ARC review: Lucas by Sawyer Bennett

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Sparks fly when hockey hotshot Lucas Fournier and museum curator Stephanie Frazier meet at a fancy gala.  A night of unbridled passion turns into something more when the condom breaks and suddenly, Steph and Luc share a connection for the rest of their lives.  The only problem – aside from the obvious – is that Steph doesn’t do commitment.  Can Luc push through her walls and get her to accept the love he wants to give her?

I’ve picked up some Sawyer Bennett books over the years, but they’re just gathering virtual dust on my Kindle shelf.  I know that Sawyer Bennett is a pretty big author in the romance genre, so I was excited to be approved for this ARC on Netgalley.  Unfortunately, aside from the rather heated beginning, this book fell flat for me.

First of all, at least half of the blame lies on me.  I really, really dislike the “surprise baby” trope, and somehow missed that in the blurb.  And this book is really, really focused on the baby aspect.  It’s not that I dislike kids (I love babies) or that kids in my romance novels bother me (they don’t).  I think it’s more that I read romance to escape from my daily life, and the reminder that something as simple as a condom breaking could change my life forever just does not relax me one bit.

Honestly, this book stressed me out.

Now, Luc seemed like a great guy.  I appreciated how open, honest, and straightforward he was.  Stephanie, on the other hand, totally rubbed me the wrong way.  I get that she had a bad childhood, but her whole standoffish vibe and refusal to let Luc in grated on my nerves.

Throughout the book, Luc constantly tries to break down Steph’s walls, and she will not let him in.  When Luc confronts her, there’s this whole attitude of “you can’t upset a pregnant woman” that really bothered me – let me tell you, I am of a certain age where literally everybody I know is having children.  I have had five coworkers give birth to seven children over the last two years.  Relatives and friends have also had babies.  You can upset a pregnant woman.  I mean, obviously, don’t try to stress her out, but absolutely call her out if she’s acting like an idiot!  And Stephanie acted like an idiot throughout a good 75% of this book.

There’s this one conversation which basically goes like this:

Luc: Could you please open up a bit?  I feel like I hardly know you.
Steph: Um, excuse you, I had a bad childhood and I am literally pregnant right now?
Luc: Yeah, but maybe you could like… talk to me?
Steph: HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF NOT TALKING TO YOU WHEN I HAVE ACTUALLY SHARED VERY MINIMAL FACTS ABOUT MY LIFE!
Luc: But… like… I want to know more.
Steph: This is why I don’t date. I’d rather be single.  You are so mean.
Luc: Okay.  I am legitimately sorry and I can’t believe I actually asked you a question while you’re pregnant with my child.  Carry on.

Yes, there are also scenes where Luc acts like a total jerk, but it’s not completely unwarranted.  There’s always something leading up to it.  His actions never come out of the blue and are, while possibly poorly worded, legitimate responses to Steph’s actions. All Steph does is sit around and complain about how nobody could ever love her when she has a man she even admits is perfect sitting down next to her, trying to love her despite her reluctance.

Anyway.  Can we move on to the plot?  Or, rather, the lack of plot?  Because this book is mostly just gratuitous sex tied together with a very flimsy plot of a) a surprise baby, b) Steph’s familial issues, and c) Steph’s job prospects.  All in all, not a lot of plot for a book that’s ~300 pages.  And, the thing is, the sex scenes aren’t that great.  Sure, the first one is pretty hot, but then they start getting repetitive and I found myself skimming them.

Serious question: Do actual adults in actual relationships really spend this much time having sex?  I mean, I get that it happens when you’re in your first real “adult” relationship, no longer living with your parents, trying to assert your independence or whatever.  But do actual adults really have sex marathons that last for four days? If so, how is that even pleasant? How does your body handle that? Do you really have nothing better to do?

The majority of the book revolves around the fact that Steph is pregnant, and actual pregnant women comment on the fact that they’re pregnant less than Steph does.  Actual women that I know with hyperemesis gravidarum, who are hospitalized for their condition, talk about throwing up less than Steph does.  (I hope that super graphic vomit scene is cut out of the final version of the book because it was absolutely disgusting and does not belong in a romance novel.)

There were a few things within the story itself that rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m just going to break this part up into bullet points:

  • The former curator’s “scandal.”  I’m not going to delve into any spoilers about what happened, but suffice it to say that I don’t really and truly understand what the scandal was.  As long as they’re not hurting anybody, what people do in the privacy of their own home or outside of office hours should have no bearing on their position at work.
  • The old-fashioned OB-GYN. I work in a medical office, so I’m really sensitive to the portrayal of doctors in fiction.  Steph’s OB is completely unprofessional, like to the level where I’m not sure how he’s still practicing.  He makes snide comments about “I didn’t realize you were married” (I didn’t realize that babies couldn’t be conceived without a ring on the finger) and “Stephanie is probably going to want you to leave the room now” (maybe let her make her own decisions).
  • The stripper. Honestly, she came out of left field and gave off these clear “I’m only here as a plot device” vibes – obviously, since we never saw or heard from her again.
  • Simone and Van. The problem I had with these two is that I cared about them more than Steph and Luc.  I saw their relationship coming from a mile away and, at Simone’s first appearance, made a note about how I was sure that she was just there to set up the next romance in the series, and, lo and behold
  • The name dropping. Lucas is #8 in a series, and though it supposedly functions as a standalone, I felt like I was missing quite a bit by not already knowing these characters. There are comments throughout about how X and Y got married or are expecting and there was a clear implication that this should mean something to me, but it just didn’t.

One thing I do really have to commend the publisher on is finding a cover model that actually looks like the description from the book. The last two books I read with faces on the cover looked nothing like the description of the hero, so this was a welcome change.

I guess, all in all, I was disappointed with Lucas.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, but it’s not necessarily a bad book if you’re into this kind of story. I can’t see myself going back to read the previous seven books in the series, but I’m still planning to read the Sawyer Bennett books that I already own.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received a free ARC of Lucas from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest opinion.

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