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Learning To Live (Arbor Heights) by Diana…

Learning To Live (Arbor Heights)

by Diana DeRicci

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A Hearts On Fire Review

TWO STARS--Diana DeRicci's "Learning to Live" is the first book in her new Arbor Heights series. The story is about a shy, naive, young twenty-four year old (Avery Storey) purchasing his own house, living across the street from crush-worthy bank customer, (AJ) and the two falling in...love. This novella follows both men as they stumble into a relationship while living in the town of Arbor Heights.


I had concerns with pretty much the entire story, from the pacing, the weak characterizations, the cutesy feel, excessive "baby" nickname calling (I usually do not mind but this was overkill) and the portrayal of events. My cons definitely outweighs any pros I could find. The book was a snoozefest (trust me on that).

The story had an okay beginning, we meet young Avery. He is extremely shy, doesn't have much friends, is an orphan and was raised by his aunt but he finally took a risk and purchased his first house at the age 24. He has a mini breakdown from a broken pipe in his new house and stats flailing his arms and crying onto his front porch for his neighbors to see. (MANTEARS so early should have been my first warning. Also I question his shyness at this point because...why would he go outside for others to see his cryfest? Wouldn't he remain inside?)

This and other improbable decisions made by Avery just to carry the story along or add to the semblance of the plot was an issue I had throughout the story among other things.

Insert the supposedly hunky, older contractor A.J. - the neighbor extraordinaire (*rolls eyes*) He tells Avery what to do, is kind of condescending throughout and makes such a jerk move towards the crux of the story that I truly can not remark on anything appealing on this man. Thank goodness this was fiction because any guy who acted like that would have been dumped. He's not even a great lover, full of shoddy excuses and used "baby" too much to the point where I cringed every time he was on the page.

And the cover? Oh I am not a fan of the cover. I feel smarmy just looking at it. It might had added to my dislike to AJ. Because the guy who is supposed to be AJ is holding his chin, looking like a creepy guy who prowls parks at all hours of the day looking for a victim. And then the blond in the pastel shirt from the cover is supposed to Avery or the Stockholm syndrome victim who thinks they have hit the jackpot but just doesn't recognize they are the victim. Runaway Avery while you still can.

There was a cutesy four year old introduced for an "aww shucks" moment and be endearing. But Avery pretty much read like that preschooler. Both were cutesy, naive, childlike. I don't know how Avery even made it to twenty-four acting like that. He's supposed to be smart but he didn't know a lot until AJ showed him (like baseball, why he is so shy, etc.)



Just because Avery is a virgin he's supposed to be a rube too? I hated the way he was portrayed. I think he was better than that. I wanted to read a story between two adult men, please.

Speaking of the relationship dynamics, I wonder if this was former MF because for certain points, it read like it. I don't think either character should be together. I was rooting for them to remain broken up, I think there's a problem if I am rooting for a breakup in a romance. Also, main characters that names start with the same initial can lead to confusion as there was a point where the author wrote A.J. when having Avery discuss something. And the age difference issue was sloppily handled. There was a thirteen year age difference. Both men were together for weeks and neither one asked about age. Avery was speculating to his friend and his aunt instead of asking A.J. what was he too shy to even do that? He wasn't shy enough to lose his virginity before asking. And when the two actually discuss their ages, apparently it's a BIG DEAL. *shakes head*

The book was frustrating because there are so many parts I felt could have been handled differently that would have made for better characters, a better story between equals. The plot devices used to carry this story along were weak for the most part. I have yelled at my e-reader while reading this story and rolled my eyes so many times, I'm surprised they are not stuck that way.

So why two stars? The story wasn't the worst I've read this year. A positive for the book.

Would I read more from the author? Yes but I'm on the fence. We'll see in the future.

Would I read the next in the series? Maybe. Maybe not. *shrugs*

" ( )
  SheReadsALot | Jun 20, 2016 |
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