Melodramatic, Cringe-Worthy and Not For Me | Review: In the Unlikely Event by L.J. Shen

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Well, my first L.J. Shen novel wasn't a success. BUT, it won't be my last. I think this one just... wasn't for me. Like, at all. In the Unlikely Event is just way too cringey.

About In the Unlikely Event
by L.J. Shen 

Sometimes you meet people who are out of this world, so you make them a part of yours.

A one-night stand born from vengeance in a foreign land.
An explosive chemistry neither of us could deny.
We signed a contract on the back of a Boar’s Head Pub napkin that said if we ever met again, we would drop everything and be together.
Eight years and thousands of miles later, he’s here.
In New York.
And he’s America’s music obsession.
The intangible Irish poet who brings record executives to their knees.
The blizzard in my perfect, unshaken snow globe.
Last time we spoke, he was a beggar with no intention of becoming a king.
But a king he became, and now I’m his servant.
I’m not the same broken princess Malachy Doherty put back together with his callused hands.
I have a career I love.
A boyfriend I adore.
An apartment, a roommate, a life.
I changed. He changed, too.
But Mal kept the napkin.
Question is, will I keep my word? 

In the Unlikely Event by L.J. Shen 
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

In the Unlikely Event never felt like the right fit for me. I waited for the moment it might click into place for me, but the moment never truly came. The truth is, I liked L.J. Shen's writing. And I'll be looking into her backlist soon. There was just something about this story that wasn't right for me. AND I'M SO SORRY FOR IT. I know, I know, I'll show myself out. Be gentle with me. Don't throw too much food at my head.

Here's a small, slightly humorous attempt at the truth of my feelings for this novel: flipping its pages felt a lot like the time I decided, on a whim, to try a pumpkin spiced beer. Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, but... stay with me. In theory, I thought I'd love it. I like the flavor combination of the spices used.

When I tasted it, I grimaced. Pause. Another taste, another grimace. I repeated this, 'just to be sure', until finally it was mostly gone. Admission of defeat soon followed. I slid the bottle away and left. For much of In the Unlikely Event, I felt like this. Like, I was chugging through this book not out of enjoyment but out of the hope that I could like it. I couldn't ignore its glaring flaws and choppy moments. I also couldn't get past some of its more cringy, problematic elements that did virtually nothing but sever the connection further.

In the Unlikely Event depends far too much on more melodramatic elements and soap opera twists. I'm all for characters who are flawed, problematic and border on cruel as long as it is done well. The issue is that it, being the entire book, and how everything unfolded and then concluded, just didn't feel right.

The premise had promise and there were moments in the story were I felt the tug of humor or the moment of shifting tides or whatever, but overall it didn't do much else for me except occasionally overwhelm with irritation. I also felt like the plotline was heavy with more questionable moments; it was littered with cliche (secret child, anyone?) plot devices.

Dark romances can be quite good when done right, and while I adored L.J. Shen's writing (and really will be looking into other titles of hers in the future, predictably the ones from series--I hear those are where the real gold lay) I felt like so much of this novel was a mess and could have been cut out or written differently.

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