Jillian -always aspiring-'s Reviews > Truly, Madly, Deeply, You

Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: 2012-reads, disappointing-books, could-have-been-better
Recommended to Jillian -always aspiring- by: Cover Lust
Recommended for: People who enjoy romance even if it's not particularly deep
Read on April 18, 2012

Truly, Madly, Deeply, You: currently, it has a fairly middle-of-the-range average rating (hovering just over the 3.5 star mark) here on Goodreads...so you might be wondering why I'm so far on the other end of the spectrum with a one-star "Sorry, I Didn't Like It" rating.

To be honest, what initially drew me to this novella (which clocks in at just around 70-80 pages) was the cover. I haven't had much exposure to interracial romances, so I was intrigued that this novella was so upfront about the kind of romance inside. Almost immediately, I wanted to know the characters depicted on the cover and how their relationship might develop within the story.

The blurb also intrigued me because it tackles an issue that I've seen discussed quite a bit over the past few weeks on the internet: the matter of the "friendzoned guy." Freytag "Frey" Meier is one such man, who has held a special place in his heart for his best friend Liese Hansfeld ever since they were thirteen years old...but Liese has seemingly never noticed. In fact, she went on to marry another, only for her to lose her husband a few short years after they wed. Given that kind of backstory, I was a bit concerned with how a male character in the friendzone would react to such a situation. Would he take advantage of his friend's grief and try to "make her love him" by smothering her with (some ill-motivated) kindness and attention? Or would he simply be the friend who lives his own life and tries to move on himself even as he wishes that his friend could (and would) do the same for herself? I was curious to find out.

So...what happened to make me react so negatively to this story? How did all my interest and curiosity turn into disappointment and irritation?

I really don't think the story started on the right foot when Frey, "being the good friend," ignores Liese's wishes to be alone during her yearly four-day grieving period and breaks into her home. Even though the intention was that Frey was doing all this "for her own good," I felt appalled on behalf of Liese. Why? This man is supposedly her best friend (and, given the context of the story, seemingly her only friend), yet he doesn't think to talk to her about any of this prior to swooping in and saying, "Okay, you don't get an opinion on this. You are not going to be alone this year because I say so." Great that you want to help her! Great that you seem to have good intentions! But why "your way or no way," huh? As best friends, shouldn't your relationship be a bit more equal than that?

Of course...as soon as I met and knew Liese, I found myself a bit appalled by her as well. Given her grief, I can understand some lapses in care of herself and such -- but it was a bit annoying that she needs to be reminded by Frey to take care of herself and he cooks every meal for her (otherwise, she doesn't seem to eat). Not to mention the fact that, even when she's in another room (such as the bathroom) and locks the door, Frey often "checks up" on her quickly and (at one point) believes he might have to break down the door "just to make sure she's all right."

Now, here's the thing: I could understand some of Frey's overprotectiveness and paranoia if Liese were suicidal. However, even with how often she cried, I never got the deep, frightening impression that "Man, if this girl were left alone, she might really do harm to herself." I don't know if the lack of worry on my end was due to Liese's characterization or something else. For all I know, she was meant to be portrayed as a potentially suicidal woman who needed to be brought back from the brink by her best friend who loves her. Truthfully, I never felt that from Liese while I was reading, but some other reader might see it another way and be more empathetic as to why Frey seemed to have a problem with respecting Liese's space. As for me...well, I found Frey was a manipulator hidden behind the mask of a "nice guy."

Only two other characters made an appearance in this novella: Ben (Frey's romantic rival for Liese) and Carmen (Frey's ex-girlfriend). Given that neither character is fleshed out or given complexities beyond being outside "obstacles" to Frey and Liese's romance, Ben and Carmen added nothing more to the story. It was a shame, really, since sometimes supporting characters can make up for some of the slack of the main characters (if said supporting characters are fleshed out enough).

Beyond all that, however, what really made me dislike this novella was that I saw no real depth to the friendship or the potential romantic relationship between Liese and Frey. They've known each other since they were in their early teens, yet no real backstory depth is given to their friendship other than Liese sometimes musing how they've already seen each other naked when they were younger or how they sometimes slept in the same bed (both musings of which add very little weight to the reality of friendship between these two characters, in my opinion). On Frey's end, it's a bit disturbing how he coddles Liese (he even compares her to a kitten once): there's no real respect on his end for her other than trying to "protect" her from other guys. As for the romance...well, it has little to do with admirable traits they see in each other but how attractive they find each other. Never once did I read how they admired each other's internal traits and characteristics but rather the external such as beauty and sex appeal. But why does Frey love Liese so much, beyond beauty? Why does Liese start to see him romantically even though she loved and married someone else? I wanted to know these things, but I never received any of the answers.

The sad thing is that I might not have had such a dislike for this story if the characters had been teenagers instead of adults. Mind, that's not a preference of mine (it's my personal view that characters of any work should be deep and complex), but rather the characters themselves weren't convincing as adults. Their dialogue, their behavior, their emotions -- all of it seemed more suitable for teenage characters wrought with the potential excuses of hormones, romantic entanglements and drama, and emotional confusion. (I know adults experience all those things as well to varying degrees, but it's not in a book's favor when you have a 24-year-old man who treats a grown woman like a child who must be babied and protected from others and herself. Nor is it a good sign when you have a 24-year-old woman shifting among crying fits, antidepressant-fueled stupor, or sudden lust for her best friend, all the while giving no real indicator that she can care for herself without the help of said best friend.)

Plus, we are never clued in to how these characters support themselves, what their hobbies may be, what connections they bear to the outside world other than to each other...and I find that a bit disquieting in and of itself. Other romances give their characters family backgrounds and such, so why couldn't I at least see some of that here? Instead, the story has romance as the one and only core goal, and it suffers for it.

By the end of the novella, nothing is truly resolved. Liese still has her issues, and Frey will likely suffocate her with his "love" and not give her the space she needs to try and heal in her own time. No, it's not the most destructive romance in fiction out there (far from it), but I still can't accept it as a "good romance" or even a desirable one (given the unequal balance between Frey and Liese). And I don't think other readers should accept it as such either.

However, that's just my opinion. If you're at all interested in Truly, Madly, Deeply, You, then by all means spend the two dollars for the e-book and see how the story fares for you.
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Reading Progress

4.0% "Ack. "I broke in, then repaired the door," he said unblinkingly. So that makes it okay?"
12.0% "Hmm. Frey seems to take too much advantage of being the "kind, caring, supportive, always-there friend" (quite common "tendencies" with friendzoned characters), though I can't say Liese helps much since she seems overly dependent on him when he's around..."
45.0% "Sigh. Not impressed that these characters are acting like shallow, jealous teenagers. Y'all are supposed to be adults. :/"
61.0% "Little things that are bugging me: (1) Liese has yet to be seen cooking for herself or really caring for herself without being reminded by Frey. (2) Don't these people have jobs? What's the backstory on their professions/careers, if they have any? (3) As much as I was told that Frey and Liese have been friends since they were thirteen, I have yet to be convinced of their "close" friendship."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Megan This isn't actually that great, you might want to un-add it.

message 2: by Megan (last edited Apr 19, 2012 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Megan Yeah, the cover is lurvely. I was hopeful and swayed by the postive reviews, and low price of this one. Lately I have been so into the romances, only problem is that most romances are crap :( It's so very difficult to find a good one.

Loved your review. Like you, I saw Frey as a major manipulator. For him to decide to move himself from friend status to boyfriend status on the weekend which Liese chooses to mourn her husband and unborn child is super creepy. That's just taking advantage of her at her most vulnerable. Plus, the casualness which Frey allows Carmen to be drawn into their double dates, even though he knows he has no interest in her and doesn't even make an attempt to be nice to her. Psycho!

The final staw I had with Frey was when he insisted that Liese stop her antidepression meds. Dude... I'm a nurse & can attest that, depending on the med, that can seriously mess a person up! People should never 'just stop' meds without talking to a doctor and depending on the med, sometimes they need to be weaned off. The assertation that Liese was feeling better or back to her own self after a day or two of being off of them was also a joke, as a lot of that stuff stays in your system for awhile. Anyway, lecture over, lol. Needless to say, the way he encouraged her to ditch her meds was appaling to me.

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