Locked in a library for the long weekend sounds like a dream come true for me… but this novel was a snooze.
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 346
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?
I don’t know what happened, but this has to be my least favourite book by Kasie West. It was still cute, saccharine and romantic goodness. But the characters felt less nuanced, the plot not so credible, and the angst barely there.
I still enjoyed her narrative style, it flows easily and lends to a quick read. I enjoyed the aspect of the protagonist, Autumn, having anxiety disorder – though I feel it could have been explored more, taken more seriously.
Autumn. What to say about Autumn. The anxiety certainly gave her interest, but other than that, she lacked complexity and intelligence. I hate to say it, but she was so bland. Vanilla. #likeeveryotherwhitechick.
Dax showed some promise. A cute, overlooked loner. Hiding pain from a troubled family life. I was waiting for more. Waiting for the twist. But none came. All the characters seemed to be exactly what they were upon first impression. There were no surprises, no big reveals. I think that’s why I found this novel disappointing.
Though, Dallin, one of Autumn’s larrikin friends added some much needed tension, it didn’t put enough pressure on the plot to raise the stakes high enough for me to get really invested. And Jeff, the guy Autumn had been pining over was so agreeable and happy, he was like a cute puppy. I think there was a major opportunity lost in not giving him any more depth of character than that. So too can be said for Lisa, the best friend. Autumn’s clique did little to add to the storyline, other than a static choral of hyperactive, generic teens.
I really loved the concept of this novel, but on the whole it felt under-cooked, under-developed. It lacked the punch that I expect from her writing by now.
On a side note: for some reason my copy of ‘By Your Side’ felt cheaply produced the quality of paper and bind-up was thin and wrinkled. I was in constant fear I’d damage the book just by reading it.
‘By Your Side’ is still a fun read. By no means up to Kasie’s normal standard, but hits all the marks of a soppy romance. Where her books remind me of a satisfying rom-com or cheesy CW show, ‘By Your Side’ felt like a bad Hallmark movie production. I think only die-hard West fans and readers who gorge on romance novels will get anything from this novel, but unfortunately, it’s not one I’m going to recommend freely.
Let’s hope her next release ‘Lucky In Love’ to be released on the 25th of this month returns to her usual writing style and we can chalk ‘By Your Side’ as just a bump in the road.
Overall feeling: it was like warm soup in my hands…
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