Review: Stay With Me

stay with meReviewed by Janell

This book disappointed me, and I feel bad saying that, because I wanted to love it. But that’s what disappointment is, so I’ll get over it. Let me explain.

Hailey is eighteen, a freshman in college, and a superstar. As she explains it, she started as a Gerber baby, then, “I was on the soap until I was five. Then I played Annie in yet another Broadway revival of the show before playing Cosette. And then TV sitcoms and films. And my singing continued as I acted. The tours, the songwriting… It goes on and on.” Also, “I had won a few Grammys and Emmy awards by the time I was fourteen.”

But Hailey hated every single minute of her life. Except for maybe that one time she got to ride a camel. Her mom made her wear slutty clothes and date rock stars, she hasn’t had pancakes or dessert since she was a pre-teen, and she doesn’t even want to be famous. So she leaves her LA life behind and heads to Green College in Burlington, Vermont (hey! I lived there for five years! I can totally fact check this!).

A few weeks into the school year, Hailey is at a party but she sneaks out onto the deck because all these people keep staring at her. There’s a dark, mysterious guy on the deck. He doesn’t say much, but he loans her his jacket, and she has to clench her hands to keep from stroking his face, which is like my number one book pet peeve so I had to scream and regroup when I read that. Hailey thinks a lot while she stares into this guy’s eyes. She’s looking for answers. Then she thinks maybe she shouldn’t trust someone she just met, so she leaves.

Caleb, the guy, has inky black hair. I highlighted nine mentions of his inky black hair, so it’s got to be the inkiest. (Hailey has at least four mentions of long wavy strands of hair, to be fair.) He’s also totally buff and totally trustworthy, because…Hailey just gets this vibe from him. Despite her pre-college mantra that she wouldn’t hook up with any guys until she finds out who she is, she just can’t resist Caleb because he doesn’t treat her like an object. So they kiss, a lot, and then he kisses her all over, and gives her more kisses, in the rain, in the car, in the hallway.

Their first hot and heavy encounter didn’t feel hot and heavy to me, I think because I didn’t get any emotional connection between them. Hailey, despite her career, doesn’t act guarded or worldly. She comes off as more sheltered and spoiled, and very critical of anything in her past. She has trouble accepting praise for anything she’s done, because she is so moving on. Even with the explanation of her horrible horrible mother, I still thought Hailey was ungrateful.

Caleb, meanwhile, is too perfect. I didn’t know why he was after Hailey, aside from the fact that she was famous and/or hot, because they didn’t have a lot of get-to-know-you conversations. Hailey has a big secret that she worries about for most of the book, assuming that Caleb will hate her when he finds out. But Caleb is super awesome (as are his friends and family) and of course he doesn’t hate her because he thinks she is super awesome, too.

I finally got used to their relationship because they kept kissing and having sex (at least it was always protected!). By the end, when they were going at it in the shower, or at her house with buttercream frosting, I believed that they were madly in love. No one could say no to inky black hair and birthday cake.

So, some parts were hot. Some parts were slow. Hailey’s background was sketched in so roughly that I didn’t get enough depth or angst from her. Caleb was entirely drama-free. The writing was mostly good, but repetitive in parts. The Vermont locations were accurate and made me happy, but Caleb didn’t mention how many generations his family had lived there, so I question his birthright.

Grade: C+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Stay With Me
by Elyssa Patrick
Release Date: August 30, 2013

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