Monday, 20 March 2017

CAN'T BUY FOREVER - by Susan Laffoon

Can't Buy Forever - Susan Laffoon
Year Published: 2015 - by Page Publishing Inc.
Pages: 218.
Genres: Young adult / romance / historical fiction /
Source: Thank you to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

In the early 1950s, Odessa Drake (Dessa) is rescued from a bleak existence with a single mother. She takes a chance on the unknown to work in a boarding house owned by a widowed great aunt in Mineville, New York. Dessa is devoted to Aunt Flo and especially a young man, Nicholas, who appears and takes shelter in the attic, the only available space. Four years pass. She looks forward to each day because of his presence, in spite of the tedious work. Dessa is now eighteen and knows little more of Nicholas than the day he arrived to work the mines. She knows only he is a remarkable man who has a limp and she trusts Nicholas explicitly. There is a familiarity both recognize and an unshakeable bond develops. Nicholas has reasons to keep his past buried. Dangers loom and become evident when Nicholas gets too close and exposes their bond. What is the mystery behind this threat? To discover the answer, they escape by railway heading West, colliding with treachery and uncovering secrets, mile by mile. Their journey is impossible, but, they are supported by friends who risk their lives to make sure a great love and lineage is preserved. Or is it? None will forget their odyssey as they proceed to their destiny farther than they imagined.

I love thrillers. And seeing as this particular thriller is blended with historical romance, I thought it sounded amazing.
Unfortunately, I just couldn't love this book. Or even go as far as to say I liked it...

The grammar was horrendous. I have never before seen such typos and grammatical errors. From the blurb on the back, to the author info, to the story itself, the sentences and spelling were a mess. The sentences were choppy, in passive voice, and the words were frequently in the wrong order. In addition, the tenses were constantly changing; leaping from present to past and then back again.
It was a mess.
The overuse of exclamation marks might have been bearable if they didn't constantly kill the drama and force me to roll my eyes at the story incidents.  As it was, they were ill-used and misplaced.

The story was so confusing. It started without proper set-up, without background or setting to let me get my bearings, and the scenes were jumbled and sloppy. The writing did nothing to evoke my senses, and the landscape/setting (which had great historical potential) was flat and one-dimensional. The description of physical setting in all of the scenes was also incredibly sparse.  
I was confused and lost, and the story never once redeemed itself. The writing was also cheesy, and the scenes jumped all over the place with no sense of logic or structure.  

I felt like the story began in the wrong place. The plot was threadbare, and the way the story began left no room for character development or plausible plot twists - at least the kind that was realistic. As it was, the story began with Dessa already having known Nicholas for years and didn't show her relationship background with any of the other characters. I also found it hard to believe that only now was she questioning his past and only now were they being threatened by external forces.   
It became obvious about halfway through the book that there was some magical, paranormal element at play; specifically to do with Nicholas. However, it was never fully explained, and felt unrealistic considering the historical "setting" and the events preceding the paranormal revelation. I wasn't allowed time to absorb the shock of there being some magic at play, because it was glossed over and poorly revealed. It was just badly done, and came across like the author had only thought of it halfway through writing the novel.

The ending of the book was also bizarre. Just bizarre.

The characters were flat and cliched. Dessa was your Bella Swan with even less personality and in need of even more saving, and Nicholas definitely fit the sexist, brooding, and in this story Mormon-version of Edward Cullen.   The romance was incredibly Twilighty, and in fear of giving spoilers, I'll just say that the age of the characters had something to do with it...
And the sexism. If you know me, then you'll know that sexist romances or sexist dialogue literally makes my blood boil. I actually exclaimed out loud more than once while reading through sections of this book - in shock.
Here are some of the things that passed between Nicholas and Dessa, which will illustrate my point:
- Nicholas insists on choosing Dessa's prom date for her and "interviews" each guy.
- Nicholas is constantly carrying Dessa around like she's a puppy and she's constantly in need of rescuing.
- More than once, Nicholas says to her:

"Now Dessa, don't make me hurt you," as if it's a threat WHICH IT IS.

- Now for the most horrifying part of the book: Nicholas marries Dessa while she's unconscious. No lie: she faints, and deduced from their conversation after she's woken up, it comes across like Nicholas purposefully wanted it that way.
Here's a paragraph from Dessa's friend's point of view (I've cut parts to shorten it, but kept it all in context).  

Nicholas married you".........."I didn't know what was going on until you passed out in Nicholas's arms.....Nicholas had to coax you to say the words on your own........."..........." Nicholas said he needed to marry you, so he could feel your thoughts closer and clearer while he's apart from you. {Part of the paranormal element, by the way} Being his wife makes it that much easier. He could protect you."......... "I knew you would have married Nicholas even if you had known. He was jubilant, hoping you'd feel the same when you discovered you were Mrs. Nicholas Westley."  

I'm sorry, but call me an independent female if I disagree with this incident. Personally, I'd like to have a say whether I marry a guy or not, and I would greatly appreciate it if he actually waited till I was fully conscious before getting me to say "I do." And I'd like to believe that most women would expect that, too.  

But the book wasn't all bad. It was a very unique story idea, and had a very sweet, heartfelt undertone. Relationships played a big role in the story, and I could tell the author cared about each of her characters.

I'm sorry to say it, but I thought Can't Buy Forever was badly written with flat characters, a sexist romance, sparse description, horrendous typos and cheesy writing. It had great potential, but I was disappointed. 


  1. Yikes! I can see some potential from the blurb, but it almost sounds like the blurb wasn't a good representation of what the book was about. One of my biggest pet peeves is mistakes, and this sounds like it had too many! Was this maybe a poor translation?

    1. Yeah you're right, I don't think the blurb was a good representation :(
      I also wondered about it being a poor translation. But the author is American, so it shouldn't have been a problem.
      Thanks for stopping by, Angela!

  2. Good review! I know now that I won't be reading this book...

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I wouldn't recommend it :(

  3. Ooh, a Twilighty romance... I think I'll pass on this.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah
    ups & downs

    1. Yup, that was a bummer :(
      Have a lovely rest of the week, Abigail!

  4. Oh, gosh this is disappointing. I was looking forward to this one too, it's still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read and reviewed. Hmm, a little less inclined to pick it up now. Better luck next time!

    1. Oh no I'm sorry! I hope you manage to find something good in it, though!

  5. Yikes, what a disappointing read. Such a shame too because the blurb does sound quite good. Great review though!

    1. I know! And it did sound so good :(


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