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“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”  ― Winston Churchill

The Last Boyfriend (Forever Love 1) - J.S. Cooper

I hate to give books one star. In general, if a book is decently formatted and breaks fewer than three rules of grammar/spelling per page, I'll give it two stars for effort.

But this book?

This book deserves negative stars.

Oh, it's formatted decently enough and while the grammar is rough, it's about your average American public school fifth grade level (I'm not trying to knock public schools. I went to one, my relatives teach at others. But let's face it. Public education is currently under so many ridiculous constraints, both budgetary and bureaucratic, that teachers have a hard time actually teaching and students have a difficult time actually learning.)

But I doubt I will ever find a more wretched hive of clunky writing and just plain stupidity.

Our heroine is named Lucky. If you forget the heroine is named Lucky, don't worry, the hero will remind you. Ad nauseam. Like every other sentence. "So, Lucky..." "As you know, Lucky..." "What are you thinking, Lucky?" (The answer: not much.) It's as if he has first name Tourette's. Lucky is a college student/plucky waitress in a Miami coffee shop. Lucky is so gosh darn appealing that not one, but two rich and famous men want her.

Lucky (see? I can't stop saying her name, either) is having none of that, however. Because Lucky's ex-boyfriend called her a slut after learning she had sex in college. Shocking, yes, I know. So Lucky has stopped dating until she finds "the last boyfriend" - the last guy she dates before she marries him.

It's a kinda cute premise. Too bad that is the last gasp of anything resembling cute, clever, original or witty in the entire book.

Every Friday, generic handsome rich guy Zane Beaumont shows up at Lucky's diner with a different gorgeous woman in tow. How did Zane make his money? Apparently the New Adult Self Publishing Money Grab Fairy just waved her wand and made him that way. OK, fine, his father is apparently a Hollywood producer who cares nothing about living trusts and all the other financial protections actual wealthy people put into place for their kids, and gave Zane open access to the family's mythically large bank account. Or so I assume. Because it sure as hell ain't in the text.

But even though Zane's and Lucky's interactions are limited to the electrical spark that passes between them whenever Zane leaves his $100 tip on Lucky's table (only somewhat less icky that leaving $100 on her bedside table, the way she talks about it), when Zane sees Lucky chatting to a generic handsome rich Hollywood star at a party, Zane instantly goes into stalker mode and follows her home – and of course her car breaks down along the way. (BTW, there are an awful lot of Hollywood people hanging out in Miami. Not that it doesn’t happen, of course, but, y’know, we have great nightlife, decent beaches and zero humidity on our side of the country.)

Lucky spends the night at Zane’s – no intercourse, but generic sexual tension a'plenty– and presto, chango! Lucky is suddenly Zane’s assistant on a documentary (!!!) he is making in Los Angeles (!!!!) Yet somehow Zane was able to spend the last several months taking girls to Miami diners on Friday nights.

Lucky and Zane go to a fictional Los Angeles that resembles the real city in no real way, shape or form (psst: Burbank is a decent place, don’t get me wrong, but millionaires do not brag about owning condos there; locals say “Olvera Street” when referring to the birthplace of the city; and the hot dog stand is PINK’s, not Pinky’s.) Lucky agrees to enter into a relationship that is all sex, no emotions, because the New Adult Self Publishing Money Grab Fairy says so; and hijinks ensue. I can’t tell you what they are because the clunky, pedestrian writing so annoyed me that I skimmed to the end.

Oh! And 75% of the way through the book we suddenly get a lecture on the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement – hey, apparently the author had to use her term paper research somewhere, because that’s what it read like. At least it made a change from the rest of the book, which reads like a first draft fanfiction written by someone who had never put finger to keyboard before but who wanted to rewrite Fifty Shades without all that icky BDSM stuff (no, seriously, the characters discuss Fifty Shades and decide they’re just not into that scene.)

So if you like your heroines stupid; your heroes even more obtuse; your writing on-the-nose, awkward, and heavy-handed; your conflicts cheaply manufactured and easily overcome; your plots paper thin; your first person narration telling you ad nauseam and never once showing you – this is the book for you.

(PS to the reviewers who said they were “beta readers” in return for a review: I do not think the term “beta reader” means what you and the author think it means.)