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The Do-over needs a do-over
Commenté au Royaume-Uni 🇬🇧 le 1 septembre 2022
I have a love-hate relationship with T L Swan’s books, and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
I’m not sure what happened with this series, but it went from good, to better, to bad, to the worst.
My biggest problem with The Do-Over is the main characters…which is a pretty big problem to have.
Christopher is the child of nepotism. A spoilt, rich playboy who has no worries or perception of what reality is like for most people. He loves sleeping around and doesn’t see that changing. Turns out he doesn’t like hearing the truth though, because some mild remarks from his brothers, and a date (who he calls the worst in history despite being “beautiful, smart, and sweet”) telling him he’s kinda shallow, leads him to decide backpacking for a year, without the trappings of money and luxury, is the way he’ll find himself.
Okay. Sounds promising to start. I like a redemption story.
However, the problems immediately begin when Christopher gets to Spain.
First day there he’s publicly insulting someone for not wearing deodorant, then repetitively calling a woman a “gorilla” because she has body hair.
Then, problem number two shows up.
She is probably joining my list of least favourite heroines (Christopher can go to hero purgatory too). I can’t put my finger on exactly why I couldn’t connect with her, other than to say she’s simply unpleasant at certain points in the book (as is Christopher!).
Perhaps some people out there find insults endearing. I’m not one of those people. Therefore, her calling Christopher a “d***head” and an “idiot” repeatedly had me “screwing my face up” (to use one of the author’s repetitive phrases).
In what way is someone who huffs, snaps, and demands a “empathetic, warm, calming, and kind” person? Look, we all have our moments, but let’s not pretend Hayden is a charming Southern belle!
A great example of this is when she wakes up one morning and Chris looks like he is intensely worrying about something. Haydens reaction?
“Ugh…so not in the mood for his dramatics today.”
Then, when he—the man she has declared is the one—says he’d like her to come with him to get coffee, she responds:
"I exhale heavily and flick the blankets back. “Fine.”
Ah yes, such empathy this woman has…..
I’m still laughing over a moment when Chris offers to carry her bag too:
“I am quite capable of carrying my own backpack, Christopher,” I huff. “Don’t insults my intelligence.”
?? Well, okay then…..
Christopher calls her “Grumps” from the moment they meet, and it couldn’t be more fitting. I have no idea why he later refers to her as having a “warm and happy disposition” because I certainly didn’t see it throughout the book.
Not to mention, Hayden is full of contradictions. On one hand, Christopher is a “d***head” and “idiot” for getting jealous and fighting a guy who was coming onto his girlfriend, yet when he does the same thing to Regi—Hayden’s ex—who is also coming onto his girlfriend, suddenly he’s her “knight in shining armor”…
Most of the book is these two hanging out doing random things that I expect most eighteen year olds do when they go backpacking, followed by, eventually, the reveal that he’s actually rich and loves beluga caviar like most people love cheese pizza. Unsurprisingly, Hayden doesn’t take that mic drop well. Equally unsurprising is that Christopher hasn’t changed since the start of the book.
He still yells and throws fits, still loves his nepotism money, still needs sex like it’s air, still won’t compromise or try and see things from someone else’s perspective. Same guy, just better living conditions. Really the only difference is that he isn’t dating supermodels anymore.
Huge character growth.
The point where he really plummeted into the depths for me was when Hayden was (rightly) upset, feeling disconnected and like her life had been derailed due to Christopher’s need to live in the city. Does he have any sympathy? Nope! It’s all eye-rolls and unreasonable demands.
Of course, in the end, things work out and some compromises are made, but at that point it had somewhat become lost in the wishy-washy nature of their relationship. Hayden went from confident grumpster to wallowing doormat. Christopher went from spoilt rich boy to…well…spoilt rich boy.
I actually thought they were pretty toxic together at times, which doesn’t really bode well for a romance. The amount of yelling and spitting they do is next level. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a couple of sweet moments hidden in here, but for me they were overshadowed by all the other less-sweet stuff going on.
Overall, character development was pretty non-existent. The chemistry and romance was lacking. Even the steam was mediocre in comparison to the earlier books in this series. And what makes this such a shame is that, unlike a fair few other romances out there, there’s no insta-love in T L Swan’s books. The relationships usually evolve over long periods of time, which adds to the realism and believability of the character’s connection. It’s something I really like. Probably the main reason why I keep coming back to them.
Here though, we just get snippets with no real substance. Don’t have the character tell us something has changed, show us it has. Give us interactions that mean something. Give us that connection that springs off the page and has you rooting for the couple.
The only redeeming feature in this whole story really was Eddie. In fact, I’d say if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where the H and h would be.
Eddie is the spark that changed things for Chris, not his relationship with Hayden. And considering this is supposed to be a romance…that is quite unfortunate.
Also, some side-notes that I can’t let go of:
* The other backpacking/hostel characters are all tired, overused, and sometimes offensive stereotypes. The smelly guy with dreadlocks? Come on.
* The degradation of women by different characters gets tired REAL fast. It’s hard to believe this was written by a woman at times.
* And don’t get me started on the whole “homeless child who can’t read or write working in a bar in Spain” thing. I mean, I can suspend disbelief, but THAT had me laughing out loud, and not for the right reasons.
In conclusion, out of the whole Miles High series, I’ll still re-read The Stopover (Emily is a good heroine) as well as The Takeover (Tristan is the best of the Miles brothers by FAR). While they weren’t perfect, I was invested from start to finish and didn’t find myself wanting to skip pages looking for the story.
Sorry to say that, for me, what The Do-Over needs is exactly that. A do-over.
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