BLOG REVIEW: This Time by Marie Hall

23y.o. book editor has a hard time moving on with her life 

apart from her high-school boyfriend who still has a hold on her.
Tonight she's reached her limit with him and she goes to drummer-tattoo artist Hero to escape. 
26y.o. Hero has wanted heroine for years but didn't want to intrude on her rocky relationship with her boyfriend. He's done wanting from afar & decides to finally do something about it tonight.
They agree to a 1-night stand,
although Hero wants more with her. 
She's wracked with even more guilt than before.
Especially when she finds out that she's pregnant from her 1-night-stand with Hero. He is as shocked as she is and they deal with it together, making the most of it.
Heroine learns to be happy with Hero and their impending family together.
However, her lingering ties with her ex-boyfriend and his family don't sit well with Hero.
And, when she finally makes her choice, will it be too late for her and Hero?

This is my 3rd Hall book and I didn't like it as much as Right Now (review here) and A Moment ( review here). Firstly, I don't much care for romances with a heroine who's torn between two men.  It's palatable when it's clear early on that heroine's feelings for Hero is much more intense than the other man (OM) and most of the book is about her developing love for Hero. Well, this book had heroine struggle between her feelings for Hero and her ex-boyfriend throughout the whole book. So quite a bit of the book's content was about her love for OM: when it was strong and when it died down.  The portrayal of a losing your love for another man due to life circumstances 

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

Heroine had been with her ex-boyfriend since she was age 15. She was head over heels in love with him and they had a great relationship. They planned on getting married and starting a family after college. And she became a vital part of his family and was closer to his parents than her own. A few weeks before starting college, however, she and her boyfriend (OM) had a car accident, which caused some brain damage and consequent personality changes in OM. This was what precipitated OM's worsening drug use and serial cheating. Yet heroine hung on to their declining relationship for the next 5 years, which includes the present. She felt responsible for his welfare and had the patience of a saint, forgiving him time and time again for his drug use and cheating. What made it hard was that she knew that his personality change was due to his brain damage so she made excuses for his misbehaviors and felt guilty for not loving him as much as before. She continued to hope that with time and the right behaviors OM would revert back to the man she fell in love with. Distance from him helped her get a more realistic perspective on things. But when she'd see or hear from him again, those old feelings of love, nostalgia, hope, and guilt would push her back towards wanting her fairy-tale life with OM again. 

At the time that she met Hero, she and OM had officially broken up for a year. But they still kept in touch almost daily with each other and she basically put her life on hold for him. She hadn't even unpacked the boxes in her apartment, hoping that OM would finally get better this time around and she'll get the life she was supposed to have with him. 

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

and what happens when you find love with someone else yet still care for your old love was realistic.  I appreciated that but the almost-equal focus of her feelings for her ex-boyfriend in this book wasn't something that appealed to me. And her repetition of regretting losing her perfect life & romance with OM before the big change, despite all the years she struggled in her romance with him was disconcerting. It made it seem like Hero wouldn't even have a chance with her, if she & OM never had their major setback.

Secondly, heroine's love for Hero seem about equal to her love for her ex. I like romances with main characters who have a strong love for each other. Not just unequaled to any other lover but greatly surpasses what love or even lust they've felt for anybody else, making any previous love/lust for others seem super-miniscule in comparison. Unfortunately, I couldn't say that about this book. The amount of time, energy, and focus spent on heroine getting over OM and finally choosing Hero showed how strong her feelings were for OM, despite that she and Hero had been living together for months and were about to have a baby. Hero was near-perfect in his devotion to heroine. He verbally and behaviorally displayed his love for her. He deserved a gold-star for his understanding and patience with her waffling with OM. I believed that if she never got pregnant with his baby, she would've continued waiting on OM and let Hero go forever. OM had that kind of hold on her heart and mind. Hero had to restrain her from talking to OM and even reminiscing about her good ol' days with OM by sexing up her and romancing her with his kindness, generosity, and love. I felt sorry for Hero because he really was her 2nd choice. Since OM was pretty much a lost cause and she was fast realizing it, Hero became more and more appealing as time went on. 

Thirdly, I'm not sure if its the overall writing or the result of heroine's emotional indecision between the 2 men. But the writing didn't seem as tight as Hall's other books. I got a solid feel for the characters and their romance with her other books. With this one, I felt like I didn't know Hero as much. He had some brokenness in his past but it didn't feel angsty. His character didn't pull me in emotionally overall. He may have been too perfect of a Hero, supporting heroine, loving her and waiting for her to get a clue and choose him.  Heroine didn't interest me as much either. Her severe co-dependence with her ex and his family made her seem like she was on her ex's side (versus Hero's). It was a strange phenomena. Heroine was so enmeshed with her ex and his family that she was actually opposing her own health and happiness. When she was in contact with them, it was as if her present life with Hero could be easily forgotten. She was easily sucked into her previous life with her ex and his family that she would automatically do things that, in her own viewpoint, was not healthy. But she would do them anyway because she felt like she owed them. In many ways, this book was more like heroine's transition away from her toxic co-dependence on her destructive ex and his enmeshed family. Her unborn baby, Hero, and time and distance from OM and his family were the instruments that gave her the strength to cut ties and move on with her life.

The romance was good and developed realistically. It took months for it to build and it became more solid the further she was from her ex and his family and the more time she spent with Hero. I think they likely will have a HEA(happy ever after). The ending ensured that she wouldn't want OM in her life. Maybe for a long time. Maybe forever. 

I moderately recommend this book.
3-star


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