Monday, March 6, 2023

Built to Last - Review

Built to Last

By: Erin Hahn

Publication: October 18th 2022 by St. Martin's Griffin

336 pages

Genre: Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--Two childhood sweethearts find a second chance at love in this adult romance debut from a critically acclaimed young adult author.

Shelby Springfield has spent the last ten years trying to overcome her past, sanding it away like she does the rough spots on the vintage furniture finds she makes over. But as a former child star, it’s hard to forget a mediocre pop career, a meltdown widely documented by the paparazzi, and a huge public break with her former co-star Lyle Jessup. It’s also hard to forget her other co-star and childhood sweetheart, Cameron Riggs -- the one who got away.

Anytime Shelby has called, Cameron has come running… And then he runs right off again to chase stories around the world by making documentaries, too scared to admit what he really wants. But when Lyle stirs the pot, getting the two back in the spotlight with a home renovation show, Cameron can't help but come on board.

There's something in it for everyone -- almost. Cameron wants to come home and set down some roots. Shelby wants to prove to the world she's not the messy party girl anymore. And Lyle wants to twist the screws on his two childhood friends who had more chemistry than he could dream of with anyone. Sparks and sawdust fly as Shelby and Cameron film the pilot for "Homemade" and battle Lyle’s shenanigans at every turn.

Erin Hahn’s sparkling rom com debut, Built to Last, is a second chance romance sure to have readers falling in love fast.

I guess I should start off with my personal drama first. In late 2020, we began researching an addition to our house which turned into an entire house remodel. I won't go into the details of how we landed on the contractor we did, but, the contractors themselves had been the financial backing for other projects but not done the work themselves. They hired workers and subcontractors. The workers for their actual crew had experience, but they didn't care enough to do the job right. And well, why would they when their bosses couldn't tell the difference? They could frame a wall, but not have it plumb. They could install a new door, but again not plumb or level. They could cut and nail trim work to the walls but not without 1/2 inch gaps in the corners that required large amounts of caulk. They could lay flooring but had no idea what to do around doors or transitions. They could hang cabinets but not level. They could install an island but not account for the swing of the refrigerator door. And the list goes on. So for me to believe that Cameron had a crash course apprenticeship under a skilled contractor within 2 weeks and actually came out capable of handling a TV show renovating houses, I scoff. There's so much more that goes into contracting than you think. At least in order to do it right. It helps that Cameron had the desire to do a good job. And, of course, Shelby's dad and others were a part of the team, so it is a little more feasible. But I feel sorry for anyone who gets a contractor who only has 2 weeks of experience behind them.

Aside from that completely unbelievable aspect, Built to Last had a lot of language. Why are so many f-words needed? I know some people love curse words. I'm convinced it's only because those people like to buck convention. Or they can't stand being told what not to say. I'm sure they argue that they're just words. Meh. I'm not one to moan about one or two, but sheesh. It felt excessive to me. Also, I'm coming off Georgie, All Along that was full of political statements, so I found some in Built to Last as well. Thankfully, they were more subtle and didn't try to take over the story. But annoying nonetheless.

A few of my complaints out of the way, I like how the story started with Cameron. Usually dual narratives begin with the female perspective. Starting with Cameron helps the reader to be sympathetic to him from the start whereas we might have had a skeptical reaction if we'd picked up with Shelby's perspective.

Shelby and Cameron were child/teen stars. They worked together on a TV show along with Lyle from the time they were about eleven until eighteen. Shelby and Lyle were the main stars, and Cameron played Lyle's character's best friend. We begin the book, as I mentioned, with Cameron coming the second Shelby calls him after breaking up with Lyle. Shelby is a wreck. She's not sober, and even though she comes onto Cameron, he stays strong and leaves without letting anything beyond some kissing take place.

Five years pass. Then we move into the now. Cameron has been working for National Georgraphic filming documentaries. I got the impression he was doing the camera work, but honestly, I don't think it was spelled out. Shelby is helping her dad flip houses, but mostly she restored furniture. Shelby attempted a reality TV show with her dad about the home renovation they do together, but her dad didn't have the star quality the network was looking for. She feels pressure to make sure he's taken care of, so she attempts to do the show but without her dad being her co-star. The network and show runner (namely Lyle) think Cameron would be the perfect fit for the co-host with Shelby.

I couldn't quite figure Lyle out. In some ways, he seemed angry at Shelby and Cameron. The characters seem to think he's out to get them. And I can see why. Yet he seems to spur both Shelby and Cameron into reconciling with each other and with some other broken relationships. Was he being manipulative and seeking to hurt them? Or was he playing puppet master and trying to force them into fixing past hurts? I don't feel like this was clear.

And I guess that's another complaint. I felt like I was missing information in more than one piece of the story. Cameron's involvement in the renovation process versus his involvement in the show as co-star and co-host. The business side of the show and what different people were trying to accomplish. And although I hate to do this, I've finished 3 books since I finished this one, and any time I read more books before writing my reviews, I start to forget things I wish I hadn't.

Favorite quotes:

-The sound strikes me right in the solar plexus--where I collect all my inconvenient feelings...

-"I can't be contained by a mere belt."

I guess ultimately for Built to Last I had more complaints than I have found positives for. Even though I liked Shelby and Cameron. I liked how both had past they had to work through to move forward. I liked how miscommunication and words not said between them caused problems. But I didn't like the language, descriptive scenes, subtle political statements, or story elements that were unclear. I guess I finally land on a 3.5 Star rating. Have you read Built to Last? What did you think? Let me know!

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