Worthy of Love? by J. Lea

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This book is a mix of good and bad, depending on the audience. Looking back, if I had read this when I was fifteen I probably would have loved it. Now, I’m torn. It’s marketed for adults and has a wee bit of adulthood to it, but mostly it reads like a young adult novel.

It starts out with Lori, who has a secret that leaves her believing that she is unworthy of love, hence the title. Due to said secret and the suicide of her father, which is partly due to this secret, her mother moves her and her brother across the country to Colorado. Here, she believes she can have a fresh start, supported by her best friend Elias. It’s the summer before her senior year of high school and she meets perfect Parker. They go out a few times and it turns into love. Then, another secret pops up that tears them apart. Can their love endure? It is a romance novel, so you guess.

It was refreshing to have a male character who is not an alpha male beating on his chest and throwing the willing maiden over his shoulder. I enjoyed how he was respectful and when they first meet it’s appropriately uncomfortable, yet intriguing. Most relationships that begin between strangers have that awkward, self-conscious period in the beginning. Most romance novels now skip right over that, because everybody is beautiful, sure, and cocky. Not here; it was far more realistic.

An important part of the story is the abuse she suffered when she was fourteen. It was mentioned right away, so it’s not one of the big, bad secrets. As the memories briefly appeared, they were predictable and read like many other books that lack detail. Still, they were hard to read. It’s never easy to read about an innocent teen suffering in such a manner. Surprisingly, since it was a catalyst for the story, it didn’t actually get that much attention. I feel it would have had more impact if there was more to it. In all, it probably saw about twenty pages out of three-hundred.

The secret of Parker was painfully obvious from the moment she met him. I liked him, though; he was a generally sweet guy who winked a little too much and called her ‘honey’, which made him sound older than he was, but he was still nice. Sadly, his jealousy got old very quickly. Since I had been well prepared for the “surprise”, I was disappointed that he handled it just like a teenager. He was twenty-five, but acted sixteen, but she was eighteen going on sixteen, so they were a perfect match.

Her big, dark secret was also something else that was extremely predictable. In my opinion, it was a disappointment. I had expected something horrific, like she killed her molester, or she had cancer, anything that was truly life-shattering. She continually stated that it made her unlovable, and I can see how it would be a huge life adjustment, but it was hardly something that should hold her back. If someone can’t love her for this small detail, they are the ones who are unworthy of love.

I read the print version, so I do not know what the digital version looks like. This one was obviously translated. From what language, I do not know. There were many typos and sentences that did not flow correctly. The spacing was off and there were times I thought that maybe it was the start of a new scene, only to find that there were extra spaces added that meant nothing. Then, there were many instances where there was one extra space, but it actually was a new scene. It was confusing, and overall, I had to constantly look back a paragraph to figure out what was happening.

It’s not all bad. For a teenager, it could be a dream come true fairy tale. For an adult, it could be an annoyance or it could be a sweet, yet shallow love story. It all depends on the reader. This author has more than one book and they each have raving reviews, so it is up to you to decide. I feel that the author tried to make a good story, but the build-up was an utter disappointment. Everything was predictable, including the ending. Would I read it again? No. Will I read anything else by this author? It’s doubtful, especially since this was supposed to be an adult book, but clearly wasn’t.

Now, for the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – It’s a romance and supposedly for adults, but it read just like YA fiction.
  • Level of sexuality – She thought about it a lot. There were a few scenes that contained magic fingers or tongue, and arousal on both sides, but they were extremely minor and the dirty deed was described as “worshipping each others’ bodies all night long”. The wee bit included was anything but enticing.
  • Was there graphic language? I think once, maybe twice.
  • Did I cry? I admit to shedding one tear of relief.
  • Did I laugh? I didn’t, but there were moments that I believe were meant to be funny.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – I found it a bit poor, but not to the point where I threw it against the wall. It was first person Lori and I found her a bit lacking, Parker was very one-sided, and the only character I actually appreciated was her loyal, goofy best friend Elias.

I really wish I could give this more stars, but I felt misled. I picked it up partly because of the beautiful cover and partly because the blurb made it sound mysterious. Unfortunately, there was no mystery and it was just another predictable teenage drama. If I was still in high school, I would probably give it more stars, but as a grown woman, I have to give it ⭐️⭐️ stars. I think the author put forth a good amount of effort, but it was not what I had expected and it didn’t have the deep, dark, painful secrets that it alluded to. While it was definitely not for me, I suggest you find out for yourself.

Available here on Amazon

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