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Earning It

Book Review by Sharon Sharpe

by E.F. Dodd

Earning It by E.F. Dodd is just one of those romance novels you will either come to love or hate, not really much in between. The story opens with Rae (Regan Murphy) attending her best friend’s wedding. However, the main character immediately comes off as a cynic which I want to believe is the typical setup for a romance novel—MC is a cynic on love who all of a sudden start believing in it when she’s swept off of her feet. Cliché in my opinion.

This makes the MC almost immediately unlikeable. She’s the hard-working boss woman with a great career making a decent income and yet, she seems so, unhappy. I don’t think the author intended to make Rae unrelatable to a general audience, it was inadvertently done.

The snide comments piled on to the point where I couldn’t decide whether or not she was truly happy for her best friend getting married, or if she was tolerating the festivities because she’s the maid of honor. But, it might be the latter, “I know hearts, flowers, and lovey-dovey stuff aren’t really for you,” said Kez (Rae’s best friend who is getting married). To which Rae then responds, “It’s a sacrifice I wouldn’t make for just anyone.”

I think that was supposed to be a moment for the readers to feel delighted with her response, but it had quite the opposite effect. Almost like the thought of happiness and love should be repelled. Then our MC runs into an old flame who happens to be the best man to the groom. He is now the one looking to “earn it”—love from Rae.

Earning It is written in third person narrative, which allows the narrator to be more objective. E.F. Dodd does a fantastic job with her descriptive writing and expositions. I think incorporating the use of certain dialogue to help us learn the careers, moods and facial expressions of another character is spot on. We are taken on a journey in Earning It, we see the development of Rae’s character and the conflict build-up. However, we spent a great amount of time in the first act—the wedding. Which despite her efforts, made the story drag at some key moments.

As a second chance romance novel, the idea that much of the story takes place in one setting, on one day, and in one location can seem off-putting. If the premise is that love should be earned, especially from a cynic, do we not need more time? More effort, perhaps.

The author then takes us to the honeymoon in the Caymans, where it’s now a week-long trip to cover about 50% of the novel. Again, I believe this may be overdone. We’re given a love story that spans over 8 days give or take and as the readers, are we to suspend our belief into thinking such a feat is possible? Weddings are meant to be a joyous occasion to celebrate love and togetherness—and they usually are.

According to Dr. Bockarova, “In hunter-gatherer societies, we as humans were evolved to fit in with a group, and not fitting in could have meant being left behind and dying,” she goes on to say, “Feeling left out at a wedding because you’re single might not be that serious, but we still get that sense of anxiety about not being included.” This already places our MC in a position of vulnerability.

So, the likelihood that she will kickstart a new romance at a wedding or even look about rekindling an old flame—no matter how bad it was for her mental health, is highly likely. But will the pair last or is this just some way to fill the void of loneliness? Did our MC truly get her happily ever after, or did she simply band-aid her wounds to fit in and be less of a pessimist? “Our brain finds it very difficult to understand that not being included means we’re still going to be okay,” she says. “We have a very visceral response to rejection or perceived rejection which often happens at weddings.”

With this knowledge, I questioned the authenticity of Rae and Van’s second chance romance simply due to the setting of the novel and how quickly our characters restored their love for one another. Rae ran out on Donovan 5 years prior and he never really had a chance to redeem himself, spending that time mourning the loss of their relationship.

Naturally, seeing each other, the two are shocked. We take the shock value, the steamy parts of this book, and the setting, of course, the pair are going to find themselves in each other’s arms again, but is it true love? How can I not feel indifferent to their romance?

Overall, I think this book is a great summer read. I believe, though, that the author should consider introducing a prequel to this novel to give readers the backstory between Van and Rae. A true backstory where we meet the characters before they meet one another. This will give readers time to become far more invested in their story and the rekindling of their romance.

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Sharon Sharpe-Gambu is an Editorial Assistant, book reviewer and professor living in The Bronx, New York. Follow for more of Sharon's Reviews


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