Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know that I have promoted for Stacey Lynn before, but prior to 28 Dates, her newest book, I hadn’t read her books. I am always looking for new authors. I simply love romance books, and finding new books by new authors makes my week, especially if I enjoy their voice.
28 Dates is the story of Jonas and Caitlin. From the outset, we understand that Caitlin and Jonas have a “friends with benefits” relationship. They have engaged in this type of relationship for a couple of years, and, seemingly, it has satisfied both of them. Until it doesn’t. Jonas asks for a date, and Caitlin pulls back, not wanting any further commitment. This devastates both of them, and they choose to be strictly friends, albeit strained ones.
Enter Trey, Caitlin’s friend. He is a guru app developer who creates an app that seeks to pair people in relationships, not one-night “hook-ups.” Caitlin is Trey’s personal assistant and business support, and as it has been several months since ending her FWB relationship with Jonas, Trey asks her to test the app for him. While her opinion hasn’t changed about relationships, she is still a little broken about Jonas, so she agrees to help Trey. Unbeknownst to Caitlin, Jonas too cannot move beyond his time with Caitlin. While he attempted to date someone else, he cannot forget Caitlin to move on; she is his standard. When he finds out about Caitlin’s agreement withTrey, Jonas asks Trey to be included in her app experience, as a way to win her back. Will Jonas finally get his girl? Will Caitlin accept him on a second chance? Or will she find love with someone else on one of her dates?
There are many, many aspects of 28 Dates that I loved.
Jonas. Holy hotness and sweetness! He is that “every guy” kind of hero who lives for the heroine. In this case, his entire being wants Caitlin. She is the problem; he isn’t. He wants to give her the world; he wants to protect her from it; and he wants real commitment. He is the main reason why I didn’t want to stop reading this story.
“…The fire in my vision spreads to my limbs. To the inner need inside of me to want to love her. This guy would die at my own hands if I ever saw him or met him in person and I would have not one f’ing regret.”
Caitlin’s friends. For all of his singular focus, Trey protects Caitlin and provides for her when she cannot see “the forest through the trees.” Yes, she makes his life easier, but he anticipates her needs before she realizes it. This is also the case with Corbin and Teagan (Caitlin’s other best friends), although we don’t really hear from Corbin in this story. Trey is her security blanket and potential savior before Jonas takes that place.
The Friends-to-Lover’s trope. I know some readers aren’t fans of this particular trope because it seems that people are either lovers or friends. Why would that change? However, Lynn presents this trope in a way that doesn’t make it strange as Jonas and Caitlin aren’t life-long friends. They are engaged in an evolved “friends with benefits” relationship. It makes sense that Jonas wants more after spending two years committed to Caitlin. He isn’t unreasonable in wanting more, so this trope works within this story.
This leads me to my issues with the story:
Caitlin. Trust me when I say that I love a woman who knows her own mind. When a heroine makes the best choices for herself, I respect it, and I recognize we need it in romances. However, Caitlin isn’t self-reflective enough for the first ¾ of the story to recognize her issues, her reasons for forgoing relationships. Everyone around her recognizes it, but she lacks that self-knowledge. And it’s frustrating. I found her thinking redundant. After breaking Jonas’s heart and her own, it takes her must of the story PLUS several horrible dates to act upon her feelings with Jonas. I understand this is a romance, and we need to develop angst. However, it felt repetitive to the story for her to be “in the dark” about her past reflecting on her choices in the present and future. It didn’t make me a fan of hers.
Caitlin’s Past. This was the biggest issue I had with the story. We needed more understanding of Caitlin’s past. We gained a bit of it when Trey talks with Jonas, but it is largely undeveloped. An exchange with her parents or some other similar scene would have made us better understand Caitlin’s choices. Instead, the gravity of her past doesn’t weigh in heavily on her present. I wanted to feel her pain, be dug in with her on her reasons for forgoing relationships. But I didn’t fully believe her because I didn’t feel the issues as they weren’t developed enough for me.
Overall, I enjoyed reading 28 Dates by Stacey Lynn. I think it represents the current online dating culture well, and it shows us the need for our relationships to be conducted face-to-face. We can be “catfished” or stalked or turned off by people who hide behind a screen. As this story shows us, the best way to find love is right in front of you.
“It saddens me she doesn’t always realize she’s special and deserving of this and so much more. Thank God I have years to teach her. ‘You’re worth any cost.’ To my bottom line, to my profit margin, to my heart and soul. She’s worth risking everything for.”
In love and romance,