dating in retrospectRating: 3.25 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novella

Fifteen years ago, Clay Keller graduated college and left behind the love of his life to pursue his dream career. Now Clay is back at his alma mater, and his ex, Aaron Grant, is assigned to escort him until he gives the commencement speech. But Clay only has eyes for Aaron, and he vows he’s going to win Aaron back.

They agree to date for a year so Clay can try and prove to Aaron just how serious and committed he is. Long distance is hard, but they get together every month or so for very memorable and original dates. As the months move on, the two men realize that they still love each other completely. But when the secret Clay has been keeping comes out, Aaron gets hurt and runs. Now the two men have to figure out exactly what they mean to one another if they have any hope of the happily ever after they long for.

So the premise of this one caught my attention, and being a huge sucker for reunion romances, I was quick to snap it up. I have to say, however, that the execution missed the mark for me. And while I enjoyed parts of this story, on the whole, I found it a bit lacking.

As I said, the premise for this book was intriguing, and I found it cute in the telling. Clay and Aaron have been apart for a long time and Clay woos Aaron back with over the top and amazing dates. I liked that we got to see a lot of different attractions in Iowa, and the festivals and sights that go along with them. I thought Aaron and Clay were pretty well crafted, and though I would have liked to understand them better, they were cute and obviously well suited to one another. Their chemistry, while not exactly explosive, definitely sparked so their romance was nice.

But I had a problem with the style and pacing. Everything moved really fast, and so it was hard to find the connection between the two MCs. They’re back together for half a sec, there’s barely any interaction, and they agree to try dating for a year. Now, I just had to jump in and go with it, but I wasn’t really feeling it. There was just not enough explanation, not enough conversation, and not enough showing of their feelings for it to be really believable.

And this was the case throughout the whole story. While the dates were original and enjoyable, and really showcased all that Iowa can be, I wasn’t as absorbed as I should have been because things were just not fleshed out enough. I felt like we were just skimming the surface, floating along a step removed from the story and I wanted more. More depth and more connection. I’m willing to roll along with a premise if I’m particularly engaged, but that was lacking for me here. There just wasn’t enough for me to really get invested. So while on the surface their love was growing as they navigated months of relationship, I didn’t feel it. I had to take the MCs word for it, and it got to be a little frustrating. More conversation and more interaction between the MCs would have gone a long way for me here.

So. The big miscommunication. I could see it coming a mile away, which isn’t a problem for me, but I have to admit that Aaron’s reaction seemed extreme to me. And then they spent even more time apart, after both men realized their mistakes and what they wanted to do to fix it. Even though it only lasted pages in actual reading time, it felt way too long. And it seemed at odds with who the author wanted me to think the characters were.

That being said, the ending was satisfying and adorable in its own way. The secondary characters were well used, and definitely added to the story. And as I said, I liked the originality and interesting locales of the dates. So the story had its high points, and while some aspects didn’t work as well for me, it was a nice story overall.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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