Rant, Review

Review: Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison (2021)

Lovelight, Book #1

Heat Factor: It’s not not sexy, but the vibe was definitely in keeping with the cover art

Character Chemistry: Stella and Luca have been in love for NINE YEARS but refuse to a) admit it and b) do anything about it

Plot: Thirty-year-old woman is incompetent at both entrepreneurship and love, figures out how to do both during the course of this book

Overall: I was not a great audience for this book, but there are many people who will totally love it

This book went on my TBR after I saw someone being excited about it last year. I mean, it has a fake relationship between best friends. I love that stuff. Also, it has one of those absolutely gorgeous covers by Ink and Laurel. And then NetGalley had the audiobook up for request so I thought, “Now’s the time!” 

And here we are. 

So. A couple of “me” problems. 

  1. I am SUPER over the single POV romance novel. Maybe this is something I should have expected or learned when I switched from exclusively historical romance, which is almost always written in 3rd dual/omniscient POV, to primarily contemporary romance, which currently seems to favor 1st person dual/single POV. But if a single POV romance is a hallmark of contemporary romance, then it can jump in a lake. The romances that are served by a single POV are 1) slooooooow burns, like the narrator is confused about the possibility of attraction because there are extremely subtle clues, not sweet little kisses every day and sex on the couch and 2) stories that involve one MC withholding information from another MC such that the reveal of that information provides a dramatic twist for the relationship. Neither of which scenarios is the case for this book. 
  2. I am SUPER not excited about protagonists who actively work against their own best interests. This is often a fault of mine, because I get irritated regardless of whether or not the characters are behaving in character. In this case they really are true to character, but I still don’t like it. Other people really feel seen when a thirty-year-old protagonist is finally figuring out that asking for help is okay when they’re overwhelmed by responsibility. Or that taking a risk might reap a greater reward than protecting oneself against one’s fears. I do not feel seen, I feel irritated. Characters who are aware that they’re making bad choices but can’t help themselves, I like. Characters who are complete boneheads, I do not. (This is more a me problem than point 1 because it’s exclusively a preference thing, not a structure thing.)

Okay, so, Lovelight Farms. Stella met Luka shortly after her mom died. She was 21. Nine years later, Stella and Luka are best friends. She lives on her new Christmas tree farm in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and Luka lives in New York but comes to visit Stella often, particularly since his mom also lives in the small town. Stella has been in love with Luka for nine years, and the only reason anything changes between them is that she’s also a very irresponsible business owner who has entered a contest for a 100k cash prize that will resuscitate her failing business. What does Luka have to do with this contest? Well, Stella said that she owned the farm with her boyfriend. Who does not exist. Because she fantasizes about Luka being her boyfriend but doesn’t actually want to do anything to make Luka her boyfriend because changing the status quo that is (very doubtfully) working is scary. Luckily, Luka agrees to be her fake boyfriend. He more than agrees. 

Couple things here: 

I said Stella is an irresponsible business owner. Look, I get she’s new to this job. She wants to see the best in people. But she’s running her business into the ground, depleting her personal savings to the point that she has no money and eats too much ramen, and jeopardizing all her employees’ jobs. Because bad things just…keep…happening at her farm. You know what a business owner does when a shipment goes missing? She gets on the phone with the vendor and figures out WTF is going on and how to fix it. When an entire field of pumpkins is destroyed? She files a police report so she can submit an insurance claim for damaged property. Or if I’m wrong about the insurance, at least so there’s a record of non-natural damage being done in case it becomes an ongoing issue. HELLO?! It isn’t until after the pumpkin patch vandalism occurs that she even thinks to install cameras, and when one alerts her phone one night and she sees a hooded figure smashing the camera, she’s like, “Really? Are you sure?” when Luka tells her to call the cops. Are you running a business or a fantasy land, Stella? 

I was not impressed with her incompetence that bordered on airheadedness. 

Second, Stella has been in love with Luka for nine years, and her excuse for pining for almost a decade with no action whatsoever is that if something were going to happen it would have happened already. This is probably the primary space we should have gotten a second POV, because we have an idea of why Stella’s in stasis (woman’s a scaredy cat), but we have no idea why Luka is as well. Why he finally takes this opportunity to make his move. What are Luka’s fears and motivations? We just don’t know. But he goes from being Stella’s platonic bestie to being a first rate boyfriend in about thirty seconds. He’s no Bonny Tarleton, but he lays his cards on the table pretty early on, not only acting the part, but suggesting to Stella that they spend the week of fake dating as a trial period of real dating. And just…how self-delusional do you have to be not to realize that people don’t give people they’re not interested in multiple sweet little hello kisses because the first one wasn’t enough? 

I was not impressed with Stella’s unwillingness to trust Luka, either with the truth of…almost any of her problems OR with her heart. There’s commentary about things that Luka has done for her in the past, but there’s not a ton of on-page textual evidence to support that Stella is willing to trust Luka. You know what the foundation of a good relationship is? Trust. Does Stella trust Luka at all? Not with asking him to be her fake boyfriend. Not with the circumstances of the farm. Not even about calling the police while there is an actual trespasser acting maliciously on her property right in the moment. Why am I supposed to believe that she suddenly does trust him with everything at the end? She’s been invited to Thanksgiving at his house FOR NINE YEARS and doesn’t go because it’s too close to what she actually wants her life to be like. If she’s withholding that much of herself from the relationship they already have, is it actually the best and most important relationship in her life?

Anyway. Women sabotaging themselves is not my jam, but if it’s yours, there are a lot of people who are totally squeeing about this book.

Structurally speaking, I wanted to note that the pacing is slow. This is a gentle small town romance, and I don’t think Pippa Jayne’s narration was the reason that I felt things weren’t really moving. Her voice is somewhat somnolent, but it was in keeping with the sentence structure and pacing of the story. I listen to books at the fastest pace I can and still have the narration sound normal, so I was listening at 1.25x speed, and I still felt like I was lazily wending my way down a scenic, slow-moving stream. There were a few moments that I felt Jayne’s emphasis was on the wrong word or that she hadn’t emphasized the action in a sentence or scene quite the way it seemed it should have been, but it was a very dulcet narration. 

Even though there were several secondary characters I really enjoyed, I probably won’t continue the series. It’s just not for me. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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