If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.
After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.
But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.
Including Ivan Lukov
Buy it – Amazon
I have a lot to say.
This novel was…“pivotal” to me. Everyone has novels that work as kind of a turning point in our own personal plot lines.
Was that corny?
Did that make sense?
Here are a few of my own:
2010 – a quick trip to the library led me to finding the first “true” romance novel I would ever read: Can You Keep a Secret / Sophie Kinsella.
2013 – The last time I’d ever care to read a fantasy novel: The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit / J.R.R. Tolkien
2014 – First classic novels read in class that I ever enjoyed: Fahrenheit 451 / Ray Bradbury & Great Expectations / Charles Dickens
Between those semi-large turning points, are the more smaller points that I hit on a daily basis. The ones that made my route to find new books a bit sharper, and way more specific.
Enter : From Lukov with Love.
The book that helped me realize my dislike of “slow burn” romances, and stories over 380 (or so) pages.
I’m not going to blame my new-found dislikes entirely on Marianna Zapata. Her stories are amazing, and I have a few downloaded on my Kindle that will always be on top of my recommendation list (with caution of course) Also, I’m always down to support women of color. These “new” issues have formed from the culmination of thoughts I’ve had since the beginning of 2017.
Marianna is an extremely successful and popular, self-published author. The last book of hers that I enjoyed was The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, that was published back in 2016. Winnipeg, and Kulti are her most successful and well acclaimed novels. I feel more confident critiquing her, as opposed to other self-published authors, because she’s huge and her reach is LONG.
From Lukov with Love was a solid story. It got from the beginning to end (albeit it took FOREVER), and it kept my attention with the unique storyline. (Self admittedly, I’ve only read stores abut hockey players. I’m on a quest to find a few about ice skaters now.)The odd thing is, as long and boring as it was, I did want to finish the story.
The romance that bubbled under all the other shit was inticing and memorable. But it never seemed to reach that important tipping point necessary in romance.
- This book was long as hell.
I said this above, Zapata was not the author that made me realize that I disliked longer novels. That award belongs to another author I’m not going to mention.
… I’ve…noticed something.
The majority of romance novels I read are self-published, and I love supporting and reading those authors. Yet…I’ve observed a consistent issue…
I’m not a grammar Nazi. As long as the book doesn’t read like it’s written by a five-year-old, I don’t mind.
Content editing seems to be the issue.
Since a lot of self-published authors give the final say on how their books enter the world, a lot of the times, there may be no one sticking their head in the door and yelling:
“Uh…hey…uh…about twenty scenes in your second act are unnecessary.”
And if there is someone telling them that? They don’t have to listen. While that freedom may be nice, in some ways, I feel like it can compromise the quality level.
The love story bubbling in From Lukuv with Love was buried under useless family tidbits, and internal dialogue.
I understand the importance of building scenes vs. plot scenes, but to a certain point, the reader is just like…
Why is this here?
Why am I reading this?
And in regards to From Lukov with Love….
Why have there been 4342434 family dinner scenes?
Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond?
Last summer I did a quick evaluation of my bookshelf. I rediscovered a book I absolutely loved in high school. Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married. This was one of those books that I reread CONSTANTLY. I have it on ebook, I own the physical, I checked it out at the library.
I attempted to reread the book for the first time in almost five years….and failed.
It is 700 pages long. 300 of those pages could have been deleted. And honestly…I can’t think of a single contemporary romance novel that has NEEDED to be over 300-400 pages
- Is this a romance?
I would catalogue it as “chick-lit”.
Many claim this book to be “slow burn”, a term the author has coined. I disagree.
Maybe I’m wrong. But IMO slow burn stories have the ability to hold tension, conflict, and the development of a relationship for an extended amount of time. The author was able to do this in the Wall of Winnipeg and Me, but here? No.
Even though this book was long as hell, the relationship of the protagonists…didn’t happen. Typically in a friends to lovers type romance…you see they are –
HOLD UP. WAIT A MINUTE.
It was advertised as an enemies to lovers story.
I would say that the first 25% of the book had pieces of an enemies to lovers trope…but the rest seemed like a bit of a friends to lovers trope.
Neither was fleshed out.
By the end, in my head they were still friends. We all know that there are important points to hit in a romance novel. Points that make the development of said relationship more believable. There were no pivotal moments that signaled the start of their relationship. No little kisses. Just leg hitting and hugs. I think the first time they kissed or had sex (not sure, I skimmed the end) was the LAST chapter. About 95% in. Flash forward to the epilogue, they’re married with like 4048293 kids.
Their relationship simply was not believable. While their romantic relationship wasn’t developed, the heroine herself was. The story was not focused around the couple…it centered growth the heroine needed.
I’m talking pages upon PAGES about the heroine’s upbringing, and why she is the way she is.
Sigh let me figure out her name.
JASMINE. Jasmine is insecure, sad, and a bit depressed about where she is in life. Lukov helps her learn her worth, and through skating they build a solid friendship. Hundreds of pages were dedicated to Jasmine, but I just didn’t care.
There were a few tidbits about the hero’s background, but from the heroines perspective…all we got that was he seemed to have a crush on her, he was rich, and liked to fight with her.
A few leg touches, shared glances, a hug. That was the buildup we got for the romance. A leg bump…and they’d go back to talking about why Jasmine loses all her competitions. A shared glance…and they’d go back to talking about why Jasmine has so many daddy issues.
In a romance novel, the romance itself is the main focus. Here’s how the rwa defines romance.
Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
I was not emotionally satisfied.