Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I think it’s the bane of every twenty-year-old-ish person’s existence to make choices in the face of parental expectation. Marley Valentine highlights this struggle beautifully in her Vino & Veritas story, Unforgettable. Centered around Oz and Reeve, Valentine interrogates the emotional trauma wrought by parents’ hopes and dreams for their children especially when a child has different ideas for themselves. Through the scope of Oz and Reeve’s emotional romantic journey, we come to recognize the idea that living a life on your own terms in the specter of peace and happiness is the best choice.
Valentine’s Unforgettable has two of my favorite characters in the V&V world. Reeve and Oz meet for a one-night stand. That shouldn’t necessarily endear you to them; however, Reeve is shy and internal, and it takes Oz’s empathic nature to draw him out and give him what he needs when Reeve cannot find the words for it. Thinking they won’t see each other again (while also regretting that choice), Reeve and Oz reconnect when Reeve takes a job in the bookstore at V&V where Oz works. Then, their story starts a long emotional journey where Oz and Reeve must decide their commitment to each other. However, at every turn, their personal anxieties about living up to their parents’ wishes for their lives threaten to derail any kind of happiness for them.
There is something special about Oz and Reeve. My biggest frustration with their story is Reeve’s reticence in committing to Oz. In fact, that plot point undermines their journey because, as the reader, you can’t help but ask “why can’t Oz leave or why can’t they have a long-distance relationship.” I’m not sure that Valentine makes a strong case against those questions. However, putting that aside, their coupling is sweet, They complement each other well, and Oz’s compassionate side causes you to fall in love with their story. There is a subtlety to their attraction and eventual love. Along with that is their steaminess. In fact, this is one of the more dirty stories, by my estimation, in the Vino & Veritas world. But you can’t help but love Oz and Reeve together.
I also adored the inclusion of Oz’s extended family, namely his sisters. The rapport between them and Reeve makes you swoon a bit and hope for Oz and Reeve’s eventual happy ending.
Overall, I really enjoyed Marley Valentine’s Unforgettable from Oz’s empathic self to Reeve’s silent strengths. You find yourself falling in love with their journey towards finding their happiness together.
In love and romance,