Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Stay With Me - Jenny Anastan

I received an e-copy of this book through Netgalley.  I am not being paid for this review - all thoughts and reflections are my own.

Title: Stay with me
Author: Jenny Anastan
Published by: AmazonCrossing

Release Date:  October 20, 2015

This book started out nice, but I quickly found that the beginning was the only good part of the book.  To sum up this book quickly: We start by meeting our protagonist Zoe, a single mom raising her 3 1/2 year old daughter Olivia, nicknamed Ollie.  Zoe is a single mother because the guy she was involved with, Andrew,  made it clear to her that he never wanted to have a real relationship - and after one year of nothing but sex, he leaves and she never tells him that she's pregnant.  Through a weird turn of events he ends up back in her life, and a crazy series of events ensues throughout the coming weeks. 

I tried really hard to find something, anything that I liked about this book. In the end, the only thing that really stood out for me was Zoe's hard work and willingness to take a leap in opening her own business.  I found the writing to be boring, the characters to be rather drab and unbelievable, and the antics that Andrew pulled on Zoe to be downright psychologically abusive and manipulative.  

We learn that Zoe and Andrew had one year of nothing but sex, per his request.  They never went out together in public, never went on any dates, never spent the night at each others homes, and never got to know anything personal about each other in that year.  Despite all that, Zoe says she has fallen in love with Andrew, and when he leaves to return to NYC, she is heartbroken.  When he returns four years later, it is on the arm of Ashley, the daughter of her mom's best friend.  Zoe's parents and Ashley's dad were killed in a car accident when they were 19. 

Zoe is shocked and finds herself wondering how she is going to hide Ollie from Andrew.  Within a matter of days, he finds out that Ollie exists and is his daughter and then all hell breaks loose.  There are several scenes throughout the next several chapters that involve Andrew practically forcing himself on Zoe, then getting mad at her for refusing his advances.  He also tells her repeatedly that she had no right to hide Ollie from him (which I agree with, but the manner in which he speaks to Zoe about it is very psychologically manipulative.)  He manages to spin every situation so that it seems like it's all Zoe's fault, and he refuses to accept any of the blame for he treated her.

Then there is the way that Ashley behaves throughout the entire novel.  It is made abundantly clear that she does not like Zoe, and that she will do everything in her power to destroy Zoe and make Zoe look like a bad person.  She is constantly taking digs at Zoe, she never once tells Andrew that Zoe's parents were killed in the same crash that killed her father.  She is a cold, calculating, manipulative person, and frankly I have a hard time that all her bad personality traits could all exist in one person.

There was really no character development throughout this book.  None of the characters seemed to grow or learn anything by the end of the book.  Even though Zoe forgave Andrew, I have no doubt in my mind that he has not changed at all, and still only cares about himself.  Ashley was exactly as heartless at the end of the book as she was at the beginning.  And Zoe was a complete pushover from beginning to end.

I had hopes that this novel would be great, but upon finishing it, I know that I can only give it a 1 star rating.  I don't believe this is a book I would recommend to others.

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