Sometimes a book just doesn't live up to its predecessor. It's unfortunate, but true. Sometimes the first book in a series just has something, some sort of oomph, that its younger sibling just lacks. That's exactly what the case was here.
I read One Week Girlfriend back in January, and really liked it. It was a new-adult romance in which a guy hires a girl to pretend to be his girlfriend over Thanksgiving break in order to keep his family, with whom he has unhappy relations for several reasons, at arm's length. Of course, they have instant chemistry and a relationship of sorts ensues. All the while Fable (the female protagonist) tried to untangle what exactly what was going on with Drew (the male protagonist) tries to avoid the issue and get the hell back to school as soon as humanly possible. I liked how Drew's issues were handled, the relationship between them...most of the aspects, other than the concept that Fable could "fix" Drew. When the book ended with them splitting up, I wanted to read the next one to see about the reconciliation.
That said, I found this book sadly lacking in the plot that made the first one strong. The first book had this mystery lurking in the background, something you could probably guess at but that had threads that were continually teased out over the course of the book and helped support the relationship plot. This book didn't really have a secondary plot going on; there were a few things happening in the background, but nothing big or overarching that kept me reading to know what exactly was going on. Everything was very explicit here; nothing to be poked or prodded at, nothing to be figured out. The story is basically about Fable and Drew getting back together and Drew trying to move past what happened with his family when he was younger. Drew also has a new therapist and Fable has a new job. They're not together in the very beginning of the book, but they get back together pretty quickly and then there's not a lot of conflict to propel the plot along, just random side things that happen every now and then. Originally it seemed like there was going to be some plot revolving around Fable's new gig, but that was dropped pretty quickly and in such a weird way. Murphy clearly set up to use Fable's boss, Colin, for a third book, but it meant that his total weirdness in this one was just left hanging. And then, at the end, a bunch of stuff happens and BOOM. Done. Happily ever after.
So, what did I like? I liked that, in this one, Drew was seeking actual help for coping with his problems. His therapist helped him tease out the things that were bothering him so he could face them and not get over them, but move past them to a functional life and relationship. Drew and Fable's relationship was also depicted as more supportive than as a "fixing" relationship, which was a nice change from the first book. But Fable needed Drew to do something completely dramatic in order to trust him again, instead of just realizing he'd had a freakout, and that seemed completely unnecessary and I mean, I wouldn't want to be with her if I knew that was what it would take to get her to trust me...
This has some cute scenes, some steamy kisses, but overall it just didn't have the strength of the first book. I'll probably read the other two books in the series, which have different main characters, but I hope that Murphy recovers the charm that One Week Girlfriend had in them, or they'll probably be a bit disappointing.
2 stars out of 5.