For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.
Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.
But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.
It's funny, really, because just recently I was thinking about Jennifer L. Armentrout's (J. Lynn is her pseudonym) book writing prowess, specifically the speed with which she writes, and feeling rather envious. I mean, it takes most authors a year or so to deliver a single book to the masses while Ms. Armentrout manages five times (or more) that quantity. Wow. Impressive.
Certainly I've had some issues with a couple of her books in the past, but altogether I'm a fan. Remember, this isn't great literature we're talking about, but rather good storytelling, and while I find some of her characters, descriptions, and dialogue a bit redundant, there's no question she delivers the goods.
Now, all that being said, I must confess that this one missed the mark for me. By a mile. My irritation did not lie in any redundancies, nor did I take issue with overuse of her favorite character descriptions (please shoot me if I ever have to read 'sooty lashes' again), but in the story itself.
For me, reading one of Armentrout's books is a bit like slipping on a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers on a frigid January morning. It's comfy and predictably good. So I've been saving this book for a time when I really needed it, something to shake off the doldrums of all the crap life has to offer. Only this time, my fuzzy slippers betrayed me and left my tootsies chilly.
So how exactly did this happen? I mean, how on earth could things have gone so terribly wrong on such an epic scale? How? And Why?
Best that I begin with the narrators of this story.
Aside from these characters informing me of their longstanding bestie status, I was given no real indication of why exactly Syd and Kyler were so close. They seemed more like acquaintances than BFFs for life. Their inability to have even the simplest of conversations pertaining to feelings or expectations felt much more like two people just learning to feel each other out as opposed to two souls who'd been friends most of their life. Sure, I understand that when two people are delving in to feelings that seem foreign, given their longstanding friendship, there can be some anxiety over it, but their utter shutdown when it came to all things emotional made the angst surrounding this dilemma feel a bit hollow. I'm not suggesting that they need to stand on a rooftop and shout proclamations of love, but I expected more dialogue on the subject, inner or verbal, even if it were vague. No such luck. Couple this inability to speak frankly with what I can only characterize as a lack of commonality, I often found myself wondering why these two were friends in the first place.
To make matters worse, the author chose to characterize Syd as a blundering, bumbling, buffoon. If she wasn't tripping over her own feet and spilling her coffee, she was taking a header into a mailbox, or flopping like a fish after falling in the bathtub, or slipping in the garage like some soon to be victim of a homicidal maniac in a horror flick. It got old real fast. When are authors going to stop characterizing their female protags as moronic, virginal dolts without an inability to fend for themselves? Coupled with her simpy "why me?" attitude, I couldn't have given a crap if I were swimming in a sea of it. Listen, by the time Syd finally pulls her head out of her ass (probably looking for said 'crap') and did something about her unrequited love, I was totally over her already. There rest was simply going through the motions and needing to finish the story.
As for Kyler? I found him utterly unenjoyable for the first half of the book. He was crass and rude, overbearing and bordering on bullying. If I had a friend like Kyler, I'd lose their number posthaste. This only added to my inability to understand this supposed unrequited love even more. Aside from his being "lickable" I found no other redeeming qualities. It wasn't until the latter part of the book that his personality began to take form and I found him to be tolerable but, again, by this point it was too little, too late. Trust me, I get how the author was trying to portray Kyler. There are enough books out there that I fully understand the type of man she was trying to draw, but where books like Tangled, Wallbanger and Beautiful Bastard succeed in creating a male lead you love to hate and maybe slightly desperate to screw, Ms. Armentrout's depiction of Kyler was a fail. He's simply a self-indulgent lothario without very much substance.
Aside from the above, there was a secondary story arc that fell utterly flat for me. See, there's this mystery playing in the background of these would-be lovers' follies. A whodunnit of sorts. Only, there's absolutely no mystery to it and the fact that these two dimwits couldn't immediately piece this together was beyond believable and frustrating beyond tolerance. Additionally, for a book released by a publisher, I was shocked at the amount of editorial mistakes. There were grammatical problems, typos, tense issues and a slew of poorly structured sentences. Will I read more of Ms. Armentrout's book? Yes. Unquestionably. But as for this series... stick a fork in me, I'm done. Perhaps Ms. Armentrout should worry less about the volume of books she churns out and more about their quality. Needless to say, I am no longer in awe of her speed writing.