Publisher: S.B. Addison Books (January 31, 2012)
Format: Kindle Edition
My internal monologue as I get ready to write this review: Gah! What was I thinking?! That cover alone should have warned me to stay far, far away from this book and yet I didn’t listen to what was right in front of me. Oh no, I bought this and now have only myself to blame because it really is as bad as the cover suggests. Seriously though, what’s wrong with her arms? Am I the only reader who’s noticed that? Maybe I really am the only reader and that accounts for the fact that no one noticed she has Gumby arms! Sigh. Why do I do this to myself? At least the guy pawing at Gumby has a passably good body…and what is that they’re lying in? An ocean of rocks? Isn’t this set at the beach? Where’s all the water?
Robin Mason has been infatuated with lifeguard, Drake Robertson, since he saved her from drowning when she was 15. Now that’s she’s off to college, she thinks this summer is the one where he will truly notice her. She and best friend, Whitney, make it their goal to ensnare the gorgeous Drake and when Robin does so almost immediately, she begins envisioning a picture-perfect relationship with him. But Drake has no desire to be attached and breaks Robin’s heart when she catches him rolling around in the bushes buck naked with her neighbor. Her heart wounded, Robin attempts to pick up the pieces while Drake’s younger brother, Elliott, attempts to woo her. At first she can’t see past Drake’s deception but eventually gives in to Elliott and realizes that maybe picking the wrong brother is all that she needed to find the right one.
For the love of all that is good and sweet, first that cover and now the book itself. I promised myself since the last smaltzy love story I read that I would take a break. But of course I can’t resist a good romance and now, I’m paying for it. I don’t mean to be overly harsh but this book is just a big old mess. All of the relationships happen far too quickly and seem to be based on absolutely nothing. First Drake, a hot guy who has never shown Robin the slightest romantic interest, falls all over himself to be with her, then breaks her heart by fooling around with her neighbor, and then swings back around to attempt to win her back. Robin’s feelings for Drake are so flimsy yet all consuming that it just feels fake. Then there’s his equally gorgeous brother, Elliott, who claims he took one look at her (after bonking her in the head with a door no less) and knew she was the one for him. As in the one for him in a future that ends in marriage. At 18 years old. Now I have no qualms with love at first sight but I find it very hard to stomach an 18 year old boy claiming that he saw one shy girl and wanting her desperately for the rest of his life. The speed of his confession and his pointed interested just feels completely forced and unreal. Likewise Robin’s reaction to both boys is wholly out of proportion to the length of time she spends with them. She seems almost manic and utterly dependent on their feelings. If she’s not deliriously happy basking in the glow of their gorgeous faces and bodies, she’s crying, sobbing, or running away from their confessions of love for her. It’s Neediness 101 and Robin Mason deserves an A for all that effort. At its heart, there’s really not much substance to If I Can’t Have You. It’s one girl stuck between two boys who seem to want her without knowing why. It’s all pretty innocuous until the very end when it seems the author decided that her characters were better suited to erotica than YA fiction and all sort of sexy times come out of the woodwork. But even those were peppered with neediness and tears and frankly they stopped being sexy right away. The premise of this book is great but the execution is sadly lacking. Add to it banal writing and poorly written sequences and you just have a mish mash that is quite dull.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 2. Robin was so whiny and so utterly dependent on whether Drake or Elliott loved her that I just disliked her immediately. Any girl that places all of her emotional eggs in one basket has deep seated issues and I didn’t really want to watch her fragile ego be destroyed by not one but two gorgeous love interests who happen to be related. Double ick btw.
How much did I like the love interest: Wait, wait. Is it Drake or is it Elliott? We don’t find out until about halfway through that Drake is a cad and by that time Elliott seems like such a prince in comparison that we immediately love him for not being a selfish, sex-obsessed teen like his brother. I give him a 3 because I have a thing for blond surfer dudes but ones that become obsessed with a single girl and make some weird proclamation about all the girls they’ve been with before (at the age of 18 mind you) lose serious points.
How believable is the plot: 5. I’ve never met two brothers who happen to be gorgeous and fall in love with me simultaneously. Maybe there’s some jealousy there or something but I find that plot point highly suspect. The young girl who becomes infatuated with the guy who rescued her years ago? Now that’s a premise I can get on board with.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 2. This writer needs an editor. Sometimes Robin would think the same thing in two separate paragraphs only using different words. I remember thinking, “Now, wait, didn’t I already read this part?” But no, I hadn’t because she was just reiterating what she said three paragraphs earlier. A good editor would clear that right up. There were lots of typos and grammatical issues as well as bad pacing and dialogue.
How much did I want to keep reading: 1. I didn’t. I didn’t believe that Elliott really wanted Robin. In fact, I kept waiting for the punchline where he turns out to be an even bigger cad than his brother who was just toying with Robin’s emotions. Only that didn’t happen and the book sank deep down into the depths of “Judith almost can’t finish this but will because the Kindle progress bar claims it’s almost over”.
Final Score: 2/10. This wasn’t one of my most enjoyable reading experiences. The overall story was subpar and the writing left a lot to be desired. Sorry if this review feels a bit lackluster but I’m just reacting to what I’m given here, people.