BLOG REVIEW: True Love Story by Willow Aster

24y.o. writer is taken aback to see her her ex-fiance again. 
She’s unsuccessfully tried to forget 34y.o. musician Hero since she broke their engagement almost 3 years ago, 
after he confessed to cheating on her with his cousin’s wife. No other man has been able to surpass the love she still has for him. She’s loved him since the day they met when she was age 18. Although their romance was uncertain during those initial months, they did eventually succumb to their strong attraction. 
They were able to sustain a long-distance relationship, with her in college in New York and him traveling to different cities.  She thought their impending marriage meant they were on their way to a happy life together but his confession changed things.  His constant letters and presents the following months couldn’t repair her broken trust.  
Will the passage of time heal her wounds and allow her to give him another chance?

I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the writing was pretty good. Good emotionality, characterization, and sexual tension. Held my attention. But the betrayal did me in. It was huge. Heroine was betrayed. I felt betrayed. The writer did such a great job of convincing me of Hero and heroine's love for each other when they were together. I felt their love and believed they were as devoted as they said they were to each other. So, when heroine found out Hero was cheating on her the majority of the time they were together, it was jarring. Even though we're already told in the beginning that infidelity was a factor, it was still shocking to see how it played out in their romance.  I couldn't believe that all those love and commitment declarations Hero told heroine was not what it seemed.  It made me re-read the portions of the book when the cheating took place. It put a different spin on their romance. And it allowed me to see how much Hero lied, deceived, and cheated heroine. 

------------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details------------

Hero cheated on heroine with his cousin’s wife (OW=other woman) ever since he and heroine started having sex. That's 1.5 years worth of cheating, lying, and deceiving! In fact, the first time he cheated was within the same week after he and heroine first became lovers. He pursued her and planned a secret romantic getaway with heroine. You'd think after a weekend of finally being together in the way they wanted, he'd be confident and satisfied in their relationship. I guess not. And his reasons for cheating? Weak.

1. He knew he tended to self-sabotage the good in his life. Instead of talking to heroine about it, he kept it to himself and had no accountability for his actions.
2. He believed he was undeserving of good (i.e., heroine loving him) because he’s been so bad. Instead of fighting it & doing something to deserve the good, he readily gave in to his negative belief “lots of times”. 
3. His reason for kissing OW that last time when he and heroine were already engaged was to prove to himself that he could be the kind of husband worthy of heroine.  Instead of telling OW “no” and being firm to avoid any sexual contact with her, he lets her kiss him(!) but stopped before they could have sex. And he proudly told heroine of this accomplishment.

-----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-----------------------------------------------------------

Hero sounded very sincere, in love, and deeply devoted to heroine based on his words and actions when he was with her.This book is told from heroine’s POV(point of view) so we see what she sees. I never would’ve thought that he was repeatedly cheating on her the whole time their romance was building up towards marriage. He purposely lied and deceived her with no intention of ever telling her the truth. He went from playing the loving boyfriend to her to a weak-willed, excuse-making saboteur with OW. He was like 2 different people. 

It's a testament to Aster's writing to make me believe (about 70%) that Hero did change after heroine called him on his infidelity.  That was his moment of revelation. He realized that  his self-sabotaging through cheating could really make him lose heroine forever.  All the actions  he should’ve done before (i.e., being held accountable, openly discussing his fears with heroine) he only started doing after he was caught & she dumped his sorry rear. But, as honest and devoted his letters to heroine seem to be, they were more to ease his guilt and to get her to forgive him and take him back. There was a huge element of self-focus on those love letters. He was confessing his issues and self-realizations to her and she was like his priest who he needed words of absolution from.  His promise of eternal devotion towards her lasted only about a year when he decided to move on by dating another woman. He was big on exaggerating how he felt for her because the actions that followed were much more minimal. Despite all this, he did become less selfish and did some maturing. His almost-3-year celibacy and open vulnerability attest to this. 

Interestingly, Hero and heroine switched in their roles. Before the cheating confession, heroine was the one who was emotionally open, devoted, patient, and let Hero set the pace of the relationship. Hero held many things back from her, contacted her at his convenience, and had no qualms kissing and flirting with other women. After the confession, Hero stayed celibate for heroine, laid his heart out to her, and waited for her. Heroine, on the other hand, set the pace of their relationship, contacted him at her whim, and had "lots of sex" with other men. A switch of power. I liked that there was an epilogue. It gave us some idea of how they're doing a year later. I'm still not sure about their HEA(happy ever after) though. The trust issue and the switch of relationship power can go either way.

I somewhat recommend this book
2.5-star

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