Chloe is bad at dating. No, really. You think, “well, a lot of folks are bad at dating”. I assure you, Chloe is fantastically bad. She tells knock knock jokes when she gets nervous, which you want to excuse because she’s a second grade teacher, but mostly, you want to pat her on the back and suggest that she try movie dates rather than coffee dates.
Boyd, in the way of romance heroes, is amused by how awkward Chloe is because Chloe is also quite hot (yet unaware of this, in the way of romance heroines). So her social anxiety issues merely become a challenge for Boyd to overcome on the way to making Chloe his.
Because I purchased Aston’s first book, Wrong, Amazon has steadily recommended her subsequent novels. Wrong was a solid read, but I disliked both the hero and the dynamic between the leads (submissive and virginal college senior falls in love with dom gynecologist almost twice her age who has to tell her when she’s pregnant). So, like any savvy shopper, I read the Trust sample first. Chloe seemed adorable, and the set-up was less exploitive. Sure. Let’s do this, Aston.
I have regrets.
I felt for Chloe throughout the book. She’s really awkward, and her anxiety is clearly crippling. What I didn’t get was why she was so very hell-bent on dating when it brought her so much distress. She beats herself up repeatedly when her dates go poorly, bemoans the proliferation of unsolicited dick pics in her inboxes, but, here’s what I want her friends to say to her: you don’t have to date right now. You just graduated from college less than six months ago. Just because your friends are 22 and married with a newborn or a stepchild in kindergarten does not mean that you need to be yoked to another as well. Give it time. Work on that anxiety.
Whereas I want to be Chloe’s loving, but exasperated older sister, I never made it to Team Boyd. Boyd started off well enough–points to any guy who can restrain himself from giving a girl grief when she tries to catch Pokemon on his crotch–but he quickly takes a turn into “you in danger, girl” territory with the following incidents:
- Sitting in on one of Chloe’s awkward dates, which, of course, makes it more awkward. Yay! Ruining her date with another guy will pave the way for you to get with her!
- Taking her shopping for new clothes for the party you tricked her into attending with you. “Fixing her up” feels like a great idea, but resist the urge. She is not a hooker, you are not Richard Gere. (Especially resist the urge when it involves functionally kidnapping.)
- Telling her at the last moment that the party you tricked her into attending with you is half-way across the country.
The high-handed hero who takes charge is a flavor that I don’t really care for. If it works for you, Boyd does it well.
Boyd decides that the only way he can get Chloe to date him is to trick her into having a relationship. If he can keep spending time with her, she’ll be less nervous, and things can take their course. When Chloe asks Boyd point-blank “what are we doing”, he doesn’t call it “dating” because that would freak her out. He calls it “Chloe-and-Boyding”. I have another word for it: gaslighting.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s funny. Chloe is hard to dislike. Her inner monologue is hilarious and real.
What if we have sex and it’s bad and he never talks to me again? Or what if we have sex and it’s bad but he thinks it’s good and wants to keep having terrible sex with me?
He catered this entire courtship around me. And if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
Girl, please. Imma let you finish, but I want to suggest that your next partner, when you leave this manipulative asshole, should be someone who chooses to be honest with you rather than gaslighting you. I don’t care how magic his anatomy may be.