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Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2019
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely adore this author. I love most of her books (mainly SOS/AHS) and completely love the depth of the emotion she conveys. It deeply pains me to give a bad review, but after sitting on this book for the last few days, I just can't hold it in anymore.
I really, really didn't like or connect with our main characters. Mal was a superficial, overbearing, condescending, rude, and is just so not what I pictured he would be like. I got swept away in the first few chapters, and in the start of the flashback scenes because this author can turn a prose like no other, but it soon fell flat for me.
Rory is someone I loved at the beginning, too: feisty American girl who travels abroad in search for the truth about her father, only to end up with more questions than answers. When she meets Mal, she instantly is drawn to him, and even though she fights it, they spend a night together that will forever be etched info their souls. So much so, that they make a pact to marry each other despite their future romantic situations if they ever see each other again. Without intervening. I really loved that aspect, truly. Future Rory is where I has my issues: she's way to forgiving. And I don't want to make that a bad thing, because forgiveness is a great quality to have, but it got to the point where she was a doormat. She tried go change herself for her boyfriend Callum (who is the absolute worst, and I saw that philandering twist of his a mile away.) And them she bends over backwards to please Mal, who emotionally manipulates her at every turn.
Future Mal is nothing like the sweet boy she left behind. He's cold, ruthless, guarded, and wants to destroy her the way she destroyed him. (Which spoiler alert, she did not do.) He conducts this elaborate scheme with her boss to have her go with him to his home country in Ireland, have her document Mals writing process (she's a photographer) and take another big named star with them as well. Rory ends up bringing Callum with her for the first night, and all but forgets about him before he even leaves. (Which was a bit humorous, because like I said, the dude was the worst.) After Rory unknowingly drops a bomb that makes Mal realize that she DIDN'T break his heart and that his malice behavior is unwarranted (surprise, surprise) he begins to think that all is ok, because he will tell her the truth about his marriage, and about her father (Because he knows so, so much more than he told her eight years prior) and everything else he has ever lied to her about, because he realizes that he's always been in love with her. He just has to get her to love him again too. *sigh.*
Ok, so major spoilers ahead, so if you don't like them, avoid the rest of this review.
So Mal openly admits to Rory that he married her half sister, Kathleen, (which we also got to meet) and she is the worst human being. I don't think I've ever hated a character as much as her. Anyways, Kathleen has always been obsessed with Mal -- think Fatal Attraction times 1000. She believes that one day it will be her that Mal will love, so she tries everything she can to get him to see her in a different light when Rory goes back to America. When Mal is mourning his 'broken' heart, Kathleen proceeds to get him drunk out of his mind, rapes him, and then gets herself pregnant. The KICKER out of this, is that Mal KNOWS what she did, but then continues to have sex with her after he finds out about the baby. BUT WAIT: he never sees her face, and he calls her Rory every single time. Yes, you read that right.
So not only did he know she raped him, continued to sleep with her after the fact, but he calls her her half sister whenever they are intimate. I just can't.
And wait for it:::
Years into the future, after Mal and Rory work out their crap and are married and so in love, they have twins and NAMES THE GIRL AFTER THE RAPIST. WHY, WHY WHY?!?! Also, one of the many POVS was dead Kathleen, and the author tried to redeem her character. No, no, NO.
I tried guys. I really did. There were parts of the story I liked, but after what Kathleen did to Mal, and all that happened after that.. I just couldn't. I applaud this author for going out of her comfort zone and trying something completely different, I truly do. I'm obviously one of the minority readers who had issues with this book, and I'm glad that others are loving it. I just couldn't. I will continue to be a fan of this author, and will read her other books, (especially Angry God) but this was just not the book I expected it to be.
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2019
I am absolutely gobsmacked writing this review right now. I stayed up into the wee bit hours reading In The Unlikely Event from start to finish. I figured I would sit on my feelings for some time to see if my feelings changed, and they have not. I have never read a book by LJ Shen that I have not loved, until this one. Yes, her writing is magical, it has ALWAYS been magical, and yes there was very few awesome one liners such as, " Do I look like a steak? Then stop grilling me.'' " Who died and made you Joanna Gaines?" that made me question myself on my overall reactions of this one, but for me personally, there was far too much that I did not like. For starters there was so much deception, lies, and craziness that I could not keep up. I was not a fan of the Hero nor the heroine. I felt like they were petty and childish, and in the end they held no redeeming qualities. There was so many plots going on, so many uninquisitive people talking, that I literally wanted to throw my kindle across the room.The Unlikely Event should have came with a trigger warning for more than one thing. There were some very serious situations that I felt were just swept under the rug, and that made me so angry, and so very hostile. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs because no matter what, wrong is wrong, and these characters should have got what was coming to them, but they didn't. In all honesty I have never been so happy to be finished with a book. I mean yes, I could have just stopped reading, but I am not a quitter, and I know things can change within one page because I have seen it happen, but In The Unlikely Event was not one of them. I am praying LJ Shen changes up and goes back to her original roots.
1.0 out of 5 starsThis is the most ridicolous book I've read in a long time!
Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2019
SPOILER! I expected a funny, Christmas -theme book about second chances, but NO! This was certainly not it.
How can a heroine and hero fall in love with each other (and yes, they call it LOVE) after knowing each other for 24 hours, mostly spend at having sex and bot having actual conversarion.
On top of that, when they meet again the heroine acts like she know stuff about the hero and they are great friends! Serioulsy?! What is more she is dissapointed that he, HEAR THIS, changed!!! Really? You f.cked a guy 8 years ago and you think you know him to the bone cause he is your one true love.
I don't even wanna start about the other parts of the story, I've wasted enough time reading this book. Please, save your money! Totally not worth IT!
5.0 out of 5 starsAn absolute must read standalone from LJ Shen! All the stars!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2019
There is no level of praise high enough for this story. In The Unlikely Event is thought-provoking, funny, sad, intriguing and - as you would expect from a LJ Shen novel - riddled with angst!
As an emotive reader, I was put through all kinds of emotions while reading In The Unlikely Event.
I swooned at Malachy’s early antics. A true lad about town, his outlook on love and life and how free he was with himself endeared me to him instantly. Rory stood NO chance against his wiles. I stood no chance. I loved him immediately.
So much had changed for both of them in the 8 years they were apart. But underneath it all, nothing had changed. They were still troubled. Life apart had put layers of ill-feelings towards each other above their integral feelings for one another which were marred through lies, deceit, and malice. They were jaded with one another and rightfully so.
As always, though, the truth will out.
Discovering long buried secrets and uncovering the lies told over the years was told in such a unique and quirky way. Ms Shen made me feel for all of the characters. Not just Mal and Rory, but the side characters too. She may write about flawed people but her writing is flawless. I was sucked in and devoured this story as quickly as I could.
You won’t regret picking up this complete standalone. In fact, I may go as far as saying it’ll be the BEST. DAY. EVER.
2.0 out of 5 starsNOT MY FAVOURITE BOOK BY THIS AUTHOR
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2019
I have loved all of the previous books I have read by this author but sadly this book didn't do it for me. I know the author was going for a change but for me it just didn't work. The story is about an American called Aurora and how she meets Mal on a visit to Ireland where she goes to visit the grave of her father who she had never met but I just found the story a bit far fetched and hated it when at the end of most chapters there was a note from........ I also wasn't so keen on the story being set in Ireland as I'm used to this author's books being set in America. I just felt like I was reading a book by a totally different author. I hope she goes back to her normal gritty books in the future.
5.0 out of 5 starsL J Shen has done it again.....5 stars!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2019
I must admit I was apprehensive about reading this book as I knew it was going to be something different from the usual books we get from L J. I have loved every book so far by this author so i had high expectations....and i wasnt disappointed at all! Why did i worry? L J is one of those authors that seems to write hit after hit and leaves you wanting more and more! This has to be one of the best love stories ive read this year. How fate and destiny can bring two people together, heart and soul. It had everything, angst, love, betrayal and even laugh out loud moments....this is a story that makes you think about life and love....i don't think I'll be forgetting this one for a while!!! Highly recommend Rory and Mals love story....you won't be disappointed.
5.0 out of 5 starsBeautifully written, an absolute masterpiece from one of my favourite authors !!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 12, 2019
L.J Shen writes the most amazing books with some gorgeous troubled leading men, and women of course; this book for me was a different L.J Shen but none the less absolutely perfect. I mean where do I even start to review this book, it was everything and more and it stole my heart.
Rory has travelled all the way from the US to Ireland to find out more about the father she never knew. Meeting Malachy wasn't exactly on her agenda but as fate would have it that day in Ireland she was drawn to Malachy like a magnet, his Irish charm and his carefree ways made him an instant hit and Rory couldn't resist him. Come to think of it neither could I, I fell head first for this unusual charmer and all the troubles that was on his shoulders. He was so gorgeous, a musician, with that particular Irish charm that could make a nun drop her panties without a hail Mary in sight. What a man. Distance and life meant they couldn't be together but eight years later they meet again and this is their story, and what a ride L.J Shen will take you on.
This book has everything in the way of all the feels. It is sad and tragic, but happy and joyous and of course it has plenty of angst that L.J Shen writes so wonderfully. Her characters were life like and so real with lots of banter going on with very good descriptive writing of the Irish characters in this book and the country itself, I honestly felt I was in the book with them all it was so good. The way this book has been written it flicks back and forth between time and the POV's we got from the different people and even the napkin and of course that famous chocolate bar was a touch of absolute genius and bought many a smile to my face. There are secrets galore in this story all waiting to jump out on you like some ancient ghost from the past and if you take the chance you will truly love it.
This book and the couple in it has literally stole my heart and touched my soul, I didn't want to let them go, Rory and Malachy will forever be in my heart because this is one piece of outstanding writing and imagination from this awesome author who never fails to amaze me with every book of hers that I read. Long may she continue.
4.0 out of 5 starsContemporary romance with heart-wrenching twists and laugh-out-loud moments!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2019
“Sometimes you meet people who are out of this world, so you make them a part of yours."
I was saving In The Unlikely Event for closer to Christmas, but it didn't really have that much of a Christmassy vibe like I was thinking, but I am glad I had the chance to finally be able to sit and read it in one go.
ITUE is so unlike any of the other LJ Shen book's she has written, and she fully admitted that before releasing. It's hard to write a review for this kind of book without giving anything major away, because that's what you need to do, go into this book completely blind.
Mal (from Tolka, Ireland) and Rory (from NJ, USA) met eight years ago, and after a whirlwind 24 hours, signed a contract, on a pub napkin, vowing that if fate ever makes them meet again, they will drop everything in their lives and try and make it work.
Eight years later, they meet again and are thrown back into each other's lives, but is this fate or kismet or are there other secrets which have drawn them back together?
I did enjoy ITUE, having read so many good reviews I didn't really know what to expect because it had a lot of hype around it! I love LJ's writing, because all the twists were unexpected and I genuinely didn't see any of them coming. There are a couple of things which made me pretty uncomfortable when reading (if you've read it then you probably know what I'm talking about) but other than that I loved their story!
I usually dislike story-lines of insta-love and miscommunication but I think LJ wrote it in a way that wasn't annoying and didn't make me frustrated with the characters, and because it took work for them to get to their HEA, it didn't feel like that kind of book. Mal and Rory were meant to be, it just took them a little while and a lot of heartbreak to get there.