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Love Story - Jennifer Echols 2.5 stars

If you've never read Jennifer Echols, this should not be your first. She is one of my favorite YA authors, but Love Story fell apart for me in the 2nd half. Anyone just discovering Echols’ should begin with Going Too Far - one of my all-time favorite YA romances.

I really enjoyed Love Story's set up and much of the first half. It begins with Erin's steamy story for her honors freshman creative-writing class at a New York university. Her story is actually about her very real fantasy about the attractive stable boy that worked on her grandmother's racehorse farm in Kentucky. It's the first day for critique discussions and Erin's story is up…And in walks the inspiration for the story - Hunter has just joined the class.

There's bad blood between the two from their time together in Kentucky. Erin believes Hunter must have been in cahoots with her grandmother and plotting to get her inheritance and tuition funds. Hunter is angry with Erin for not sticking up for him in high school when their classmates called him Erin's "stable boy,” and for Erin generally ignoring him and not being there for him when he needed support the most. So Erin and Hunter begin communicating with each other through their story submissions for creative writing class. She tries to open up dialogue with her steamy and sometimes revealing stories, and explain her behavior in high school (Helloooo, family baggage). Hunter, on the other hand, begins to drive Erin nuts with his writing submissions about promiscuous hookups and lovers. Why is Hunter always leaving the dorms in the dead of night? Are his stories steeped in truth, like Erin’s submissions?

Erin and Hunter’s actual interactions were often strained and awkward. Add to that Hunter’s occasional creepy/asshole/domineering boyfriend tendencies…although they weren’t dating and hardly touched through much of the story. But I was still enjoying it, because I don’t mind a little crazy. I was looking forward to Erin and Hunter revealing their true feelings for one another. The electric kiss, heavy making out “almost scene” and over-too-quickly love scene that is usually a given. But when all of these things happened, I felt nothing. I just didn’t feel the love between Erin and Hunter. The declarations felt completely hollow for me.

Maybe I couldn’t get past a horrible manipulative lie from Hunter. Maybe I was too bothered by Erin seeming to hate Hunter in one moment…and then declare her love for him a few pages later. Or perhaps it was Erin waking up, finding Hunter in her dorm room – uninvited – and packing her suitcase for a trip (remember – occasional domineering creep?) …and her not flipping out and just kind of going along with it (?!?!). Things were just not making sense. To top things off, Love Story had an abrupt ending that left me so unsatisfied and stunned I actually shouted in disbelief. I could not believe the next page was blank.

As I said, I really enjoyed the clever and unique set up of the H/H sharing stories in an intimate, cozy creative-writing class. And I did occasionally hear that voice that I’ve come to love. But overall, Love Story fell short for me.