July 12, 2012

Love Story: A Panoramic Review

"For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.
" (from Goodreads) 

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

My reaction: 

Jennifer Echols is clearly talented at writing flawed, not-so-likeable characters (see my review of Forget You). Erin initially struck me as overconfident, self-centered, and even kind of stuck-up. While I wouldn't say all of these descriptors are inaccurate, she grew on me, and I started to like her a little more as the book went along. I had to respect that she was trying to make it on her own, without her grandmother's support, because she didn't want the life her grandmother was trying to force on her. Hunter also has his faults — he's a bit too much of a suave charmer for my taste, and (along with Erin) he suffers from an inability to talk about his emotions. In fact, he's a little creepy in a way...you can't quite trust him, he always wants to be in control — and frankly, even by the end of the book I don't think he's really reformed.

I liked the use of stories throughout — it was a cool way to show different writing styles, and yet you can draw parallels to Hunter's & Erin's lives from them. At the same time, we're also reminded that we can't read too much into them, since the stories have been written with a purpose by Hunter and Erin. The tagline — "She's writing about him. He's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines." — is true, but the most important part is what Erin and Hunter themselves are reading between the lines. In essence, they're really terrible at communicating! They need to figure out how to express themselves to each other's faces, rather than through the medium of the written word.

Best aspect: Hunter's and Erin's weird, twisted relationship — it's what really makes this book. I almost saw them as a modern, YA version of Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, especially through the first half of this book. They keep wanting to hurt each other so that they don't get hurt, trying to protect themselves by lashing out at the other person. Neither wants to let themselves be vulnerable. Now, I have made no secret of the fact that I really didn't like Wuthering Heights — but the same, thankfully, is not true of Love Story. I'm not sure exactly why, although I think the characters here are not as thoroughly reprehensible. Neither Erin nor Hunter on their own is that complicated a character, but together they're a real mess. Half the time they want to kiss, the other half they want to fight.

I was always wondering what they'd do next, because there's so much that's not water under the bridge, and the past is rearing its ugly head and creating a barrier between them in the present. This gives the book a low-level tension throughout that kept me reading. They've let their past misunderstandings pile up, and now they hold all these assumptions about each other, and what happened, that wouldn't be there if they'd just talk things through! 

If I could change something... I'm not sure I like the way things ended with them. Their conflict wasn't resolved to my satisfaction and I thought they needed to talk more about the status of their relationship and share their true feelings (as cheesy as that sounds!). I didn't think their relationship was very healthy, with Hunter's behaviour in particular raising some warning signs. Spoilery, highlight to read: Yes, Erin wrote some cruel messages directed at him, but personally I felt that the way he lied to her for so long was worse. Although they're in a better place by the last page than they were at the first, I'm not convinced that they should be together as a couple.
The "New Adult" aspect:

A Tapestry of WordsErin's at times impetuous behaviour makes her feel immature in some ways, which I think will help teens relate to her voice (this book is marketed as YA, even though it's set in college). While it's on the younger side of NA spectrum, I think her voice and mindset is quite in line with what you might expect for a student early on in their college experience. Jennifer Echols gets the college scene right, from going to clubs and getting drunk at parties to attending class. I thought she provided a neat glimpse into the world of a student in a  creative writing program, and probably a fairly realistic view of what college writing classes are like.

Just one more thing I want to mention: the horse farm inheritance plotline seemed kind of old-fashioned. Erin likens Hunter to Gatsby at one point, and certain themes in this book definitely reflect those of The Great Gatsby — namely, the emphasis on status in the social hierarchy, and the concept of someone attempting to rise above and improve their lot in life. I thought it was a little weird that this was such a big deal in the modern day, but perhaps I don't know much about what status means to Kentucky horse farm owners.


I wanted so badly to slap him. Or kiss him. But there was no physical show of the emotion passing between us, layer upon layer, the upper strata putting the lower ones under enormous pressure. I simply turned and left the classroom, "Almost a Lady" flopping about in front of me.

But I would need to mine those layers when I met him alone. I had to shut him up before he said anything about me and my stable boy to Gabe. I could not let Hunter Allen ruin my life.


Final verdict: 4 shooting stars. Don't go into this book expecting a comfort read that will give you warm fuzzies — but you can expect some good quality writing and a very complex relationship.

Note: This book contains some mature language and content.

This book counts towards my goal for the "New Adult" reading challenge and Just Contemporary reading challenge.


  1. I haven't read any of Jennifer Echols' books, but I've heard amazing things. This one looks great! Thanks for the great review!

  2. Totally agree that the relationship was twisted, and I definitely didn't feel like it was resolved at all. I didn't think much of either of the characters, so it was hard to root for them. And, well... I was going to go into the whole thing, but you can read my review here if you'd like.

    (Also I just re-read my review and after just finishing 'Such A Rush', I think it actually does compare with the awesomeness of 'Going Too Far')

  3. *Snicker* I loved your off beat comments on WH. I think the whole C and H relationship was largely affected by the constraints of the society along with their own twisted relationship. I see the appeal of him, but I don't see hers.

  4. Great review! It's been a while since I read this but I do remember being let down by the ending, otherwise I really enjoyed it and I like that it fits the NA genre.

  5. I had a lot of problems with this book-most of which you touched on here. Echols can really hit my nerves and get me passionately engaged in a plot.


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