Trying Not to Love You by Megan Smith

It always surprises me how many college romance novels pretty much leave out the concept of schoolwork completely.

What’s it About? 

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MacKenzie Cahill has dealt with overbearing and overprotective brothers her entire life, making it near impossible to enjoy her teenage years. Having a boyfriend was practically impossible until she met a guy that wasn’t afraid to stand up to them – Dominic. He was sweet, thoughtful, and everything MacKenzie ever wanted in a man. But when they go away to college at Old Dominion University, MacKenzie sees a whole new side of Dominic and begins to wonder if he really is different from every other guy. Her world is turned upside down after a party, and her brothers’ best friend Hunter is the one there to offer her a shoulder to cry on. The chemistry between them is electric, and feelings for each other that have been hidden for years are finally voiced. Is Hunter willing to be disloyal to his best friends in order to be with the one girl he’s always secretly wanted?

First Impressions

Alright, I know it’s something silly to get so upset about, but for some reason I get really peeved when a college romance completely ignores the fact our couple is actually in college. This novel is definitely guilty of it to the nth degree. Now, I get it, writing about going to class and studying for exams isn’t exactly the most thrilling concept to a plot, but come on!! It at least gives a sense of realism to the story. When it comes to this book, I seriously think we only get one mention of MacKenzie going to an actual college class, and I don’t even know if we get the name of the class.

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The only other educational mentions we get are MacKenzie’s undergraduate major, and the fact that she made it through her fall semester exams no problem. Beyond that, it’s just a constant slew of parties, relationship drama and weekend trips home. While I’m positive this probably does encapsulate many people’s college experiences, what can I say? Not something I find particularly interesting or relatable. Now, you give me a tale about a couple struggling to keep their relationship on track due to the time commitment of school? That I get. Hell, I’d settle for them just being part of the same damn study group!

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A Revealing Synopsis

This novel is sort of divided into 2 main sections. The first deals with MacKenzie going off to college with her long-term high school boyfriend, Dominic. The second half of the novel sees her moving on from her relationship with Dominic to finally explore a relationship with her lifelong crush, Hunter, who also happens to be her brothers’ best friend since childhood. I know what you’re thinking, kind of a spoiler alert isn’t it? After all, if she’s exploring something with Hunter that must mean her relationship with Dominic doesn’t last very long. Well, no spoilers here, as it’s all pretty much laid out and heavily implied as to how things end in the synopsis. Honestly, I wish this aspect had been concealed from us as the audience rather than basically spelling it out from the get-go. It simply would have made for a more intriguing read.

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Tales of the Unfaithful

It doesn’t take very long for us to realize that Dominic has been cheating on MacKenzie during the brief time he spent at school without her. OK, maybe a mini-spoiler, but honestly I don’t even care because it’s so blatantly obvious. It seems like every character in the novel knows about Dominic’s wandering eye, save one: MacKenzie. At first you can’t help but think, God how unbelievably naive can she be?! There are just so many moments where he has to explain away a seeming misunderstanding about his presence with another woman that you just wanna shake MacKenzie and tell her to wake up already.

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Eventually though, we come to realize that MacKenzie has been paying attention to all the clues, and even suspects that Dominic has been cheating on her. However, she’s been delaying confronting him directly, as she’s trying to latch on to just a small piece of her life back when things were simple and seemingly perfect. Honestly it was kind of a sad admission, and probably the most relatable part of the novel. I’m sure we’ve all experienced moments in life where we’ve tried to avoid change by keeping our eyes shut tight.

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From Crush to Reality

The second half of the novel deals with MacKenzie and Hunter finally opening up about their true feelings for each other. This is when the novel hits its sexy stride. Unfortunately, it’s also where I became increasingly frustrated with the progression of the story. For some reason which is never fully explained, MacKenzie’s brothers are entirely opposed to the idea of Hunter and MacKenzie getting together. Now, I can certainly assume some reasons they might be upset, but the only objection which is actually articulated is, “Dude, that’s my sister. Stay away from her!” Such an…eloquent objection.

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What’s so frustrating about this aspect of the story though is that it actually results in Hunter and MacKenzie not only arguing about their relationship, but also questioning it. I think I almost would have preferred we learned that Hunter was a womanizer, as it would have provided a more legitimate reason for her brothers to be so ridiculously and vehemently opposed to the idea of them getting together. Not to mention for MacKenzie to question if Hunter is right for her. Personally it made me question if the two were even right for each other considering how much they fought about it.

Series: Love You, book 1. Shockingly, this book ends on a crazy cliffhanger which I always find frustrating. Consider yourself warned!

Should you read it? Not my fav. I had trouble falling in love with any of the characters. MacKenzie comes across as pretty whiny and immature, which was definitely enhanced by the audiobook narrator’s intonations. Almost Valley Girl-esque. As for Hunter, he has his sweet and flirtatious moments, but also a fair number where he’s yelling at MacKenzie for some stupid overblown reason. There’s a crazy plot twist near the end I wasn’t expecting, and that I wasn’t altogether very fond of. Oh well, what can ya do?

Smut Level: We have some sexy moments, including a bathtub scene and an isolated cabin sexy weekend getaway. These two have desired each other for years, and they intend to make their time together count. Until her brothers get all butt hurt of course.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 291 Pages.

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6 thoughts on “Trying Not to Love You by Megan Smith

  1. I agree with your comments on school work in college romances. I wrote a book series set on a college campus and made one of her professors a main character. There was lots of mentions of homework and class schedules, but they were all important to plot and character development in my novels. I will admit this is challenging. I had to write out what Sara’s class schedule was so that I didn’t have her off doing something when she should have been in class! I didn’t realize I needed to do this until I finished the first book and started editing. I ended up going back and having to readjust a few scenes where she was (unintentionally) skipping class. Sara’s a straight A student, so skipping class wasn’t going to happen. College romances are tricky in that it’s not like working around a Mon-Fri office job schedule where most of the action takes place at night or on the weekends. I can understand why some authors intentionally ignore classes. It takes a lot more effort to tie in your plot around school schedules. It is worth the effort though.

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