Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I have been waiting for this. I’ve made no mystery about my love for Jolie Vines’s Scottish Highlander heroes and heroines. She has this amazing capacity to craft heroes who adore their heroines, and it makes you light up inside at the revelation of their love stories. But something has always felt underwhelming in the later chapters of her stories (epilogues excluded). Once the heroine accepts/acknowledges her love for these brawny, masculine heroes who adore them, the story loses a bit of its shine. It drags sometimes in ways that undermine the overall feel for the book, so I oftentimes give her books 4 and 4 ½ star reviews. I still adore her characterizations and the decidedly Scottish and English voices of her stories, but I’ve always expected a bit more. And that may be my fault, but I knew that there was more for her to give. And she has done it in her newest book, Obsessed. Let’s just say that I’ve become a bit obsessed with the hero and heroine of this story, Lochinvar “Lochie” and Caitriona “Cait.” So let’s begin about all the reasons why I adored this book, cementing it as tied for my favorite book with her Love Most Say Least:
For me, this book’s plotting and story development feel the most evenly paced. I believe this is the case because there is some romantic suspense within this story for both Lochie and Cait. As such, Vines is so careful to reveal the evolution and resolution to each of their stories that your interest in the story development is maintained through to the end. Even then, the resolution makes you feel replete. This felt different from her other books where the finality of the story was grounded in characterization (which is also the case here) instead of the story. I LOVED that aspect of Obsessed.
Additionally, Vines plays with ideas about $exuality in this book that are intriguing. She speaks to it in her acknowledgments, and it’s an aspect of $exuality that is rarely discussed or shown in romance. In doing that, Vines continues to push the envelope of romance writing along with pushing the boundaries of her own romances. It’s clear that she isn’t interested in generating staid romance. She seeking after evolution. Cait’s characterization as a beautiful woman who doesn’t feel strongly about love with any man is so contrary to romantic heroines that I adore reading her. Vines has thrown out the formula and rewritten it for Obsessed.
There is a psychology to this book that also intrigues me. While Vines handles Cait’s depiction well in this story, she also plays with the idea of the perceptions of others on our own perception of ourselves. Let me grow tangential here. I’ve been thinking recently about the impact of parents posting about their children online, how they are creating an idealized version of their children that their children can later consume. I’ve wondered how that might craft a different version of identity for their children that isn’t grounded in reality. And I’ve worried that we are raising a generation of confused children for it. In Obsessed, Vines plays somewhat with that idea of the influence of how others view our lives and its traumas in crafting our identity and choices in the present. This is shown in both Lochie and Cait’s depictions, making for an intriguing and thoughtful read. I love how Vines uses this idea to connect these two, adding gravity to their depiction.
While it’s clear that Lochie and Cait feel something for each other, it takes much of the story for that knot to be unraveled. And as Vineshas done well in the past, Lochie embodies the Vines hero well. However, unlike past stories, it’s done in a way that isn’t rushed and keeps the tension of the story driving forward.
There is so much to love about Jolie Vines’s Obsessed. I could wax poetic forever on the depth of storytelling and characterization in this story. But to do so would ruin the book for her readers. Instead, I challenge you to run and grab this book today. It still has some traditional romance elements, but I see Vines astutely and brilliantly pushing the boundaries of romance with Obsessed. Honestly, you won’t want to put Lochie and Cait down.
In love and romance,