Stay With Me by Jenny Anastan (3 Stars)

The Book

Zoe is the single mother of three-and-a-half year old Olivia. Olivia’s father is Andrew with whom Zoe had a no strings attached affair while he was in town. When he left, she had not only fallen pregnant but also in love with him.

Years later, he returns, as the fiancé of her former neighbour and enemy Ashley. Now Zoe has to fight her feelings for Ashley, for feelings for Andrew, and either hide Olivia or find a way of justifying keeping her from him.

Why I Read The Book

With many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this book, in return of an honest review.

The Idea

I admit it. Personally, I liked the book a lot, read it in lightning speed and got too involved with the characters. Generally, I have to say that the idea was beyond unoriginal and that I have read too many of similar and almost the same stories over the past few years – long before this book was published in 2014.

A girl who was sexed up by a bad boy kind of guy, whom she can’t help but fall in love with, who then cruelly leaves her behind, unknowing that she was pregnant. Then he returns a few years later and she’s still not over him. Of course, he turns out to have a perfectly acceptable reason for his former treatment and… HEA.

Characters

Zoe Evans has been irrevocably in love with the wrong man for years. With the excuse of having had his child, she refuses to get over him. So, when he returns, she is even more of an emotional wreck. I was very glad that she learned to stand up to him more and more over the course of the book, because even in a vanilla sort of relationship, I expect him to be quite possessive, and she needed to learn to say no.

Andrew Cooper is really difficult to make out, and then again he is so easy to read. His erratic behaviour is confusing. How does he justify to himself that he may reject Zoe at a regular basis but then take possession of her the way he does? At the same time, it was a little too obvious that he was actually in love with Zoe, and you just wanted to slap him and force him to tell the truth.

I would have liked to see more of the other characters, because some of them seemed to have a very interesting basic idea that I would have liked to see further developed. Alys, for example, or Carl, whom she only mentioned making good jokes, but who never actually did.

Realization and Writing Style

The writing style of this story was very simple. If I hadn’t seen that it was, in fact, translated, I would have thought it might have been an attempt by the Italian author to write the story in English. The vocabulary was mostly basic, there was a lack of bigger words, which I would have liked to see in some of the grander descriptions. At the same time, the story was made very accessible this way. It was an easy read, the story no longer than a good Sunday afternoon read, which leaves you mostly happy and satisfied.

I must admit that throughout the story I was very little involved with Zoe and Andrew, but more reminded of a certain fandom for which I have written and read fanfictions, and where I have seen multiple of these kinds of stories. And it wasn’t just the plotline which reminded me of fanfictions, but also the writing style was on the level with these hobby authors. This little fact may have upped my personal view of the story but it certainly was disastrous for my general opinion. There should be a clear distinction between fanfiction and actually published books.

The fact that the basic idea of book had been done so often, resulted in the fact that there were very few surprises for me in this book. I prefer my books to inspire my fantasy, and my head tends to write the story ahead of my reading it, and I find that I’m almost never right. I like that. In this book, I was right with every assumption I made. – Well, perhaps not when it comes to the darker parts of Andrew’s mind and past, but everything else.

There was one thing I actually liked about the book. When the first chapter started in the “present day of four years after the affair”, I felt like I missed out on many moments that Andrew and Zoe shared before. Zoe’s trips into the past during some of the chapters, therefore, were a real highlight.

I will also admit that I have developed a sort of fascination with the character of Andrew. How can you be so hard-hearted with the person you love? How does your head justify spending time with them, claiming them, when you know that you don’t want to keep them around or when you feel like you are bad for them? That little glimpse that we got into Andrew’s head towards the end didn’t satisfy my need.

I was glad that they didn’t get together at the end of the book but that there was time for talking and working things out. Overall, the end was exactly what I expected and made me happy, especially and including the epilogue.

After Reading

More. I know, I said it was unoriginal and I’ve read it before. But I got emotionally involved, and I’d really like to see more of the “good” side of Andrew. I mean, come on!

Rating

Idea: 3 Stars
Characters: 3 Stars
Realization: 3 Stars
Writing Style: 3 Stars
General Rating: 2 Stars
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

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