What a mixed bag this book was!
I have a thing for unrequited love stories where the heroine is in love with her best friend, but he doesn’t know it and already has a girlfriend or starts dating someone else. It’s probably because a long time ago this happened to me, but I didn’t get a happy ending, so I really enjoy the part where the heroine gets the guy, but even more the part where the guy dumps the other woman. Clearly, I have issues. So yeah, once I read the blurb, I got the book and didn't put it down until I finished it. Unfortunately, this only reflects my own reading preferences and not the actual quality of the book, which I found mostly lacking, although it’s not without some merit.
Something happened to Sophie that made her hate Valentine’s Day. So every year she gets together with her best friend, Sam, to watch crappy movies. But this year Sam cancelled because he has a date with a woman he thinks has the potential of being the one. The news are particularly bad for Sophie, because she just realized that she’s in love with him, and everything gets even worse when she falls and breaks her arm.
Sam’s new relationship and her accident should force Sophie to confront the reality of her life, which isn’t pretty. After some hard truths and lots of whining she, well, she does nothing except at the very end, when she makes some changes in her life and manages to get the guy. But the road to that was paved with pity parties. Lots and lots of pity parties.
This book doesn’t know if it wants to be Romance or Chick-Lit. Sophie’s first person POV narrates the story which is somewhat about her personal journey, but her relationship with Sam gets a lot of page time, so it takes away from the character development, while at the same time managing to not have much of a romance. Perhaps the label that better fits it is Romantic Comedy, because it follows the same pattern and the heroine goes through some situations that are obviously meant to be funny, but made me cringe.
Sophie wasn’t a great character. She had broken dreams and childhood traumas, but her way of dealing with it was punishing her family and hiding. Her reasons were valid, but because all she does is whine, my perception of her went from woman trapped in a transitional stage of her life, to a coward incapable of taking on an active role in the improvement of said life. The right elements were there, but the sloppy execution turned her character into a mess. This book needed more focus on her internal struggle than on the unrequited love angst.
The secondary characters were fine. Sam, the love interest, had a sweet disposition and their friendship felt authentic, albeit slightly needy on her part (and now that I think about it, on his part as well). I’m not sure if I liked him, but I didn’t dislike him. Sophie’s dad and brother also have minor roles in the book, but the character development was so poor, that I’m still not quite sure what to make of their relationship.
The merits I mentioned before? The book is highly readable and oddly engaging. So I’m giving it a very generous three stars, mostly because I couldn’t put it down, and that has to be worth something, right?
Review by Brie
All Sophie wants for her thirty-third year is a calendar without a February—and without a Valentine’s Day. The unlucky month haunts her with regrets, loss, and missteps she can never take back. But this year, she’s determined to make a change— and she’s going to start with telling her best friend, Sam, how she feels about him.
But February isn’t making it easy for her. Sam’s got a date with his dream girl, and Sophie finds herself in the hospital. Then there’s her father, who has a surprise that’s about to turn her world upside-down, and her little brother, who doesn’t seem to have any room for her in his life. While everyone else seems to be living life, Sophie is stuck in neutral.
Now, Sophie must come to terms with everything that’s holding her back in order to fight for what she wants before she loses the chance to turn her luck around.
33 Valentines by Stephanie Monahan
Entangled Publishing LLC. January 21, 2013.