Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasonsmissing 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 foreveruntil 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.
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
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It would be hard to argue with anyone who called me a failure.
By twenty-one, I'd lost my college scholarship, passed up a great guy and moved back in with my mom. Who was glad to see me, but it wasn't the glorious homecoming I'd dreamed of when I packed my bags three years ago. Still, even flavored with regret, I couldn't deny a certain happiness about being home. Sharon, Nebraska, wasn't much, just a tiny dot on the map. The downtown had all of six stores, and there were no shopping centers at all, at least not without driving forty miles, unless you counted the Walmart. We had McDonald's and Pizza Hut, a roadhouse, two bars and a place called Patty's Pancakes. Not surprisingly, they specialized in pancakes. The Grove was the only fancy place, a restored historic site; none of my dates had ever taken me there. But the smallness of the town meant everybody knew you, and there was some comfort in the familiarity and the gossip.
At the moment, my life was kind of a messbut as I unpacked the last box, I sighed in relief. No more classes, no more faking interest in my alleged future when I talked to my best friend and roommate, Nadia. It used to be hard as hell, pretending everything was okay when my life was imploding. Yet even though I couldn't share what I'd been going through, I'd miss Nadia; she was still in Michigan while I'd returned to Sharon to start over.
My mom tapped on the open door. "I didn't really change anything. We can paint if you want or I could make new curtains."
"That sounds fun." I wasn't being sarcastic. This room hadn't been redecorated since I was thirteen, and the lavender was a little much. Not to mention the full-on princess theme going on here, between the white and gold furniture, the fluffy purple rug, all of my stuffed animals and a bookshelf overflowing with fantasy novels featuring knights and orphaned heiresses. The floral print bedspread and curtains made me want to crawl under the ruffled bed skirt and stay there.
"What did you have in mind?" Mom asked.
She looked great; the transformation I'd noticed when I'd last seen her at Thanksgiving had continued. It was now February and she'd lost that final twenty pounds, so if anything, she was slimmer than me. That should probably agitate me, but it was so good to see her rebounding. After my dad left, I thought she was wrecked permanently.
"White on the walls, red plaid curtains?"
"Could be cute. Bedspread?"
"To match the curtains, if you can make one. Or would that be too much?"
She cocked her head, thinking about it. "Probably not, as long as you don't do patterns on the pillows as well."
"I didn't plan to."
"I'm so happy you're here. Even if it means things didn't work out at Mount Albion." She was careful not to state it aloudthat I flunked out of school, came home in disgrace, or at least, that was the talk around town. The worst of the church ladies whispered that I was pregnant, too.
"Thanks." I gave Mom a quick hug. "Can I borrow the car?" So weird to be asking that. "I need a few things."
"Not a problem. Can you pick up milk and eggs?" Her eyes sparkled as they met mine, conveying her awareness of how many times we'd enacted this same scene when I was in high school.
"It's the least I can do." I paused a beat, as she expected, then added, "Wait, no, that would be nothing. But then I don't get the car keys."
"Right again." She led the way downstairs and dropped them into my open palm. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
I grinned, gesturing at my messy up-do and grungy gray sweats. "It's tough when you look like this, but I'll try not to break any hearts."
Mom smirked. "See you later, Lauren."
It was half past three on Saturday afternoon as I skipped down the front steps. The house, a two-bedroom shotgun style, looked better than it had in years. Though my mom hadn't admitted it yet, I suspected she had a guy coming around for upkeep and repairs, maybe more. She might think it would be awkward to tell me she was dating again, but in my view, it was past time. My dad had been gone for ten years, and the divorce had been final for eight. By no means could this be considered a sudden development.
I got into the old Plymouth and started it up. It made sense for me to buy my own car, but I couldn't afford it at the moment. Ten minutes later, I pulled into the Safeway parking lot. Since I needed lotion and deodorant, I'd get milk and eggs at the same time. No reason to drive farther for more choices. As kids, we used to do crazy shit in the parking lot, mostly because there was nothing else to do. I remembered drinking behind the store and Nadia pushing me around in a shopping cart until management came out to yell at us.
The nostalgia that swept over me was deep and rich; no matter where I went, this would always be home. To a lot of people, Sharon seemed stifling, I guessed, a complete dearth of opportunities, but I hoped to get into computer science and land a job where I could telecommute. I'd always been more into fiddling with programs and apps than anyone else I knew, but I also had causes. So I tried the latter first and discovered I hated it enough to start over, even if it meant losing momentum on the academic track. Nobody knew thisand I'd never admit itbut the reason I flunked out was because I stopped trying. People always seemed to think I must be dumb, possibly because I'm blond and curvy. And that pissed me off.
Six cars in the lotI counted them as I went inside. No need for a cart. I picked a wheeled basket instead and got the groceries before heading to the small cosmetics section. There, I found Nadia's brother. As ever, my pulse went into overdrive and my knees went soft. I'd always had this reaction to him; too bad he treated me like an honorary sibling.
Belatedly I noticed he was deliberating the merits of two body sprays. They were both that terrible, smelly stuff that commercials claimed would make guys irresistible to the ladies but really reeked like chemical muskrat death. I mustered some normal and stopped peering around the shelf at him.
"Neither," I said, stepping into sight. "Please? Have mercy, seriously."
Rob glanced up in surprise. "Not good, huh?"
"Your sweat smells better, I promise."
"That's a weird thing to say, Lauren." His expression was unreadable, but that was no surprise. Nadia always compared her brother to a tree stump.
I suspected he was more like one of those giant sequoias. There might be all kinds of things going on, but you'd never climb high enough to see it. The worst thing about Robert Conrad? In eighth grade, I had a killer crush on him. He was a senior in high school at the time, lettered in both football and basketball, while I was a chubby little grease spot with braces and a terminal case of the stutters anytime he spoke to me. We'd both moved on from those awkward days, but any time I ran into him, I felt thirteen again, nerves jangling like a car alarm.
In some cases, time was unkind to high school athletes. They lost their hair and muscle tone. But the opposite was true of Rob. He worked construction alongside his dad, and at twenty-five, his shoulders were so broad that I wanted to climb him. Not with the giggly uncertainty of junior high, either. He was all solid muscle, great guns, ripped abs and incredibly defined deltoids. When you added chiseled features, strong jaw, blue-gray eyes and dark hair, it was hard not to drool. But it was so wrong to think that way about my best friend's brother. I had no idea if he'd noticed my crush back in the day, but if so, he was kind enough to ignore it and not tease me. I'd slept with other guys since then, enjoyed sex just fine, but I still tingled whenever he was nearby.
Yeah, I'm taking that secret to my grave.
Shit. I was.
"Sorry, I was considering some better options for you, cologne-wise, but I don't think you'll find anything here."
He sighed and put the two sprays back. "Avery should buy it then. Because I have no idea what she's talking about."
"What did she say?"
My fist balled up, a knee-jerk reaction to hearing about his girlfriend. They'd started dating back in the fall and were still together, apparently. At Thanksgiving, I'd gone home with Nadia, who'd invited my mom and me over to Casa Conrad to eat. Watching Rob with Avery, it had been all I could do not to yank her hair out. She was so beautifulmodel thin, with natural red hair, green eyes and the sort of face I'd call ethereal; she could dress up as Titania, the fairy queen, and totally pull it off. That day, he'd taken such great care of her, filling her plate, making sure she had a drink and was never just sitting, lonely. Seeing that made me ache.
"She wants me to be more upscale."
"What are you, a trendy eatery?"
In my opinion, Rob didn't need improving. He was rocking those Levi's, along with a blue plaid flannel shirt and navy down vest. No, he wasn't a GQ guy, but why the hell would any woman want that from him? Also, I kind of wanted to hug him, if he thought he could buy "upscale" at Safeway.
He laughed. "Not hardly."
It might not be any of my business, but "Don't change for her, okay? You're great the way you are."
His eyes widened. Not for the first time, I noted that his irises were a swirl of charcoal and mist with specks of blue, fringed by ridiculously thick black lashes. In a face without such a strong nose and firm chin, those eyes would make him too pretty. When I had sleepovers at Nadia's, back in high school, I imagined him cornering me and shoving me against the wall, overcome by his unspoken longings. That was pretty much my favorite fantasy when I was sixteen, but Rob never gave any sign he suffered from ungovernable passion.
"That's not true," he said quietly.
A little flicker in his eyes, a twist of his mouth, and I got the impression that he was incredibly sad. He didn't have an expressive face, and truthfully, his at-rest look suggested he didn't have much going on in his brain box. Behind his back, people had been calling him the quintessential dumb jock for as long as I could remember. The girl he went out with in high school dished about his body, but she never mentioned any other traits. In my rich fantasy life, I'd never wondered about his thoughts or feelings, either, and staring up at him now, a pang of remorse went through me.
"I disagree. But don't take my word for it," I said breezily. "I'm just the idiot who flunked out of Mount Albion."
"Bullshit. You were always on the honor roll along with Nadia. You're only here because you want to be."
I was astonished into silence for a few seconds, then I rallied. "That's a bold statement. What about the love child I'm having?"
His gaze swept down my body, quietly intense. "Nope."
I wished I was wearing anything but sweats and that my hair wasn't a bird's nest. But he'd known me since I was seven, and he'd never seen me as a potential anything, so that was pointless regret. A dress or a hairstyle wouldn't change a lifetime of indifference.
"I should get going," I said. "My mom's waiting for the milk and eggs."
Clearly, I should win a prize for clever comments. But Rob nodded like I didn't sound like a sixteen-year-old dip-shit with a specialization in being weird around boys. Which was so messed up; at school, the one damn thing I excelled at was witty banter, making guys laugh. I was fucking popular at Mount Albion.
"You doing anything tonight?" he asked.
Huh? Somehow I managed not to let my jaw drop open. "Not really. I just got unpacked and most of my friends from high school are gone."
"Avery's visiting her cousin in Omaha this weekend, so I thought maybe you want to split a pizza. I don't feel like cooking."
Wow. This is definitely not a date.
"Sounds good," I said. "What time?"
"Sure. You remember where I live?" He'd driven me home a few times when Nadia called him to rescue us from out-of-control parties, but I didn't imagine those occasions made much impression on him.
To my surprise, he nodded. "Out on Dover Road still, right?"
"Yep, that's the place." With a friendly wave, I pulled my basket past him and went to the checkout lane.
I kept the excitement in check until I got into my car, then I full-out screamed. My favorite high school memory involved Rob pulling up at a farmhouse, drunken teenagers all over the yard. I'd stumbled outside with a guy who was wasted enough that he wouldn't take no for an answer. The dude pushed me against the garage, his mouth loose and wet on my neck, while I shuddered and shoved at him. In the next instant, he wasn't touching me anymore. Rob yanked him off and took him out with one punch. Then he put a gentle hand on my shoulder and helped me to the car. He'd always protected me like a little sister, but I responded to it differently than Nadia. She was impatient over his protective streak, sharp and annoyed, while I wanted to make out with him instead of the high school boys on offer. I'd spied on him kissing his girlfriend, and it fueled my fantasies for, like, two years.
Telling myself not to be stupid, I drove home and put away the groceries. My mom was getting ready for a date, which proved I was right about Mr. Handyman. I propped myself in the doorway to the bathroom and watched her put on lipstick.
"So when do I get to meet him?"
She flushed. "You don't mind?"
"Of course not. It's good to see you happy."
"There's leftovers in the fridge"
"Don't worry about it. Rob's picking me up in an hour."
"Nadia's brother?" Her brows shot up. "Isn't he dating that awful Jacobs girl?"
Sharon didn't have much of an upper class, but Avery Jacobs definitely belonged to it; she wore nothing but name brands and had a driver who made sure she never rode the bus. In school, her nose had been so far in the air, it was a wonder she didn't drown during a rainstorm. Nadia had been friends with her when we were younger, but I never was, and I liked Avery less when she ditched Nadia as soon as the cliques formed in junior high.
"She's out of town, and it's just pizza. He probably feels sorry for me, what with my mom having a better social life and all." I grinned to show I was teasing.
She threw a cotton ball at me. "That's not funny. If you knew how long I waffled over telling you about Stuart "
"So that's his name."
"He sells insurance," Mom said. "You'd think that makes him boring, but he's very sweet."
"No need to convince me. I need a shower, though, if you're almost done in there."
"No problem. I can finish my makeup in the kitchen."
Damn. She's pulling out all the stops.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is Lauren and Rob's story. After reading book one, I knew something more was going on with Lauren especially in the Max department, but I really had no idea. We only get glimpses of Rob, so I knew very little about him, but he was easy to like. I hate the way people treat him. Even his family! I wanted to kick them. He's not a genius, but he's no where near as stupid as his family makes him feel. He has a different kind of intelligence, and he's very talented. I really felt for him. I think Lauren is just what he needs and visa versa, but they let their baggage get in the way. Will they get over it? I'll never tell! The ARC of As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre was kindly provided to me by the publisher through Net Galley for review. The opinions are my own.
I was a little skeptical about starting As Long As You Love me considering I was a little disappointed with its predecessor I Want It That Way. I didn’t love Lauren in the first installment of the series but I knew I needed to find out what happened next. I am so happy I did because I loved As Long As You Love Me. Lauren has moved home after dropping out of college before the end of her senior year. No more parties, no more sharing an apartment with her best friend, and no more faking it. Lauren has been faking who she is since high school and after a major incident that got her friend hurt she realizes she needs to get out of school and go home. While Lauren’s home she realizes the crush she’s had on her best friend Nadia’s older brother hasn’t gone away. The more time they spend together the more she realizes how truly in love she is with him and he’s wanted her for a long time too. Sharing a bond beyond anything they could have imagined they hold each other together and build each other up. Too bad nothing is every that easy and it will take some time for them to find each other again. What was lacking for me in I Want It That Way was exactly what I got in As Long As You Love Me and that’s character growth. Lauren has issues with social anxiety where she can’t stand to go into social settings for too long, unless she’s drunk. Instead Lauren tries to find ways to become better at managing her problems and she sets major goals for herself so she can become a better Lauren. Her life isn’t without challenges but I enjoyed how much she changed and grew over the course of the book. Character development is definitely something I love almost above all else in books. Rob has issues as well but let me just say something before I get into all of that. Rob is the perfect guy ever. He’s not too crude, always polite and he’s very careful with how he treats people. He’s just an all -around great guy. Anyway, Rob has always been treated by his family like the big dumb jock who will never amount to anything. His grandmother even said “poor Rob too smart to know he’s stupid,” which is freaking terrible. The last chapter of the book goes over some of his learning problems but honestly it’s no big deal. He can figure things out by himself and he knows how to build things which is more than I can say about myself. He deals a lot with low self-esteem since all anyone has wanted from him is arm candy. It’s terrible and it made me want to hug him. There is no doubt in my mind people won’t fall in love with Rob right away. Damaged characters and a beautiful love story is what Ann Aguirre has crafted for us in As Long As You Love Me. It’s tragic and heart wrenching and I felt for the characters every step of the way. Ann Aguirre portrays realistic relationships with real problems and a loveable cast of characters in every page. My overall message is that if you’ve read the first book and didn’t love it you will love As Long As You Love Me. I could hardly put this story down although homework did call a couple times. I couldn’t have found a better New Adult book and I will definitely be re-reading this book a thousand times, A huge thank you to Harlequin HQN and Netgalley for the copy. Teaser: "Rob pulled into the parking lot. Unquestionably, I was biased, but he looked even better than usual in a red plaid shirt and an expensive-looking leather jacket lined with sheepskin." Swoon: "Hot and rough, sparks of sweetness interspersed with nips of teeth, and the thrust of his tongue. Breaking contact with a gasp, Rob fell back on my bed, intentionally, I thought, and when I followed, he rolled me beneath him."
Since meeting Lauren and having all kinds of conflicting feelings about her in I Want It That Way, I couldn’t wait to learn more about her. I got my wish with As Long As You Love Me and I really enjoyed her story. In As Long As You Love Me, Lauren has headed home to Nebraska after deciding being away at college just wasn’t the right place for her. Nebraska is home and it’s where she wants to be. She misses her family… and her best friend Nadia’s older brother, Rob. And after getting just a tiny glimpse into the amazingness that was Rob the first time they were face-to-face, I can’t say I blame her. Rob is definitely on my list of favorite book boyfriends of 2014. Rob was hot and sexy – and sick and tired of being treated like that’s ALL he was. He was all man, but vulnerable underneath the tough exterior. He’s always been just a pretty face and a nice body. No one expected him to be anything else – not his family, not his sister, not his friends or girlfriend. Lauren knows there’s more to him than meets the eye and spends time, first as his friend and later as his girlfriend, helping him realize she believes in him. I could seriously gush endlessly about Rob, but I’ll restrain myself. He was just such a sweet guy and got so little from anyone else in return. I loved the dynamic between him and Lauren. Even when they began hanging out as friends, I knew that wouldn’t be enough for either of them. There was a very clear attraction between them, though Rob did have a girlfriend at the time. And no, this isn’t a cheating story, so don’t fret about that if it’s one of your triggers. Lauren opens Rob’s eyes to a lot of things and is there by his side as he does everything from remodel his home to start a new business building furniture. She was his source of support through rough family times and it made me love them both that much more. Of course, no romance book would be complete without a little struggle. Rob and Lauren have that. I didn’t love the reason for the strife, but I understood it. I thought perhaps it went on a little too long and took away from [SPOILER ALERT] more time with them together as a couple at the end. Though I watched them grow together through most of the book, I still wanted more time of them post-drama. But, I’m greedy like that. [/SPOILER ALERT] One of my favorite, non-Rob things about this book was the reappearance of Nadia, Ty and Sam! I was so glad to see them back in the picture and find out that things were going well for them in their new family. They seriously warm my heart. <3 As Long As You Love Me was a great addition to Ann Aguirre’s 2B Trilogy. It was sweet and sexy and made me feel all the feels. I loved the characters and, even with the couple issues I had with the relationship drama and the timing of the ending, it was still a total five-star read for me. I can’t wait to read the third and final book, The Shape of My Heart. It’s Max’s book! I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
As long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre was a lovely read. It focused on Lauren Barrett as she comes home from college after three years ready to start anew. Life away at school just didn't fit - not that she is really admitting that to anyone! When she comes back home to Sharon, Nebraska she runs into her best friend’s older brother and her long time crush, the absolutely swoon worthy Rob Conrad. Since high school, Rob has just been going through the motions as he can't figure out why his life and loves are just at a stand still. But what happens when the two of them come together without his sister and her best friend in the middle? Will they get together and be able to heal each other? Will all of their insecurities melt away when they are together? What I enjoyed most about Kate Ann Aguirre’s characters’ is that they were real and flawed, not the perfect fictional characters that you could never see yourself or anyone you know in. Yes they were gorgeous but no they were most certainly NOT perfect. They made mistakes and did not correct them right away. They had real insecurities that many of us face to some extent or know people that do and they helped each other be strong enough to face them head on. To see in themselves the beauty and strength that the other saw. That is the true beauty of this story. I recommend this read. I received a complimentary copy, in exchange for an honest review.
The second book in the 2B Trilogy by Ann Aguirre brings together Nadia’s (the first book’s mc) best friend, Lauren, and brother, Rob. Lauren had a go at college and realized it just wasn’t for her. So she’s moved back to her hometown of Sharon, Nebraska to sort out her life. Since she first met him, Lauren has been infatuated with Nadia’s brother. What started as a simple tween crush has evolved over the years into something more and more. Even now that Rob has a girlfriend, Lauren can’t help her feelings from bubbling up for him whenever he’s around or comes up in conversation. She’s aware that she’ll never have a happy ever after with him—both due to his girlfriend and his lack of feelings toward her—but she still wants to get to know him on a deeper, personal level. Coming to an agreement, Rob and Lauren find a way to help each other out, and during this time, they become closer. Their brother/sister type relationship begins to blur into something else. His conveniently timed break up from his girlfriend doesn’t hurt either. I was a bit surprised by how gullible Rob was when the big drama erupted, but then I took into consideration how worthless he’s been made to feel his entire life, and how much he’s been put down in the past and it made sense. His naivety was actually quite spot on and reasonable. He’s always been told all he has going for him are his looks, and that he wouldn’t amount to anything. Yet that’s not true at all. He’s amazing at flipping houses and working construction. Lauren helps him see that he is intelligent and he does have skills and talent worth pursuing. It was a nice surprise to have such a reserved and fragile male lead, and the female doing the saving. Although, I think they had a nice trade off in helping one another. Overall, a cute and light take on the new adult genre. I liked it, just didn’t love it. I wasn’t able to feel that intense chemistry between the main characters. No doubt they had a connection, but there weren’t any fireworks. I will say that I’m still intrigued by Max’s story, and will finish this series.
This books is AMAZING!! Ann Aguirre had me completely hooked by the first page. Lauren and Rob quickly became favorite characters for me. The best part about them? They were real. Often in romance novels, one or more of the main characters have superficial flaws. No one is perfect and therefore neither can their characters be. Then there is the other extreme, characters so flawed that the reader has a hard time finding redemption for them at the end of the book. Lauren and Rob felt like the couple next door. The ones who dealt with everyday issues on the outside, just like me. However, through the book, I was given a glimpse into their private struggles and the certain knowledge that again, like me, they faced fears and trials that would seem simple or trivial to others around them. Lauren is the ultimate computer nerd. She would spend her life alone in her room, coding and gaming, if the world would let her. Yet, she has spent years cultivating an image of the partying H.S student, and then coed. To the world around her, she is carefree, the life of the party, and happy to be where she is. But, it’s all a façade. In reality, she I slowly breaking under the strain of being someone she is not. She loathes crowds, to the point of panic attacks, has trust/daddy issues, and hates being away from home. Eventually, Lauren drops out of school and returns to her comfort zone. I just need to stop here for one moment and also commend Ms. Aguirre on the way she handled the “dating” situation with Lauren’s mom. It was so refreshing to read a book where none of the book’s “conflict” is stemmed from daughter/mom’s boyfriend tension. Anyway, Lauren eventually reconnects with her best friend’s brother, Rob, whom she has been crushing on since she was a middle schooler. Rob is gorgeous. In H.S. he was the superstar football that every girl wanted to date. He was labeled a stereotypical sexy but empty-headed, jock. He is forever being talked down to, and never even given a chance to prove himself. Now, don’t get me wrong, Rob isn’t a braniac. However, he is smart in the ways that truly count, and if people would give him a chance, he would most likely rise above their expectations. He is viewed as a gorgeous shell. Man candy. This is where Ms. Aguirre took a rare turn in the character. So often in books, the jock, no matter how smart or unintelligent, is cocky, revered, and floats through life on his looks and star status. However, Rob has been so underestimated and so devalued, that he has lost all confidence in himself. He has accepted that he will never really make anything of himself, and that he will never get his HEA because he is the “for now” guy, not the “forever” guy. When these two collide, they find solace in each other. Lauren sees the greatness in Rob and she desperately wants him to see himself through her eyes and show the world that they are wrong about him. Rob sees the comfort and understanding that Lauren needs, someone who will not ask her to step beyond her boundaries, and accepts her as she is. They begin to find that beautiful love story that we all look for in a romance. There is steamy passion, humor and wit, character growth, and so much more that kept me riveted to the pages. But, in order for the characters to be real, the world does not send them happily off into the sunset. Rob and Lauren eventually realize that while they are a safe haven for each other, they are also the emergency brake that keeps their lives from moving forward. They need to break free and find their own way in order to walk the paths of their future together. The thing is, they don’t just up and decide its “all good” one day. They have to get help and go through a healing process. This is what makes this book so REAL. This story was just beautiful. I am a sappy romantic and there were definitely parts where the author had me melting into a gooey puddle. Rob has enough confidence to bring some Alpha to the relationship and it is hot! Then on the other end of the spectrum, she had me tearing up at the pain from the inevitable choices that they are forced to make. This book is so far past 5 stars, it’s headed for another galaxy. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Ah...best friend's older brother. Such a fun troupe! Ann Aguirre does a great job with it in As Long As You Love Me, the second book in her 2B trilogy. Most of the novel takes place during the second half of the same year in which book one, I Want It That Way, takes place. If you've read the first book, there are glimpses into what Nadia (and Ty and Sam!) are doing, but you definitely don't have to have read it to enjoy this book. Actually, since Lauren has already moved out of apartment 2B by the time As Long As You Love Me starts and has very little contact with its inhabitants (plus the fact that in book one she went out of her way to hide what she was thinking and feeling from her BFF Nadia in the first book anyway), it would work fine as a stand alone. In other words, don't let the fact that you might not have read IWITW yet stop you from giving this one a try. I'm not saying you won't want to read book one once you finish, but hey--just start the series somewhere, would you? ;) Rob Conrad has become my new book boyfriend. He's strong, steady, thoughtful--and totally unappreciated by just about everyone he knows. He once overheard his own grandmother say, "Poor Rob. He's just smart enough to know he's dumb." The fact that she didn't realize he could hear her in no way excuses her comment. He's stayed in Sharon, Nebraska, working in construction with his father and has become totally used to being considered "less-than". He's less than his younger sister Nadia, who everyone knew would go on to college and better things after high school. He's even said, "It's a good thing I'm hot, right?" and not in a cocky, full-of-himself kind of way, but instead with an it's-obviously-all-I've-got-going-for-me air. Honestly, he broke my heart. But he's great at construction; he's even bought a house that he's restoring in his free time with plans to flip or possibly keep when he's done. He's made some furniture for it already--in fact, his dream is to someday make a living from creating custom order furniture...a dream he's trusted with exactly one person: Lauren. Lauren Barrett realized shortly after arriving at Mount Albion College on scholarship that it wasn't for her, but instead of owning up to her mistake and doing something constructive about it, she went into a self-destructive downward spiral of booze, boys, and bad decisions. Now she's back in Sharon, a bit at loose ends but relieved to not have to be pretending to be something she's not anymore. She's planning on continuing her college education online--in a field better suited to her interests and abilities--and finding some full-time work to do in the meantime. And if she also picked up her old habit of lusting after Nadia's big brother while she's at it? Well, a girl does need a hobby to occupy her time... I loved watching Lauren and Rob get close. We see the entire story from her POV (except for one bonus scene at the end where we see things from Rob's veiwpoint during part of the time when they're apart), and it was just so sweet watching him change from the old object of her crush to a guy she finally really comes to know and love. When she realized that she'd never heard him laugh before the first time she made him chuckle? Had me feeling all the feels. When he surprised both of us with his quiet humor in response to Lauren's snarky comments? Made me melt inside. Like this scene before they're even dating, when Lauren's offered to help him work on his house: With resumes turned in, I had nothing else to do. "Nope. Do you mind picking me up?" "Not at all." Rob headed for the door because our business was done, but he paused, wearing a faint frown. "Don't wear anything cute." "Because...we hate cuteness? It--and not money--is the root of all evil?" To my everlasting delight, he played along. "Truly. In fact, we'd better set off on a world-saving mission instead. You and me, destroying cuteness wherever we find it." "We'll have to destroy all the Build-A-Bears. The children will never understand." "But that's why we have to succeed, Lauren. For the children." His mock-earnest look was so adorable that if he were my boyfriend, I'd shove him onto my unicorn-strewn purple comforter and do dirty things to him. I met his gaze and nodded with resigned stoicism. "I'm in." For the second time, I made Rob laugh. He pocketed his tape measure and strode toward me, tipping my face up as he would if he meant to kiss me. My heart went nuts, but he pecked my forehead, as I'd seen him do to Nadia a thousand times, usually when she was being a goof ball. In that moment I must have looked like a deflating balloon. "Seriously, I just meant--wear something you won't ruin working on the house." I nodded. "See you tomorrow." This partnership was probably a terrible idea, but since the universe kept handing me excuses to hang around with Rob, I couldn't say no. Deep down, I suspected I'd been skating toward my first broken heart since I was thirteen years old, and there was nothing for it now but to make good. I flopped on my bed with a sigh. Well then, world. Bring it on. How could anyone see this guy as nothing more than a pretty (okay, gorgeously hot) face? Honestly, he slayed me over and over again with his quiet wit and earnestness. When the bad-relationship-moment comes, Lauren was my least favorite person ever. I'm still not a hundred-percent convinced that it's an all's well that ends well ending, because ohmygoodness, she's breathtakingly cruel to him. Yes, she needed to work through her own issues and get herself to a place where she could be the type of girl he deserves, but..wow. Even now I'm still giving her the squinty-eyed glare. But, okay--she needed to work through her stuff, and he does do amazingly well for himself in her absence--he admits feeling the need to prove himself, because of the anger and hurt he felt, so...all right, then. It's still hard to remember, though. But oh, yes, there's a happy ending. For my new book boyfriend and the woman who finally deserves him. And their beagle. Bring on Max and Courtney's story (The Shape of My Heart), because I'm ready! Rating: 4 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am not sure this genre features Ann Aguirre’s best writing. For me, Ann Aguirre creates the most amazing worlds – creative, edgy, and dark. I’m currently reading another one of her books, Havoc, and I’m enthralled. So I’m sorry to say that I don’t feel the same way about this story because she doesn’t get to stretch her world-building skills. The irony is that I read many more romance and New Adult books than science fiction. Still, I liked a lot of things about the book, but I didn’t feel compelled by the story. I like the premise. Going against the norm, small-town girl Lauren doesn’t want to escape from the small town, she wants to go home. Back at home she reconnects with her best-friend’s brother, a man she has had a mad crush on since she was a kid. Every wonder what happened to the BMOC (Big Man On Campus) after high school? Both his family and the community saddle Rob with the reputation as the dumb jock. Is he doomed to relive the Glory Days for the rest of his life with no expectations to break out of that stereotype? People didn’t expect much for him and Rob lives up to that reputation. Lauren shares that struggle – both are hiding behind a façade. She learned in her teens that she could hide her true self by pretending to be a extrovert – the Party Lauren. The difference between the two is the Lauren sees herself as a work in progress; Rob hasn’t begun his self-actualization yet. They get each other. One of the best lines in the book says this best: “Lauren, you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t make me feel like half a ham sandwich.” What was missing for me: I feel like the emotional punch comes too late in the story. This made the pace of the book really slow for the first half of the book. There is very little drama to sustain the first half of the book. Even where there is a point when Rob has to make a decision regarding his girlfriend – a potential trigger for conflict – it falls flat. IN A NUTSHELL: A nice contemporary New Adult romance, it has the emotional power to make it a nice to read, but not necessarily a MUST read.
After reading I WANT IT THAT WAY, I was completely intrigued by Lauren and what her story was about, and really liked Rob's cameo appearances and often wondered what was going on with him. I am so thrilled that they are the main characters for book two, AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME. I really enjoyed this book far more than the first one. The characters are so likable and relatable, fun and endearing. The storyline is exceptionally realistic and entertaining... Lauren has dropped out of school and moved back home ignoring all of the small-town rumors, she holds her head up high and is confident that she has made the right decision. She will pursue her degree via online and deal with her social insecurities at her own discretion. While she puts her education together and starts to concentrate on her well-being, it wouldn't hurt to help Rob out with getting his dream business going... especially since it will give her a front row seat to continue to crush over him. He has always been off limits to her, so she has had plenty of practice in keeping her hands off and drooling over him from afar... Rob is trying to build a career for himself but is not knowledgeable with how to market himself. Working in construction gives him a lot of flexible time to rebuild the home he has just purchased and design/create furniture, that he hopes to make a living from doing some day. However, Rob lacks determination in making that dream come true. His whole life, everyone around him, has labeled him as the 'pretty boy' who is good with working with his hands that he isn't the brightest one to accomplish things. His lack of confidence keeps him from striving... Also, his current relationship is consuming and frustrating. And lacks the spark that he longs to have but doesn't think he deserves. Once Lauren and Rob reconnect and things start moving along, I couldn't help myself but cheer them along and hope for the best. Like always, lack of communication and assumptions get in the way. But their kindred spirits keep bringing them back together. They compliment and balance each other. They also understand and encourage each like no one else ever had. They are sweet and goofy. I adore them to pieces. Rob's lack of confidence was something that was mentioned over and over again. He continually dwelled on the fact that no one ever takes him seriously and that he's just another pretty face with no brains. Since he was a child, his sisters academics overshadowed any of his small accomplishments. He places no blame on his sister, which was refreshing, since it is the parents fault and not hers. All of this is understandable - something that has been said to you your entire life, you're going to believe it. However, when you have someone like Lauren come into your life and she gives you an outsiders point of you, it's time to step up to the plate and make something out of yourself rather than back off and continue to hide behind the obvious. I guess I expected him to put himself out there more. It is truly rare to find such a humble male character that can be so withdrawn. But once Lauren gets him to open up, he is charismatic and brilliant, loyal and supportive. He is clearly very unique in more ways than you can imagine and I ended up adoring him way too much. Ann Aguirre really captured me with both of the main character's growth and blossoming relationship. These two complimented each other so perfectly and it was really amusing watching these two transform their crush turn into friendship turn into crushes again and then fall in love. Nothing is rushed and everyone meets in the middle on their own terms - perfection. *I received an eARC from the publisher for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
I was so excited when I saw this had Finally been added to my library (I had preordered as soon as I finished the first book in the series). Ann nails this story! Great story, you can really relate to the characters. They are not billionaires, they are real. I preordered the 3rd book in this series when i did this, i cannot nwait for Max and Courtney's story! Would love to see where Avery ends up as well
Read on September 30, 2014 Book Info Paperback, 352 pages Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Harlequin HQN ISBN 0373779844 (ISBN13: 9780373779840) series 2B Trilogy #2 other editions (1) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS 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. My Thoughts It was kind of hard for me to really like Lauren Barrett in the first book I Want It That Way but now having learned what motivated her poor decision making and the real reasons why she blew off college and returned to her hometown of Sharon Nebraska she is a little easier to relate to as well as understand. Rob Conrad, being the older brother of her best friend Nadia, did not have much of a role to play in the first book. He was however introduced as being the sibling who was undervalued in his parents eyes and that theme continues in this story as well. As many problems as Lauren has she also has good insight into people so it is no real surprise when she is the first person to have seen past the outer package into the inner being of Rob, something he has a hard time believing after having been put down by so many people for so many years of his life for being just a “pretty face/hot body” rather than being smart or talented in comparison to his younger sister. Rob also sees inside the true heart of Lauren, despite the issues that drove her to flunk out of college she has a good head on her shoulders and people smarts that are far beyond her age. These two have known each other for so many years but never really connected one on one, it was delightful to see them becoming friends in their own right as well as finally finding out that the crush Lauren had on Rob was returned! This felt like a much more believable romance than that of Nadia and Ty but that is not to say Lauren and Rob are a better couple just easier to relate to for me. The anxiety and poor self esteem issues addressed on behalf of Lauren and Rob just reinforced that no matter the outer package ones inner self can be damaged but appear fine. I loved this as much as book one I Want It That Way and look forward to Max's story next. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre Book Two of the 2B trilogy Publisher: Harlequin HQN Publication Date: September 30, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley ***Warning: this book contains mature subject matter, and is for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: It's possible that I liked this one more than I liked the first book. I really liked the first book! But this one - this one seemed more like "my style". Not quite, but closer than the first one. Rob is not what I expected, to be honest. I'm not sure what I expected, but certainly not this sweet, kind man. This book starts when Lauren moves out of Mount Albion, which isn't at the end of book one. It's somewhere in the second half. Honestly, I forgot about this, so when Lauren was talking about Nadia breaking up with Ty in the very beginning of this book, I was like whaaaaa?!!? But then I realized that this occurred in the second half of book one. Makes sense. Anyway. So. Lauren is back home. Her mom is dating some guy named Stuart (totally okay with Lauren), Rob is still dating Avery (hopeless feelings), and Lauren is struggling to find a job, so she can buy a car, pay for her online classes... Lauren meets Rob in the grocery store. They start hanging out, fixing a house that he bought to flip. Rob breaks up with Avery (you'll have to read to see why) - but Lauren would never announce her feelings to Rob. Unless Rob noticed her? Like I said before, I wasn't sure what to expect from Rob. I didn't like that he was with Avery in book one - but I understand him now. Rob is such a sweetheart. He's four years older than Nadia and Lauren, and he's got confidence issues. No one thinks he's good enough, smart enough, but he's hot enough. He's good-looking enough for anything. They don't see his talent with making furniture and remodeling houses and construction projects. Rob is super hot, super physical, super sweet, and super honest. He's every girl's dream, without seeming cliche. I like Lauren. She has her quirks (crowds, drinking to cope, etc.), but she's highly organized, detailed-oriented, tech-savvy. She's a genius - but since she failed out of college (on purpose though) and came home, everyone thinks she's knocked up or stupid (or both). But she works hard to get a job, take classes, etc. Lauren is a good person, and she's been completely in love with Rob since they were teens. Good thing he's been in love with her for quite some time - not as long as she had been. but long enough. One of the things that I like more about this book than the last book is how fast the romance/relationship gets started. Lauren and Rob already know each other, but sparks start to fly from when they meet in the grocery when Lauren first comes home. Something specific happens, and Rob breaks up with Avery. Then it's all Lauren and Rob. It's not insta-love by any means, but I like that the buildup for them to state their feelings and get together didn't take long. But then, the intimacy... that took a while. I approve though - it was fun to watch the two of them get sexually frustrated! I love the romance. The relationship is built beautifully - you can see the trust and love crafted into the romance. It's not just physical with these two, it's not just about them being friends since they were young... all of that is great, but they also love each other, and I like how this is developed. The conflict/climax is well-crafted as well! It's not drama-filled and angst-ridden and cliche. Okay, there is heartbreak and angst, but the time apart is very much needed and well-spent. Distance definitely made the hearts grow fonder, in this case. I like the diversity of situations in which Aguirre places her characters. It's not just college females who got abused or raped or hurt somehow. It's not just college males who beat people up in the past or drink a lot. There are twenty-somethings, for one, with little children. There are twenty-somethings with real jobs and real lives. There are twenty-somethings with controlling, ignorant, cold parents. There are twenty-somethings with a single parent who is dating. Not every college student's life (or New Adult's life) is cookie-cutter perfect with a side of brokenness or hurt or rape or whatever. I like that! Basically, I enjoyed this book! I love that Aguirre can create imperfect characters without them being broken, beautiful romances without unnecessary drama, and really great New Adult contemporary romance novels without me vomiting in disgust! That's actually a high compliment. Heh. What I Did Not Like: I can't think of anything at the moment - but this one is getting a solid four stars! Would I Recommend It: Yes! I love Aguirre's books, but I'm really enjoying her New Adult books. Coming from the New Adult who hates New Adult books, this is a big deal. So. Read book one, at the very least! But I also really liked book two, possibly more than book one. Rating: 4 stars. So far so good! I'm not Courtney's biggest fan (thinking of book three), and I'm not sure about how I feel about her ending up with Max... but I like Max a lot!