Thursday, September 27, 2018

Release Day Review: I Like You, I Love Her - J.R. Rogue

I Like You, I Love Her
by J.R. Rogue
Published: September 27, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

In a lot of ways, I was one of the lucky ones. My high school crush liked me back. It should have been magic and fire, but it was tragic and brutal. I wrote it that way, anyways.

His name was Bryan Winthrop. He was our high school basketball star. The prom king. The most beautiful boy I had ever laid eyes on. He liked me — the theatre geek who never should have caught his eye — but he loved her.

It’s been more than 10 years since the homecoming dance. Since the night he kissed me, breaking both of our hearts for the first time.

After the scandal, after graduation, I left our small town and made a name for myself on Broadway, then in Hollywood. I didn’t mean for the play I wrote about our high school affair to blow up. I didn’t mean for it to reach all the way back to my roots, wreaking havoc, wrecking families.

Bryan Winthrop and I were not friends, not lovers.

But I’m back. And for one summer — if she lets us — maybe we can be.

5 Stars
I made EIGHTEEN (18) HIGHLIGHTS during my first read of ILYILH. That's a record.

This is one of those books where I don't want to give away anything, I want you to trust my recommendation and just read it. I don't want to convince you, I don't want to give any little bit up, I just want you to go in with an open mind and I can only hope you find yourself connecting with it the way I did. J.R. Rogue has created characters, a world, a story, that feels like my own without really being my own. The aching hearts, the confusion, the desperation for an answer, the things Severin wants I once wanted, maybe in a different way, but I knew exactly how she felt from beginning to end. I connected with her, I cried even when she didn't, and at the end of the novel I scrolled back to page one and knew I just had to read it again.

"A lie can be a good reason if you repeat it over and over again."

I've just finished a wine, I'm listening to a playlist that is indie rock, and folk, and youthful pain all at once, and I'm reflecting on the journey that J.R. Rogue takes us on in I Like You, I Love Her. We're in a small town, we're privy to only Severin's thoughts, and yet we're all too aware of the natural hierarchies, the thoughts of others, and the damning lust that changes you, for worse and maybe for better, when it dismantles the belief you once had of your simple world. The sort of love that throttles you when it is finally recognized as unrequited. It's love, lust, and heartbreak turned into a beautiful story, brought to life by J.R. Rogue's lyrical prose that manages to make you cry and smile all at the same time. At the same time, J.R. Rogue takes her writing a step further, breaking up her poetic storytelling style with difficult thoughts and jarring events that only further the believability.

"I want to be a different woman, but I am not. I am weak for him. We all have that one."

The story is Severin's, her past and her present and even her future, and yet it feels like I stepped into her shoes and was there too. I knew her addiction to the untouchable Bryan Winthrop, because I found myself addicted to this book in an unhealthy way, and even more so, I found myself addicted to the real Severin that Ben allowed her to be. I knew the feeling of loving both versions of life, but recognizing that the future must follow a certain path even if the other is the kind of path I once pictured my life taking.

"'And how are they? How are things?'
'I think you know. But the lie is sweeter'"

It's rare that I live in my thoughts about a book so much that I can't even start another, but this book trapped me in its pages for about a week. ILY,ILH is more than a romance, it's a fictional journey of self reflection, personal growth, and the dawning understanding that maybe love can't just carry things forward alone. The story isn't simple, it doesn't move in the expected romantic way, and yet it is real, pulling my heart towards it like Severin feels hers pulled too. It's beautiful, raw, and honest, in a way that I find refreshing and relatable. It's just the kind of book you have to read, and maybe you'll dislike it (don't tell me, we'll argue) or maybe you too will fall in love.

Favorite Quote:
"People are always so worried about pulling the Band-Aid off so they choke on their truths, let lies spill out."

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