DNF Review: Two Across by Jeff Bartsch

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Two Across (from Goodreads):
Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee-and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives.
Though their mothers have big plans for them-Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor-neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she’s secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her.

Realizing the truth only after she’s moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he’s unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it’s all too late?

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Author: Jeff Bartsch
Genre: Adult, Historical (1960s), Women’s Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Two Across at 28% (Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked by Grand Central Publishing if I would be interested in reading Two Across, I was really excited! I love fake/arrangement marriages where they secretly love each other, so this was right up my alley. But I found the premise to be unique as well with the crossword integration.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I didn’t know that this book was set in the 1960s when I picked it up. I thought it was a contemporary romance but was more than a little surprised when I saw the date on the first chapter!

But I really loved this throwback setting. It helps give some social context for why these two agree to a shame of a marriage. By giving those social contexts (like the role of women in society; education, etc), you get a richer experience and see the bigger picture.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

I found this book to be terribly slow. In my opinion, it took far to long to get to the crux of the plot (the fake marriage and its fallout). While I’m all for setting up the scene and situation, I felt like the exposition went on longer than necessary. I got bored and didn’t particularly care for the story once we actually reached the plot.

–The Romance–

Given everything I had learned in the first four chapters, I didn’t understand how Vera was “in love” with Stanley. It seemed to be more implied than actually visible. I wanted that established a little more for me.

Will I Finish It?

I’m a little torn on whether or not I will finish it. I tried pacing out my reading but found that to be unsuccessful. Maybe one day I’ll go back because I am still curious about how all of this will play out.

My Rating: DNF

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I think if you going into this book thinking it reads more like Women’s Fiction than a straight romance, you’ll really enjoy this one. I just went in with the wrong expectations and felt let down.

Read if You Like: stories set in the 1960s, women’s fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance

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