t resist. She doesn’t say no. She doesn’t even think no. She is all in. She is surprised, and tentative, as she is very innocent and naive, but it was not questionable that she wanted it, in my opinion. The second love scene was full-sex, and Marjorie went to him and seduced him and they both wanted it, badly. 

The reason I mention this is simply because I feel that kind of thing can make people not read a book and here, I don’t personally think it is questionable. I wanted to explain what happened so that anyone wondering would be able to have a good grasp of what happened. 

So I will leave it there. If you can wade through the beginning, the end is great. 

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