Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Jefferson “Jet” Kristopherson, is a rock star. Jet and his cousin, David “Dai” Kristopherson, form the very successful rock band, Forever and a Dai. But their careers and fame came at a high cost, their families. Both families disassociated themselves from Jet and Dai the moment Jet fled the family home and business he was being groomed to run, taking his cousin along with him. While Jet knows abandoning the family business for a career as a musician made him an utter disappointment in his families opinion, the real blame laid on his shoulders was taking Dai with him, and their families have never forgiven him. Now circumstances beyond his control force him back to confront his family and issues he hoped were buried in the past.
Jason Kristopherson is everything his cousin and brother are not. Jason is a successful entertainment lawyer at his father’s law firm just as his family had planned. He is powerful, well respected or feared by his peers and others in the industry. And it is expected that Jason will assume the leadership role in Kristopherson, Carmichael, and Jones, his father’s firm when his father retires. But Jason is hiding a few secrets of his own that if revealed will shatter his family and the future they have so carefully planned out for his life.
The future is about to change drastically for all three men. Who will survive when all the secrets are exposed?
First let me say that as a fantasy author, Megan Derr can do no wrong. With regard to her fantasy stories and series, I can count on her plots being dynamic and complex, her characterizations beautifully realized complete with a lively dialog that moves her fantasy narratives along at a smooth and exuberant pace. I can also say the same of some of her contemporary romance stories. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Love You Like A Romance Novel.
My quibbles with this story boil down to just a couple of issues, but for me they are big ones. Let’s take them one at a time. First is the dense narrative. The first half of this story is so densely packed with backstory and repetitive dialog that it slows the momentum down. So much of it entails the family business and family history that the real drama between Jet and Jason (as well as Jason and Dai) becomes diluted. I noticed that this story was a serialized entry for Megan Derr and Less Than Three Press and wondered if the somewhat jerky movement of the story might be due to the fact that it came out in spurts as a series does rather than a planned novel. That might explain the lack of smoothness in the narrative I found throughout the story.
Secondly, parts of the plot lacked realism. A law firm knowingly deals with major criminal elements and than they are surprised when their reputation (and other things) takes a hit? The characters also react in a way so counter to the situations they are in that at least this reader pulled back in disbelief more than once. When someone knows they are a target, do you really walk into a dark house? That sort of thing happens in a variety of ways here. Perfect, perhaps for a soap opera or yes, maybe a bodice ripper but not a contemporary romance.
But I think my most serious issue is with the characters. I did love Jason Kristopherson. He is the most layered and grownup of the group. He really saved this story for me. He has just a delicious secret that he is keeping, one I did not expect. Jason is ruthless, powerful, self aware and extraordinarily complicated. I wish his counterparts in the story had his complexities. Unfortunately, in regard to Jet and Dai, the first half of the story comes across as Lifestyles of the Rich and Whiny. Both men are wealthy, came from uber rich families and spend most of their time whining and yelling at everyone around them. Neither man is good at listening and communication issues abound throughout the story. Jet is actually 30 years old but his behavior never seems to rise above that of a teenager. In fact, had one meeting been held at the beginning and they actually talked things out, then the book would have been over at page one. But no, Dai and Jet jump to conclusions, run away or just yell at everyone. Exasperating the first time it happens, tiresome and juvenile when it occurs repeatedly.
After the fifty percent mark, the story started to get interesting and engaging and my interest perked up. But then a major character does something so unrealistic that I was jolted back to the beginning and all the reasons I had a hard time investing in this story. And that was a pity because there are some good bones here underneath the thick surface layer and character missteps. Perhaps had the characters more interesting layers, less money, and more real problems, I could have disregarded some of the other issues I had with Love You Like A Romance Novel, but as it stands I loved it less than a romance novel, in fact I loved it not at all.
The cover art is too dark for me to see the graphics, does not seem designed to grab a reader’s attention.