The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent
New Adult and College Romance
July 17, 2017
Review by Jen
This book was recommended to me by my book club. It’s a few years old, but sounded intriguing! My very quick, first thought on Goodreads was, “Excellent and awkward. Loved it, review to come…” I stand by that early assessment.
Eeeekkk…what did I just read? Layla is a new student in college and sees a handsome, somewhat quirky, older guy on campus. Layla follows him to a classroom where she finds out (in a rather embarrassing gotcha sort of way) that the guy is a professor. Not her professor, but she stays in his class anyway.
The professor is Thomas. He is a very talented, award-winning poet turned academic. Thomas is maybe 10+ years older than Layla. This romance is not easy for many, many reasons. And I am reminded again that the things I love to read are often the exact things I hope to avoid in my real life.
The title speaks to both Layla and Thomas’s situation. Layla is desperately in love with her stepbrother. They grew up together and were the best of friends. At a party, they had sex, with her pushing for it and plying him with alcohol. Her stepbrother left the very next day for a college far away. From that point on, Layla’s been in a spiral of booze and poor decisions.
Thomas is married. Along with the age gap, and teacher-student affair, there’s also a giant inferno of cheating. Thomas does love his wife. But she’s not in love with him. They have a baby together and it’s a messy situation all around.
So you would think all of the above would be the most awkward part of the story. For me, no, it wasn’t even close. The awkward part was how obsessive Layla was about Thomas. Straight up stalker behavior of an unstable person. She attended a class she wasn’t enrolled in. She followed him on campus. She even spied on him at his house. And, at one point, she GOES in his house when he’s not home.
Meanwhile, Thomas loves his wife so much and is incredibly angry and frustrated that she doesn’t give him that same love back. When he and Layla do get together…it’s at times ugly, harsh, with him relishing the control he has over Layla. There was so much emotion with very raw scenes of deep pain from both characters. When I finished, I was ok with the characters, how they resolved their situations and found their HEA with each other. It’s a romance after all, and that’s maybe why I could stick with it and love the story. I KNEW it would end a certain way and the things that made me uncomfortable were nearly non-issues by the last line of the book.
I haven’t read books by Saffron A. Kent before, but I have already picked up a couple more. It was such an odd feeling to be disgusted and also enthralled by Layla and Thomas. I found myself shutting down my eReader a few times to take a break. But, I was also up all night because I had to know more.
Generally speaking, romances featuring cheating/adultery rank right up there with death of a child in the “hard pass” category for me, but I have read and liked (sometimes even loved) books that include those elements—it always depends on the skill of the writer. I’m not sure the stalking makes the heroine sympathetic or identifiable, but your review makes me curious about this book—or other books by Kent.
The stalking was a tough one to swallow for me. It’s exactly as you say- not sympathetic to her because of that behavior. I really did enjoy the book though, and am now trying another one by the same author. I just started, My Darling Arrow.