Top critical review
A MIXED BAG (**SPOLIER ALERT**)
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2021
This is hard for me to rate simply because Riley Edwards made the serious mistake of joining her work with Susan Stokers on this!! In her own right, Riley deserves five stars, but she chose to couple her story with the abysmal failure that was Susan's contribution! In light of that glaring mistake, she gets unfairly lumped into my two star review.
All I can say for the first half of this collaboration is that I want the last hour and of my life and my $3.99 back! I don't know what I just read, but it wasn't a story. It was essentially 90% paraphrasing of events, "telling" instead of "showing" which is a cardinal sin in writing! I don't want you to tell me "Dash and Holly ate dinner, watched a movie, made love and then went to bed". That's not storytelling! Let me see it unfold as it's happening, let me live it with the character. I don't want a summation of events in successive paragraphs; I want to read a damn story! If you also want to read a story instead of a series of paragraphs rattling off a list of stuff the characters did in hindsight, then you should pick another book. Honestly, if Riley James' story of Stella and Magic hadn't been included as part of my purchase price, I'd probably have sought a refund from Amazon because that's how amazingly awful Susan Stoker's telling, and yes, I said telling, of Holly and Dash's romance was!
There literally was no story. I don't just mean no storytelling, which as I've already explained was nonexistent. I mean there was literally no story! No plot. No framework of an actual story. It literally served no purpose. It was essentially a quick telling of this couple's meet cute, then you fast forward a year and there's a quick telling of how things end for them. That's it! Nothing else! That MIGHT be acceptable if there was imaginative storytelling, vividly set scenes, intriguing dialog, and scintillating sex, but no. It's literally a paraphrasing of events that's already happened like it was a grocery list! And it was made even more glaringly deficient because it was followed up by Riley James' evocative work! I truly feel sorry for Susan, but she did it to herself!
Here's an example from the book of what you'll be reading if you chose to waste your time and money, and honestly, folks, this was the best excerpt I could find from Susan's portion, so just know it's all downhill beyond this!
"Hours later, after a delicious meal of steak and lobster: after they drank the entire bottle of champagne; after Holly had texted a picture of her ring to Stella, and gotten a return picture of Stella's own ring that Magic gave her when he proposed; after they'd changed into more comfortable clothes and watched the movie; and after Dash had shown her without words how much she meant to him, Holly lay naked and replete in his arms on the love seat."
If you enjoy reading your "stories" that way instead of living what the character is living as it happens, then you'll like Susan's contribution. But I don't know anyone who enjoys having a story paraphrased! I recommend, if you do buy this book, to just skip ahead to Riley Edwards' portion of it; it's the only redeeming thing about it! Riley actually shows the story happening. She does some telling, as is absolutley necessary in short stories such as these, but she does it properly. It's not a paraphrased list of events, it's colorful, descriptive, engaging, and entertaining, leaving you wanting more!
I don't know if Susan's just burnt out and doesn't care anymore, but she didn't even bother phoning this in! That would have been a step up from whatever this was! It genuinely seemed like she took an hour out of a busy afternoon one day to scribble some crap on a few sheets of paper and sent it - one draft with no edits - straight to publishing! If I were her, I'd be mortified to put my name on this! I'd be even more embarrassed because Riley's beautiful, descriptive storytelling absolutely eclipses hers without comparison! It's a professional embarrassment for Susan, to be sure, and that hurts me to say because I've always been a fan of Susan's work. This was just totally unacceptable and if it's indicative of what I can expect from her from now on, it'll be the last of her work I'll ever read! Pull it together, Susan!
Honestly, if I wasn't familiar with commonly used phrases that EVERY character in EVERY Susan Stoker book says (again, lazy writing) and someone handed me this, I'd have thought some teenager wrote it and posted it on an online storytelling forum. It's THAT bad! I cannot state emphatically enough how much I LOVED Riley James' work, though! She gets 5 stars. I just have no idea why she's publicly pair her work with the laziest, most rudimentary writing I've ever seen from a professional author such as Susan Stoker.