Arc provided by Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release date November 5, 2019. Pre-Order it on Amazon.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ FOUR STARS
This book had me all over the damn place. From feeling hopeful to uncomfortable to practically swooning with glee, my emotions were put through the wringer in Stealing Her. The reason for this was my simultaneous adoration for the characters as well as slight repulsion at what they were doing. I wanted them to have their happily ever-after and yet I acutely disliked the only means in which they could attain it. Despite the emotional roller-coaster and the fact that I hadn’t read one of her novels in years, Rachel Van Dyken has impressed me again after all of this time.
The story follows Bridge and Julian Tennyson. Twins – brothers -separated by divorce, betrayal and years of anger. When Julian is injured in a car accident and left in a coma, it’s up to Bridge to assume the role as CEO and save the company from the assured stock-market and investor loss that is associated with instability in a multi-billion dollar corporation. What Bridge hadn’t anticipated in his attempt to preserve everything his brother had worked so hard for, was Julian’s fiancé.
Isobel had lost everything she once held dear. Her family, her independence and her love for Julian. As an orphan taken in by the Tennyson’s, Isobel owes her high-fling lifestyle all to their generosity. With the expectation to be the perfect trophy wife, of course. After all, nothing in life comes for free.
Her once soaring love for Julian had long since dwindled and in its place was a woman who hadn’t experienced kindness in a long time. I found myself hoping that she would gain back her youthful confidence that we’d been shown glimpses of at the beginning of the story. While she did, it was done in a co-dependent manner that I wasn’t a complete fan of. She deserved to gain back her career, independence and self-sufficiency. This wasn’t really addressed and it left me feeling disappointed.
When Bridge assumes his façade of being Julian Tennyson, he’s expected to ensure Isobel is kept in the dark. The return of kind, considerate and playful Julian (AKA Bridge) is enough to re-establish Isobel’s feelings however, she’s not aware that they’re for the wrong guy!
What ensued was a daringly honest and controversial story of falling in love with the wrong person. What I adored about this story (and similarly was uncomfortable by) was the way in which the author highlighted the imperfections and flaws in each character. This was not an insta-love. Nor was it a relationship I could wholeheartedly get behind. It was gritty, emotional and a little bit raw. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Julian’s verbal condescension near the end of his relationship with Isobel had me disliking him at first. However, when his father’s abusive nature and the neglect he suffered was shown in a glimpse of his past, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. In a way, his actions were a result of a severely misguided attempt to gain his father’s approval. While this by no means excuses his actions, it does make him human. His genuine love for Isobel was also shown. Even when they were nearly at breaking point before his accident. He was painted as the bad guy, but he also had a lot of good in him. He was a lost, lonely soul that needed to be shown the error in prioritising his father’s approval over everything else.
My reason for only giving Stealing her four stars was the fact that I couldn’t get over Bridge and Isobel’s actions without yelling CHEATER in my head – even though I wanted them to have a happy ending. I’m also a sucker for being a fan of the underdog. While Julian was the underdog in this case, he was painted a bit too harshly in my opinion. He was condoned for cheating and yet Bridge and Isobel were doing exactly that. They were all cheaters. They were all a result of shitty childhoods and troubled pasts. I felt like Julian should have been given a bit more empathy and slack in his portrayal. I hope the next book follows him and we get to see his story turn in to a happier one!
// have you ever read a book that’s caused you emotional turmoil? do you side with the underdog? //