Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“Every cell in my body, every thought in my head, every fiber of my being tells me she’s mine.”
Every review I’ve ever written about Jewel E. Ann’s stories goes a little something like this: “I’m never sure of my ‘why’ for loving her stories, other than, they have a different feel/vibe than other books.” It’s hard to put into words the power of her stories. At face value, her books seem simplistic. Honestly, her prose is decadent in almost a Hemingwayian manner. Wrapped in pared-down prose, Jewel E. Ann hits her readers with truth bombs that cause you to fall deeply in love with her. Take her newest book, If This Is Love, and consider this gem: “Don’t look back, Indie. Didn’t you hear me? It’s a slow death. Look forward. Chase something better. Don’t ever [f’ing] look back.” “If I don’t know where I’ve been, how will I know where I’m going?” […] You’ll know where you are when you get there not because you know where you’ve been. You’ll know it because it’s where you’re supposed to be. It will be a feeling of belonging that can’t be explained. It’s just a feeling you’ll know. And all you have to do is keep following that feeling, and you’ll be fine.” At the surface, the words portend an easy truth; yet, below the surface, the truth about living in the present is challenging. This moment in Jewel E. Ann’s book is ironic because Milo lives his life in the past even though he believes he’s moving forward further away from it. He tells Indie to keep looking forward when he’s actually stuck (not really by his choice) in the choices of his past.
The genius behind this type of writing is the reason readers of Jewel E. Ann continue to gobble her stories. Her romances are anything but simple, and she doesn’t take it easy on them. In If This Is Love, she does what she does best: she makes her readers cry, hold their breath, throw their kindles at walls, etc. This newest book is two parts of epic fated love wrapped in the barbed wire of angst. Do not believe for one minute it is light-hearted. When Indie and Milo engage in a seemingly innocent butter-smashing episode, it’s undergirded by the tension of the forbidden relationship. Everything that seems positive for her characters, the promise of their love, meets an equal reaction of malice. And so it goes back and forth, tethering her readers’ hearts deeper to Milo and Indie’s journey.
I disagree that If This Is Love is a cowboy romance. Is Milo a cowboy? Sure. Does much of the story exist on a ranch? Yes. But honestly, you could place this same story in a city or a suburb, and you’d get the same result: bittersweet love that finds its beautiful ending…eventually. It wouldn’t matter whether Milo wore a cowboy hat and chaps or a three-piece suit, the emotion of this story would be the same.
Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely! However, I did find a couple of areas underdeveloped. For one, I never fully understood Fletcher’s need for revenge on behalf of Milo’s brother convincing. I kept asking myself “why”…Why did he care so much? Secondly, for me, the ending was wrapped up a bit too neatly. I left If This Is Love swooning at Milo and Indie’s HEA, but I had too many questions.
You must know that I will read Jewel E. Ann’s stories until she no longer writes them because she has a voice that distinguishes itself from the rest. She captivates, challenges, and charms her readers with the ease of a practiced author who knows exactly who she is.
In love and romance,