Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

Love Unscripted Author: Tina Reber {website}
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Kindle/ebook
Published: 25 May 2011
Publisher: Self/Amazon Digital Services
Series: Yes.
Price: $3.99

Synopsis: {via GoodReads}
Ryan Christensen just wanted to be an actor. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think that accepting a role in an unknown film would toss his career into overdrive. His new fame has cost him dearly; anonymity is no longer an option. His fans stalk him, the paparazzi hound him, and Hollywood studios all want a piece of him. Despite all of that, Ryan Christensen craves the most basic of human needs - to have love in his heart and privacy in his life.

Taryn Mitchell, the story's protagonist, is a realist. She's been feigning contentment, running the family pub in Seaport, Rhode Island, while quietly nursing her own internal heartaches. Her feet are fairly glued to the ground and she doesn't buy into all the hype that has descended on her tiny, coastal town. In her world, men are safe if they're kept at a distance.

Fate has other plans for these two when their paths cross one sunny afternoon. A group of female fans has attacked him, leaving his shirt torn, his face cut, and Ryan in obvious distress. Bonds between them form from the most dramatic of circumstances while jealousy, insecurity, and the stress of his celebrity life try to tear them apart.

Through all the tabloid lies, secrecy, and pressure, can Taryn's peace and Ryan's high-profile insanity live together in harmony?


I really, really wanted to like this novel, but I really struggled to finish it. Most books, I'll finish in one night, maybe two. This book took me almost four nights. I finished it, largely out of respect for the author, because not finishing a novel isn't really my style. If Tina Reber can put her heart into writing it, I can respect her enough to finish it. Also, I paid for it and wanted to get my money's worth. Finally, I finished it because I was curious--I had to see if it got better as it went along. Sure enough, it did, but not until late in the novel. Mostly, I'm feeling somewhat disenchanted, and frankly deceived, by all of the five star reviews this book has gotten. For a debut novel, it wasn't terrible, but five stars is a bit much. I never read the reviews before I buy a book, I just read the synopsis and check the star stats on Amazon. If enough people liked it, I'll give it a shot. This book got a lot of five star reviews, so I trusted the reviewers and they sort of let me down.

The Characters:

Okay, here's the thing. I think my biggest issue with this book was the characters. They start out very stiff and one dimensional. They're just not believable. Or rather, Ryan is just not believable. Nothing about him screams movie star to me. I get that he has issues, but he's quite juvenile. As the novel progresses we find that he lies to her, leads her to believe half-truths, is overly jealous and possessive, and expects her to become the one thing she really doesn't want to be, reliant on him. As a matter of fact, he can be downright mean and nasty. He shouts at her, tells her what to do, and behaves quite hypocritically.

Taryn also really bothered me. She starts the novel as a woman in control of her life. She's suffered loss and had bad relationships, but she's educated (she went to Brown!) and is a savvy business owner/business woman. Single, she's in control and able to fend for herself, even if she is sort of alone in the world--though we learn that she does have family, she just refused to spend any time with them preferring to be alone. She turns down every man who walks through her door, doesn't give a whit about Ryan Christiansen, the famous actor, but when she finally meets him, she becomes this sort of mushy, wishy-washy girl who wants to please him. Very frustrating for a female character to start strong and deteriorate into something needy and neurotic.

I did, however, like Taryn's friends and Ryan's parents. All of them were well written, distinctive, and colorful, even if some of them were a bit stereotypical. Marie was what you expect a best friend to be, Tammy and Pete were fantastic additions to the cast, and Ellen and Bill were lovely. I liked each of them. I even liked the new-hire bartender, Cory, even though he wasn't given much in the way of personality.

Kyle was a problem for me. Mostly because, well, I liked him for the most part. At least up until the end. I thought he was attractive and friendly, and that both Taryn and Ryan were overreacting when there was nothing to freak about. If he gave her the creeps, or was overly pushy, why was she checking him out every time he was around? It can't really go both ways. She admits to attraction to him, but it's a little bit strange the way he fits into the story. His threads are a bit wonky too, since the smart and capable Taryn can't seem to see what's right in front of her face--she reminds me a bit of Oedipus in that, he was a great problem solver who couldn't see what was so obviously right in front of him. 

The Plot:

Overall, the plot was slow, but wasn't bad. For my taste, it took far too long to actually get anywhere. It just seemed like it was dragging on and on, and there were a lot of scenarios I didn't understand being included because they did nothing to add to the overall story. Also, small things took pages, while weeks would pass in one sentence, made the pacing awkward. By about 80% the story started to really pick up and a lot of important things started happening, which was awesome. I think she probably could have gotten to some of it much earlier in the book and it would have made for a more interesting read. But, the story does evolve and the character development is there, and for that Reber deserves much credit. By the end, you're rooting for Ryan and Taryn, or at least I was, and they had somewhat grown on me. Love Unscripted followed a fairly standard formula for it's genre, but that's fine, especially for a first novel.

The (Other) Issues:

Other than what I've already mentioned, my biggest issue was the stiff writing and unnatural dialogue. Reber uses many colloquialisms, which really detracts from suspension of disbelief. Also, she uses phrases that really distracted me, like "leave it go" rather than "let it go," but I'm going to chalk those up to dialectic issues because I don't know if people talk like that in the northeast. I know we don't in the south or on the west coast, but who knows. Also, she's unnecessarily wordy with descriptions and tells a lot of things she should be showing. There are a lot of explanations about the character's motivations, which is problematic because a savvy reader should be able to tell, from the character's actions, what their motivations are. The author shouldn't have to tell us. In this case, Reber didn't need to tell us, her characters motivations were perfectly clear and she could have left it at that, but for a debut novel it's a mistake that, perhaps, she will overcome as she produces more novels. 

Finally, and my biggest complaint, is that there were a lot of threads that go nowhere and things that're thrown in that doesn't turn into a plot thread. Several notable examples include: the empty condom wrapper she finds in his luggage (which is very shortly brushed under the rug, way, way later) that Taryn just chooses to ignore, or the person in his room he's hushing while he's whispering that he loves her rather than just saying it. Those are just two of many examples and it bothered me. I feel like she should have brought those things up if she was going to seed them. Very frustrating, as a reader, to wait for something to come full circle that just simply never does.

The Verdict:

Rating: 2.5/5
I think, if I had it to do over again, I would have passed on this one. I am, however, glad to have read it and, strangely, will probably consider buying Love Unrehearsed whenever it happens to be released (though it seems like a long time between release dates, considering Reber is still writing that sequel). I think, for a debut novel, this one could have been better but Reber clearly reaches an audience with this novel and for that she has to be commended. Hopefully her next novel will be much more praiseworthy--I'm willing to give her another shot.


  1. Hello there and how are you? I hope you are well. I tagged you for the Liebster Blog Award; I hope you don't mind. Have a good day!

  2. I can see that you probably like the book but not so much. The way you have described the revies of this is like you shared the review just for the sake of sharing. I believe therea are two faces of the same coin, perhaps when I read this I will get to the other face. In addition to this, every book cannot be loved by entire world, specific taste of people will definitely like it and opposite taste will surely not like it.

    Serial Killers

  3. To be completely honest I didnt even finish the book.It didnt grab my attention like I would've wanted, neither of the main characters were appealing to me and the story was simply boring. I didn't get Ryan's complete repulsion towards fame. And the whole fans, stalkers, and papparazzi storylines seemed a little to over the top. This book is simple and slow.

    Micky Johnson (Bellevue, WA Garage Door Repair)