Nice Little Romance About The One Who Got Away
I have a huge love for Romance novels, especially the one's about people who are damaged or have struggled through life before finding true love and through that love finding themselves. And while I'll Be There didn't deal with any pas trauma, abuse or anything of that nature it still hit all those same buttons within me. This was the second book I've read by Autumn Doughton and I believe this is the first book she wrote. One thing I really like about this author is that she has continually improved her craft with each subsequent book she releases and the few minor complaints I had with this one are completely absent in her other novels that I've read. It's always nice being able to watch a very talented author grow so quickly in such a short time and for me that was a big part of my enjoyment while reading her books.
Okay, now on to the storyline: Willow James has basically the perfect life, a life she has completely built up around her boyfriend Dustin Rant. They have made all the normal plans that two young adults who are about to graduate high-school make together, plans like college, the prom and even a date the very night the book starts. Willow meets Dustin at a Steakhouse of all places and everything is right and normal in her life until Dustin gives her the whole "It's me, not you speech," and over a plate of cheese fries to boot. Needless to say Willow is devastated. She dropped everything for Dustin and completely rewrote her life around him. She dumped her best friend because he didn't approve of her and pretty much did everything for him and now with only two months until graduation she finds herself alone, shunned by her friends at school, friends that were actually Dustin's and who once they were no longer a couple either ignore her or are downright hostile to her. For a good portion of the book she goes around in a bit of daze, wanting Dustin back, trying to understand why he dumped her and slowly but surely she starts to realize that she doesn't even really know who she is anymore.
This is the hard part for me. I really want to tell you what happens but I don't want to ruin it so I'll try to gloss over it and be as cryptic as I can. Basically Willow starts to see how different she's become in the last two years, she gets the chance to right old wrongs and to rediscover who she once was. Once Alex, a boy she once had a huge crush on enters the picture the book picks up considerably and Willow doesn't mope around quite as much. Alex along with his mom are old friends of Willow's family, he's several years older than her and they used to hang out all the time together. She has had a crush on him for years and one night she decided to finally tell him how she felt but after it all went horribly wrong and other complicating factors arose, she forgot or at least made herself forget about Alex so when he just shows up one day out of the blue at her work her whole world shatters again and she finds that the flame she once thought she had extinguished for him has actually burned bright, hidden away all these years.
First of all, this is a very light read and PG-Rated. There are no detailed sex scenes even though the topic is touched on here and there. It's just a light warm hearted tale. The authors writing style is nice to read and she's does an excellent job of telling the story in the 1st person perspective. Willow's internal monologue is top notch, the characters are for the most part believable and it was a fun story to read. I only had one minor problem with it (which was the same problem I noticed another reviewer had too) and that was when Willow and Alex first get together and finally enjoy a day out for the first time after being separated for years the author doesn't show you anything, instead she tells you. The whole conversation that I really really wanted to hear is just glossed over. Instead of getting to read what they're saying to each other you get an internal monologue which states: "we have fallen into something resembling a comfortable banter." Normally this doesn't bother me that much but with this book it just felt wrong. Out of every single scene in the book that was the one I would have really liked to read more of. I just wanted to know what they were saying to each other. It's like waiting for that one kiss throughout a whole novel only for the book to end just as they lean towards each other. Not good. On a good note, it does seem that the author has learned form this and I haven't found another such example in any of the books she wrote following this. It wasn't really enough to ruin the book for me, it was still a great read that I would recommend to others but I wish she had gone through with the conversation instead of just telling us they had easy banter, grrr.
All in all I had a good time reading the book. It wasn't ground-breaking or a book that completely kicks you in the chest or anything (reviewers note: the only time getting kicked in the chest rocks is when a book does it) but it was a good fun read. No love triangle, no dramatic plot twists of forgotten/buried memories, no hot and steamy scenes just a light romance about a girl finally catching the one who got away.