Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons; missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there’s the reason Lauren can’t admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend’s older brother.
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He’s the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her.
Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.
Years of pent up feelings. I already saw these characters getting together but then I’m just clueless on how they’ll get to that point of their lives.
We’ve been previously introduced to Lauren in I Want It That Way as Nadia’s best friend who dropped out of college and decided to return to their small town in Sharon, Nebraska. My first thought when Ann Aguirre pulled that “drop out – return to their town” scenario was “Oh how fitting for Lauren and Rob’s character to meet-up again”. I was really giddy and at the same time apprehensive about it. I’m not so sure if Aguirre just used it for their characters to cross paths again. But then looking at it now that I’ve finished reading the book, it was a fitting move for Lauren’s character and it was something she actually needed to do.
In IWITW, Lauren pretty much kept everything about herself locked in and didn’t offer to open up to Nadia. Until the latter part of the book which isn’t that much of an explanation to everything. So here in ALAYLM, we were able to figure out what triggered her actions in the previous book. Apparently, Lauren has a severe social anxiety. She gets all panicky when thrust into situations which involved huge crowds and even meeting new people. She even resulted to creating this another persona/identity to cover up her real self and getting herself drunk just to surpass those kinds of circumstances.
In this book, we see Lauren addressing her issues and seeking professional help in dealing with it. I love the fact that she tried to fix herself on her own. She knows she needed to do it to be whole and before being fully into a relationship. Lauren exhibited such growth and maturity.
Rob Conrad is the brother of Lauren’s best friend, Nadia. It was revealed in IWITW that Lauren has a crush on Rob since they were kids and at present her feelings for him stayed the same. In her world, Rob is the perfect guy and a true boyfriend material.
“Don’t change for her, okay? You’re great the way you are.” – Lauren
But it isn’t the case for Rob. This dude doesn’t have any ounce of confidence in his body because all his life it has been trumped by everyone just taking him for his face value. People doesn’t bother to get to know the real him, including his family. His parents treat him like he’s just a fixture to their lives and only becomes visible if they need anything or they need Rob to do something for Nadia. Oh yeah, I’m actually pissed with Nadia. She’s so insensitive when it comes to her family and how her family treats her brother. Thank goodness for Lauren’s existence. Though, Nadia’s character was able to redeem herself later on in the story.
I feel Rob’s frustration and I really feel for him. And it’s amazing that Rob didn’t have a burst out or breakdown moment in front of his entire family. Well, he isn’t that type of guy. I would’ve loved the story more if Rob and his entire family had a talk about his issues towards them because I think it’s high time for them to realize what they’ve been doing to their son after all these years. It would’ve been a great closure to the story.
“It’s the truth, Lauren. I’m not a guy women dream of settling down with … They don’t go out with me once, then start planning our futures. I’m the one they sleep with before they meet Mr. Right.” – Rob
Rob’s the perfect guy for Lauren to be with and same with Lauren being the perfect girl for Rob. They understand each other. So when we reached this crucial moment of the book, Lauren’s knee jerk reaction was really understandable. She understands Rob and how his mind works and she thought that that was the only straw left for her to pull. It worked and it was in favour of what she wanted for the outcome to be. Rob understands Lauren too but when push comes to shove, his insecurities and his way of thinking that he’s someone not worthy of having Lauren by his side always gets the best of him. He needs all the reassurance in the world because he is that scarred by his previous experiences in his life.
Both of them just have to be thankful for having each other.
“Shit, Lauren, not even my own family saw anything in me. Without you, I’m empty. And no matter how far I climb, it’ll always feel hollow if you’re not with me.” – Rob
One of the best parts in this book is the relationship between Lauren and Avery. We’re usually given scenes in books that the past and the present girlfriend cannot stand to be in the same room and there’s this often occurrence of bitch fight scenes when both of them is around. I didn’t say that there isn’t a bitch fight scene that happened in this book because there is.
So when Aguirre opted for these two ladies to be able to connect with each other, other than their role in Rob’s life, I was floored and ecstatic about it. I have no idea how their characters will really connect and deal with each other. But as the story progresses, you can see and feel how real they are with each other. Honestly, I felt Lauren and Avery’s friendship is more genuine than the one she had with Nadia. I don’t know if it’s just because of the timing and there are other stuff going on in Nadia’s life but Lauren with Avery turned into this very open person. Maybe because Avery’s also going through something in her life and Lauren seek comfort to it. Just like Rob and Lauren’s relationship, Avery just fits right in in Lauren’s life same way with Lauren fits in hers. I love that they eventually became each other’s strengths and how protective they are towards each other. I definitely adore their friendship and you’ll end up wanting to have something like that in your life.
I enjoyed reading As Long As You Love and I can say confidently say that this one’s definitely better than the first one. 🙂