Only When It’s Us is Chloe Liese’s first romance novel in her “Bergman Brothers” saga. It follows UCLA star soccer player Willa Sutter and her frenemy relationship with Ryder Bergman. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start when Willa asks Ryder for his notes in class and he seemingly ignores her. She reacts in a hideously disproportionate way which becomes all the more irksome when it turns out Ryder is literally deaf and did not physically hear her request. The bulk of the novel unfolds from there with Willa and Ryder’s constant negging and misunderstanding one another’s intentions. Willa’s the tempestuous (read: hostile), misconceived enigma, and Ryder’s the strong, silent young man determined to get through to her.
Yeah, this book was not my favorite. One of two things happened:
- I read two feel-good romance books too close in succession and over indulged much like eating a too many slices of pizza in one sitting
- I can no longer relate enough to characters in their college years in romantic situations and it leaves me feeling annoyed and uncomfortable
I did enjoy Liese’s inclusion and representation of someone with hearing impairment. In fact, I could read the entirety of Ryder’s experience and not miss what Willa was thinking or feeling or overreacting to in the moment. There’s no denying Willa’s complexity, but I almost found it to be too much, and in that sense, unrealistic. Is it possible for a character to suffer from overdevelopment?!
This review is even difficult for me to write because I have this nagging feeling that I’m being too harsh, but the main words that came to my brain when I thought about writing this were, “ugh,” “blah,” and “why?” I did not enjoy the constant metaphors about lumberjack Ryder and his log. I found Willa’s frequent lip biting to be a lame, flat attempt at a character trait. I think it’s inconsistent that the characters hate each other and then one day—boom— it’s love and it’s forever. Forever in your early twenties is a long time, people! I also think it’s possible that I have a case of Murtaugh and I’m simply, “too old for this s**t.”