⭐️⭐️⭐️ Still tied up in the past

The Vow (North Woods University #4)

I was really looking forward to this because the last book in the series was so great, but… I couldn’t help but be disappointed. All of the books in the series have been intense and emotional, taking big chances with their characters’ actions. This one falls short for me because I never felt like these two learned who they are as people – they knew each other in the past (when she was literally a child), and then suddenly they’re sleeping together in the present. It seemed like there were a few steps missing, and Sebastian’s feelings were still tied up in his past.

The story follows Sebastian, the new dean of a university. He once loved a woman he thought would be his forever, but when she died he vowed he would never fall in love again. Ten years have passed and he’s still torturing himself, so when a woman walks into his office who looks exactly like the woman he lost, he’s not sure what to think. Lily, the sister of his dead girlfriend, was only 9 when he last saw her, and now she’s a new student at his college. Seeing her brings up all of the old feelings, and he finds himself instantly attracted. These two struggle with their feelings and the forbidden nature of any relationship they may have, but quickly get swept up in the emotion.

As always, the story is intense and gripped me from the beginning. Something about this team of authors’ writing gets me every time, and even when I don’t totally agree with the characters’ actions, I still get caught up in the story. Unfortunately, I never felt like these two got to know each other. It moves from Sebastian thinking how Lily looks exactly like the woman he lost to them getting sexual VERY quickly, and I’m not convinced that he didn’t just transfer his old feelings onto her. On top of that, the ten year age gap highlighted some pretty major differences in their experience levels – no spoilers here, but I didn’t love the direction that took. It kind of felt like he took advantage of her in some ways, and didn’t feel like a mature relationship. All of the books in the series have made some pretty big swings, and I’m definitely excited to read whatever these two write next because while there are some misses, when they do get it right it’s very good. I received a free copy via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

The Vow by J.L. Beck. My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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