About a third of the way into Wrecked, a phrase popped into my head that perfectly summed up my thoughts about what I’d read so far: Porn Without Plot. I sighed and hoped, desperately, that within the next chapter or two, the plot would finally make an appearance. When it did, it came in the form of two near relations to the dreaded Big Misunderstanding, reminding me I should be careful what I wish for.
Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes met when they were child actors starring together on the highly successful sitcom Kate + Nate. Almost from the first moment, Zach has been madly in love with Abby. Busy dealing with the antics of her highly dysfunctional mother, Abby viewed Zach as the bestest best friend a girl could have, but her romantic attentions were always directed elsewhere. Once Abby turned seventeen, she ditched Hollywood and made herself a normal life as a caterer. Zach became a tattoo artist and followed Abby to Tucson, opening up a shop nearby so he could continue to worship her from afar.
When Abby’s fame-seeking fiancé dumps her because she has no intention of ever re-establishing her career as a famous actor, Zach is there to pick up the pieces. He gives Abby one of those “Wreck This Journals” in which she, an obsessive planner, decides to instigate some changes in her life. She’s going to stop worrying about the future, she’s going to tell off Roger (her louse of an ex-fiancé), she’s going to get a tattoo, and she’s going to engage in a torrid affair.
Zach “accidentally” reads Abby’s journal and sees his chance to finally get Abby to fall in love him. Over the course of the next few days, he convinces her that she should have this affair with him, vowing that no matter what happens, their friendship will remain rock solid. Not that Abby needs a lot of arm-twisting. Ever since she got dumped, Abby’s been viewing Zach in a whole new way, and her only concern about taking their relationship physical is that it might endanger their friendship when the affair ends, which she assumes it eventually will.
This isn’t a bad book. It just isn’t a good book. Nothing happens. For the first quarter, Zack mentally lusts after Abby and she begins to mentally lust after him. For the middle half, the two have copious amounts of sex that, frankly, became boring. For the final quarter, Zach angsts over whether or not to tell Abby he’s been in love with her forever, Abby angsts over whether or not Zach has been in love with her forever and she never figured it out, and then the dreaded Bad Timing Coincidence occurs (cousin to the Big Mis). Abby witnesses something totally innocent on Zach’s part, but rather than stick around to find out what the heck is going on, she leaves –and then refuses to have the five-minute conversation with Zach that would clear up everything.
I do appreciate a friends-to-lovers story, but there is the danger that using the fear of ruining the friendship as the primary relationship obstacle can become a stretch. If two people have love for each other (Zach and Abby do), have a history together (Zach and Abby do), respect each other, enjoy each other’s company and find solace in the other person (Zach and Abby do), and have electric, dynamite sex (Zach and Abby do), I have a hard time accepting why they are so sure that eventually the romance will end and their friendship will be destroyed. What else do these two need to convince them that they are perfect for each other? Many successful marriages have a lot less going for them, and nobody gets a 100% guarantee that their relationship will last for all eternity.
More problematic for me is the fact that Zach’s long-time love for Abby is put out there as an obstacle for them to overcome. Zach is afraid Abby will freak out (and run) if she finds out how long he’s loved her, yet I never got why he believes this. Abby is kind of stupid, failing to notice something that every single other person in their world sees like neon flashing in the dark. They fall into the dreaded Lack Of Communication trap, another hated cousin of the Big Mis. More than once I wanted to shake them both, tell them to sit down and have a discussion already, and move on with it.
Zach and Abby are not unlikeable characters, but they aren’t likeable either. Beyond having a constant jones for the other person, there wasn’t much there. Both of them swear a lot. A lot. While I have no problems with profanity in the right context and coming from characters one would expect to curse frequently (Navy SEALs, teenage boys, people who’ve just smashed their thumb with a hammer), I found it a bit off-putting. Kind of like meeting a person for the first time only to have them use some pretty salty language before they even know you.
When the “porn without plot” descriptor came to me, it was because although technically not porn or even erotica – Zach and Abby are in a relationship, their encounters are monogamous and fairly mainstream, and, as they say, you know it when you read it – everything about the book seemed put there so that these two characters could have sex, either in the form of mental lusting or actual physical contact. That’s not what I expected at all when I read the back cover blurb, thus I felt a bit baited-and-switched.
While this book is a stand-alone, Zach has lots of brothers. I’m expecting sequels.
If you are looking for a mindless romp in the sack, Wrecked might be just the thing for you. If you need a little more meat to your story, as in a plot and substantial conflict as opposed to character-manufactured drama, then you may want to take a pass.