In book review romance

REVIEW: Headstrong Like Us

Title: Headstrong Like Us
Author: Krista and Becca Ritchie
Genre(s):  New Adult, Romance
Release: 19 November 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭/5

"He has this intrinsic need to protect his family. 
And he can't live knowing he didn't try."

Next up, a somewhat controversial review. I started the Like Us series in high hopes a few years back. Over time, however, the writing quality has dwindled, and I was faced with a few disappointments when it comes to the author's creative decisions. I will admit, I didn't go into this book expecting to love it, and I ultimately didn't. But, I was willing to approach Headstrong Like Us with an open mind and let it surprise me. 

Writing-wise, the main plot of this book was the trope (that I think is meant to be a surprise), which, frankly, we didn't see enough of. Farrow and Maximoff's lives take an unexpected turn, and the two become fathers sooner than they planned. While this was the most interesting aspect of the book, and I generally love the adoption/found family trope, the writers failed to properly develop this storyline. The books suffer from a distinct "tell, don't show" quality, which was definitely not there in the Addicted SeriesWhere were the scenes that developed their relationship as a family? The book goes from "Farrow has received guardianship" to "Farrow loves his son now" in one single chapter. 

When I tell you that Headstrong like Us is almost 500 pages,I'm not lying. It really is that big. Instead of developing a genuine interesting story featuring Maximoff and Farrow's new family, these 500 pages were mostly filled with Maximoff finding out his one-night-stand is now his dad's therapist, which was meant to be "shocking" but failed to deliver on that as this man had one single appearance in the whole book. I'm sorry, were we supposed to care about a guy who wasn't introduced once?

Before going in, I feared this would have that novella feel, and I was right. This book felt redundant. Headstrong Like Us had absolutely no business being this long, because, as far as I'm concerned, Maximoff and Farrow's story stopped having some semblance of plot two books ago. K&B keep trying to make their daily lives interesting, and fail to do so after a whole series of the same recycled plot-points. The writing is repetitive (I can't tell you how many times this series has made being stuck in a paparazzi mob some kind of "exciting" storyline), and some character moments feel recycled from their previous books (seriously, how many times are people going to walk in on someone else having intercourse? This stopped being funny three books ago). 

I don't know if it's the specific writing of this book, as they never used to bother me before, but there are also way too many obvious self-inserts. Whether it's K&B's opinions (regarding twinning?), or their likes (there was a mildly uncomfortable scene featuring Call Me By Your Name), a lot of it shines through on paper, which, I'm not sure I was a fan of in this book? The pop-culture references especially, were often excessive and a little cring-ey. Keeping in mind that these books take place in the distant future, I can't imagine these will age well. 

Also, I'm just going to say it: I'm not a fan of the way these authors write Maximoff and Farrow's POV's. I think they want to convey a loveable rival dynamic, but fail to do so. Instead of Rose and Connor's jabs in Kiss the Sky or Fuel the Fire, Maximoff and Farrow's constant "i'm-better-than-you-banter" has become insufferable at best. I had to skim entire conversations between the two main characters because I kept rolling my eyes. Can these people have one normal conversation without comparing their muscles or the size of their genitals?

The saving grace of this book, then, are, as usual, the side-characters. I enjoy getting peeks at Jane and Thatcher, and even Banks/Sulli/Akara (which still feel a little forced?) were enjoyable to some extent. I'm also very curious at how these authors are going to portray Oscar/Jack, as they plan on writing a coming-out story, which I'm not sure will go over well, but they had some insightful scenes in Headstrong Like Us.

All in all, the writing just feels all over the place and, the more books that are written about them, the less I like these protagonists. I think the constant focus on these two characters, who, admittedly, are out of storylines, does a disservice to the side-characters that deserve their chance to shine. Consequently, I'm torn between rating this 3 stars or 2.5 stars, but this was (very clearly) not their best book, and, confirmed my initial apprehension: this should have been a novella. 

What did you think of Headstrong Like Us?

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