For the first third of this book, I was super into it. Then things started to get a little rocky. And then the ship breached on the rocks and got all leaky. Everything eventually righted itself and the imaginary sailors plugged up all the holes or whatever, but it was too late. My goodwill had already leaked out.
I did not anticipate beating that metaphor to death when I started it, but I am not going to delete it because it accurately represents how I feel about the experience of reading this book, which was probably about 100 pages too long, and messy as hell in its second half. It was like watching a slow motion car crash. I could see it falling apart.
Nick and Bex are Oxford classmates and live in the same building. Bex is an American on exchange, and Nick is Prince Nicholas, the future King of England. They fall in love. That part was lovely! The authors brought a realness to both characters that made them pop in my mind, and their chemistry was very sweet and intoxicating in only the way that love stories can be in the beginning.
And then as Bex and Nick hit roadblocks in their relationship, the book started to hit them, too. It mostly held through the middle but by the time I hit about the 66% mark, it almost lost me. The pacing of the story went from relatively smooth to rocky and jumpy as hell. Key moments were skipped over willy-nilly. Time jumps ahoy! Things that needed resolving either weren’t resolved, or the way they were resolved was unsatisfying. There was a specific moment where something overly dramatic happened (overly dramatic happenings are nearly always a sign of the authors having lost control of the story) and someone witnessed something happening, and then we don’t get a reaction from them for 150 pages. We jump from that random thing, into another really dramatic random thing and it was unbelievably jarring. SPOILERS I’m talking about Lacey witnessing Bex kiss Freddie and run away crying, and then it goes immediately into their father dying without even a chapter break. There is zero fallout in the moment from this, and it’s not brought back in until the end of the book, after Lacey witnesses them kissing again, and makes more melodrama happen entirely offscreen, when we only learn about it after the fact END SPOILERS. When the book hits the home stretch, there are also weird story jumps all over the place.
I don’t need my stories to be completely smooth sailing. I like there to be conflict. But I like that conflict to seem organic, and to feel right. The way this was written felt messy and constructed, and it pulled most of the joy of the story out of the experience.
I might read the sequel out of curiosity, but I’ll coming to it with more skepticism than I did this one. I liked it overall, but I’m also disappointed.