Erica Chilson's Reviews > From Here to You

From Here to You by Jamie McGuire
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bookshelves: military-men, mystery-suspense, 3-star, wickedreads, abuse
Read 2 times. Last read June 9, 2018.

I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

3 Stars

I was hooked from page one when a victim of domestic abuse is ready to set foot down the aisle to be married to her abuser. The runaway bride takes off with precious cargo in her belly, with only the bridal gown on her back. This resonated with me for varying reasons.

Darby flees to Colorado Springs, and that was yet another tie linking me to the novel itself, as I visit there and Estes Park every summer, along with Pikes Peak- I even laughed when Trex suggested a trip to Mt. Rushmore for fireworks, because that was a trip we took with all the same destinations. This connected me to the story, investing me in what happened next.

The little hotel, run by a tight-knit family, with all the firefighters added a warm and fuzzy, feel-good, lighthearted vibe to a story that could have gotten too dark due to fear of Darby’s abuser showing up. The side cast of characters were individuals and captivating.
The start of the novel had me clicking and clicking, then stumbling slightly over Trex’s narration at first. It felt like a lot of information bombarding me, with something far too close to insta-love for my liking.

Darby just escaped an abusive relationship with a military man, while trying to put her life back together from literally nothing, while worrying about the baby in her belly and how she was going to survive. While I think Trex had a good heart at the beginning, his tenaciousness felt too much to me, like give the girl a break for five seconds to get her head on straight, especially when hormones make it difficult to recognize real emotions from rampant mood swings. So what should have felt like warm and fuzzy support felt like yet another version of smothering manipulation. I felt the friendship and need for comfort and support from Darby, but never any true romantic feelings on her end, but plenty of fear and worry for what was happening in the blink of an eye.
Trex pressured Darby on every page, to the point it was taxing to read for me- triggering, if you will. I knew exactly how Darby felt- let the woman breathe. On Trex’s end, it felt more like obsession than love, with his ‘I’ve waited my whole life for you, knowing you were the one from first sight.’ While romantic for most readers, from the standpoint of a survivor of domestic violence, that is beyond creepy as I’m sure her abuser thought/felt the same thing. This was Trex’s immediate thoughts on Darby. Immediate.

Trex needed to get to know Darby, not just love the idea of her he built up inside his head over decades and the outside package. While I’m sure many readers will swoon over Trex and his unflinching tenacity, and I’m sure many will say I’m taking this too seriously… I left my ex, taking nothing I’d built over my entire adult life, if a man approached me that same day and pressured me day after day, I would have gotten a restraining order. Then to continually lie and gaslight Darby by saying she has trust issues…
I actually wanted Darby with Zeke, because it felt more organic, natural, more getting to know you with real friendship, not pressure to be romancy from word-one.

Why 3 Stars?

A book that was resonating with me suddenly went south for me, because it hit just about every single one of my pet peeves. The editor in me sat back and stopped reading, noting where the author should have been reeled in. Less is more. Adding layers of irrational, immature, manufactured conflict lessens the experience.

Insta-love. Fated to nearly paranormal levels for Trex, while Darby was obviously reluctant. It felt pressuring, like the guy in the friend-zone who keeps buying you gifts and being helpful, but it’s all phony manipulation to get you to love the fake side they are showing, just as what they love about you isn’t real, only an ideal. It’s false friendship, showing you the best parts of them while hiding/lying/evading- once you’re hooked, you’re stuck with someone not as advertised. FYI: this is called ‘LOVE BOMBING’ and it’s a form of manipulation predicating abuse.

Every time Trex is caught in a lie, he brings up/thinks how Darby has trust issues. While I know trust issues are a real thing, this is anything but. This is actually called gaslighting, where you make the other person feel as if they are the problem instead of recognizing your responsibility in the problem. Like admitting you lied, instead of turning it around on your victim by saying they have trust issues.

Miscommunication. ALL conflict is miscommunication. If you’re so in love, wish to get married, TALK to each other. I don’t mean classified things, but knowing it will blow up in your face, and doing so, just for the sake of it blowing up in your face to add conflict that was missing from a book without conflict… If the characters don’t speak to one another, the reader is left dealing with redundant inner monologuing at ad nauseum and we learn nothing of consequence about our storytellers. Time and time again, I said to myself, “Trex, right here is where you should be truthful.” Darby doesn’t have trust issues– she literally just escaped a madman a heartbeat ago, but you go ahead and keep lying and evading the big and little things that are actually of zero consequence, so we’ll have some irrational, manufactured conflict later on. Darby didn’t have trust issues- Trex did, as he never trusted Darby enough to tell the truth about anything. It becomes tedious and I lost interest, because I knew what was going to happen, just as the narrator does, and when it does happen, it’s like “C’mon! Really?!”

Characters acting out of character, aka character trait lobotomy. Emotional maturity not matching chronological age, career position, or personality traits. Behavior more befitting those who have had zero life experience. Trex was in the USMC, serving in active duty from a leadership position, he then worked for the FBI. Now he is currently working as an independent contractor for the US Government as a security specialist, with a team under his command… the irrational, immature, out of character behavior he displayed at the climax had me shutting my Kindle. After protecting Darby for 80% of the novel, with the threat literally on the premises, he leaves to go help his sister who has called the authorities and is no worse for wear, while leaving a pregnant Darby with her stalker just because she was being irrational due to his lies and hormones. The hotel isn’t a magical safe zone. She has an excuse, he doesn’t. Trex displayed why he should have never been employed for 2 seconds by the US Government as no one would be safe under his command.

Manufactured conflict in a novel teeming with conflict unexplored. (see above) We have a runaway bride with an abusive, military ex on the loose, WE DID NOT NEED MISCOMMUNICATION AS A CONFLICT. We didn’t need a flirty, desperate acting grown woman to add conflict, giving women everywhere a bad name when we already had a villain of the story.

Sociopaths don’t run in packs, because they tend to cannibalize each other to protect their secrets. Just as people of faith aren’t unintelligent (a thread I felt was explored in the novel with the force of a hammer to the skull. FYI: I’m not a person of faith, but this was too much). All military men are not sociopaths, to where an abusive ex manages to find more of his kind to commit crimes with him. The novel lost all credibility with me, and I realize this is fiction. Shawn managing to rustle up several other sociopaths is several steps too far. All the conflict necessary was available, adding in a jealous sociopathic girl who somehow manages to hook up with the sociopath pack...

I felt everything was displayed in the extreme. All military men are bad. All firefighters are good (my abuser was a FF). All politicians are corrupt or bumbling. All women under the age of elderly are after your man or irrational (the reporter girlfriend, the new reporter, the new hire, all the women shown besides the grandmother). Every male wanted Darby. Religion is for the unintelligent, atheism is for the intelligent. Domestic violence suffers shouldn’t work through their issues, but immediately latch onto the first man who shows all the precursors of future abusive behavior.

As you can see, what was a book I was so readily prepared to hand out 5 stars veered off course quickly. It meandered, became redundant and tedious, filled with mundane, inane everyday laundry list of daily events. The premise couldn’t support the page-count as it struggled to figure out how to fill in the gap from the middle to the ending. Generally, I DNF a book because I don’t want to give a critical review, but with domestic violence being something so close to me, I had to read it to its conclusion.
Everything went against human nature and our natural responses to stimuli. I felt Darby’s emotions weren’t properly explored, as Trex slapped a bandage over it by tossing money at the problem and telling her he loved her, instead of getting her real help from a therapist while allowing her time to find herself as a person and to grieve the past that no longer exists- the life and people she left behind. It took me years, and Darby wasn’t afforded HOURS after leaving her previous life behind. She traded in one prison for another, and I’m sorry but I found no romance in that. The journey wasn’t explored because the wrong things were focused on during the novel.

To me, the romance read as the initial stages- the draw, the hook, the clenching force -of abuse. As if the beginning and the climax showed the ending of an abusive relationship with the ex, and the rest of the novel showed how women fall victim to it every day via love bombing, gaslighting, control, lying and evasion, and manipulations, buying the I Love Yous handed out far too quickly.

Insta-love is called infatuation. If I ask you why you love someone, and you can’t answer me because all you know is their name and their outside package, it’s NOT love. Lust. Infatuation. Shallow. Vapid. As deep as the skin found beautiful. This isn’t a paranormal fated mates story. What’s to love? Why do you love them? If the answer is how they are the ideal/the fantasy of your forever love, you need therapy, because they’re a person, not someone filling a void in your life. This is exactly how abuse is born, when you discover they are not the ideal/fantasy, but flawed flesh and bone.
Both older and wiser, I expected a novel that read more mature, but their actions belied their ages (I don’t believe Darby’s age was ever said), leaving me feeling as if I read a young adult or new adult novel set in the context of a mature worldview.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 9, 2018 – Started Reading
June 9, 2018 – Shelved
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: military-men
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: mystery-suspense
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: 3-star
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: wickedreads
June 9, 2018 – Shelved as: abuse
June 9, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Z. I have few pages to go yet, but I am near the end. And already your review sings to me! Agree Agree Agree

message 2: by Jillian (new) - added it

Jillian Fantastic review. Very thorough and helpful.

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