Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

When “Always Love You” Needs a Warning Label


I Will Always Love You

By Ashley Lee London

Kimber here. I’m on the job. Talking Her Crankiness down from The Cliffs of Insanity. (You’ll get that if you get “As you wish.”)

Why is Mom up there? Well. It all started with a book blog tour. And, oh Lassie! Did those guys ever step in it! Here’s what happened:

1. The back cover blurb on this book is off base by about a mile and a half. Talk about misleading. Not a good start, folks.

2. The print quality of this book is atrocious. Hard to believe anyone would send out a book with so many pages in this condition. Great day in the ouchie! (See photo.)

3. Then, tour organizers only wanted positive reviews. Read: Not honest ones.


Mom and I? We don’t roll that way. So we bowed out of the tour. Here’s our honest review instead:



Cliff Notes Version:

Well, barf.

Not Cliff Notes Version:

We really wanted to like this book. Did too. Did too. Did too! But it was hugely disappointing. For example, the first two chapters were so stilted, predictable and badly caricatured, we just about bailed at that point. But we wanted to give it a chance. So we soldiered on. (Just think of all the peeling paint we could’ve watched instead.)

Blurred Jell-o

This book is an ambitious effort, spanning multiple generations. Families. Siblings. Friendships. Jobs. Schools. Careers. Timelines. All the tea in China. And that’s part of its problem. There’s no real cohesive, unifying theme. It’s all over the place. Can’t seem to make up its mind. Is it a romance wannabee? A lecture on race relations? A study in family togetherness, god-fatherness, lunch with the girls? A Greek tragedy?

It’s like trying to nail Jell-o to a tree.

There’s also a recurring issue with print quality. Numerous pages look like:

Additionally, the characters are hackneyed, the plot pedestrian. While the story had potential, much of it is frittered away scampering down multitudinous bunny trails and story arcs that are tangentially connected at best.

Again, the lack of a coherent, consistent theme is problematic. The result is a confusing, muddled morass of artificial emotion and manufactured pathos. An example is the godfather/goddaughter relationship between Michael and Lori. Like it’s trying too hard to make up for deficits in Lori’s upbringing.

Straining Credulity

Another example is when Peter Marshall loses his wife, Lori. She’s supposedly the love of his life that he can’t live without. But Peter falls head over heels in love with Lori’s best friend, Grace Parrish. Like, ten minutes after the funeral. Or thereabouts. It strains credulity. Even worse, it makes readers wonder about the last 350 pages!

Pacing and focus are also problematic. The book can’t seem to find its stride, waffling between secular and spiritual. It tries too hard to be both and winds up being neither.

Seriously. We’re 200+pages in and looking for No Doze. Regrettably, repeated over-writing and significant structural deficiencies make it a choice candidate for a major re-write. It could also benefit from a professional edit. (Did anyone proofread the ARCs before they went out?!)

Nearest Exit?

Unfortunately, story threads don’t really start coming together until around page 300. Only the most diligent of readers is likely to wait that long before beating a hasty retreat to the nearest exit.

Finally, the story is so contrived and artificial, it should come with an FDA warning label.

We’re not going to rate this book. Because. Well, see Cliff Notes Version, above. Besides. This story has already been done. In 1992. Way better:



Oh yeah. Don’t worry about Mom.

She’s back on the ground. White chocolate raspberry cheesecake does it every time.





Rating System & Submission Guidelines

This might also be a good time to re-introduce our Rating System & Submission Guidelines.

We’re getting quite a few review requests that do not meet our submission parameters. Please save yourself and us some time and effort by taking a few minutes to read our submission guidelines prior to contacting us for a review. We’re picky, okay?











Exit sign image credit: Public domain.

2 thoughts on “When “Always Love You” Needs a Warning Label

  1. How on earth did the printing get so messed up? There will be a lot of returned books.

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