Dear Ms. Walker:
Thank you for sending this book to me for review. I’m a big fan of the friends to lovers trope and was excited to dig in. The premise of this story is that Decker Calhoun went to prison for actions related to Elizabeth Waters. The why isn’t revealed until late in the story. He’s yearned for Lizzie for a long time but has never acted on it; instead being a good guy friend. The big tattooed felon has it bad for Lizzie and its utterly sweet to watch him sweat over her dating another guy and how to best approach her.
Individually each character worked for me. It was the setup I struggled with. Decker has gone to prison for something which is only alluded to in the beginning. We know it has to do with Lizzie and we know he doesn’t regret it even though he gave up a college scholarship, a potential budding professional sports career, and spent time in prison. It’s all good. He’s fine, for the most part, being a felon. He has a small circle of friends including the guy who gave him a post prison job as well as Selah and Lizzie.
Lizzie has her small circle of friends and an asshole boyfriend. Said boyfriend tells Lizzie he’d like an open relationship where he gets to screw around. Rather than dump him, Lizzie is sent into an emotional tailspin. Selah convinces her to sign up for the same fetish dating site as her boyfriend and try the open relationship her boyfriend suggests. Selah’s motivations are to get Decker and Lizzie together.
It was so obvious to everyone that Decker and Lizzie were in love with each other that it didn’t make sense that Lizzie would continue to date anyone but Decker; that she’d hang on to her dumb boyfriend; that she’d sign up for a fetish dating profile. The two character’s actions of refusing to talk to each other once came off as unnatural. Decker holding off because he thought Lizzie was happy was completely believable. Decker not pursuing Lizzie once she told him what her boyfriend wanted? Not believable.
Lizzie’s insecurity based on her boyfriend’s request? Believable. Lizzie not pursuing Decker when he practically laid at her feet? Not believable.
When the reveal of Decker’s big actions came about, it was a bit anticlimactic and I had a hard time buying into it. If he truly had no regrets because he loved Lizzie and had always loved her, that made some sense, but it didn’t seem like his love developed until he was in prison.
It was a short novella–under 100 pages. Decker and Lizzie were sweet characters. I loved that they ended up together. It’s the romance, the courtship part of the story, that I struggled with. C