Lessons of the Heart (Jodie Larson)


The first time we met, James Dumont knocked me off my feet.

He’s sexy and smart, the classic good guy…. Exactly what I want, and everything I’ve ever dreamed of. The most perfect guy at Somerset High School.

He even makes sixth-period Geography interesting.

Everyone says high school is tough. Fighting my attraction to James? That’s the hardest part, because this guy, my perfect match, the one who makes my heart overrule my head…

He’s my teacher.

What if the greatest lesson you could learn in school couldn’t be found in a book?

Once again I read this book with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too Much as a buddy read – though right now we both are wishing that we could unread some of the things we read, am I right?! So go to her blog to check out her review and thoughts of this book later today.

Well, you can assume by my rating and the comment above that I didn’t like this book. Not one freaking bit. I guess I’ll start by saying that I have absolutely no problem with forbidden romances, or with student/teachers romances… if they are well done! Unfortunately, this one wasn’t.

The writing was just a bit too much for me, I found it repetitive and striving too much to be sweet and romantic, while in reality it just didn’t work. At least for me. Also, it was beyond cheesy at times … =/

Then there were the characters. I think that if you’re dealing with a forbidden romance situation, you need to have likable characters. And in this case, both characters should be mature enough to not remind me at every turn of the page that I’m dealing with a teen girl and a full grown man. Again, let me clear, their age difference is NOT the issue. At all. They have 5 years of difference, which is nothing. However, I didn’t find Britta likable, at all. I think she was supposed to be a mature 18 y.o. girl, but that didn’t come across. Another thing that kind of bothered me was how she had it all: she was a great student, she was gorgeous, she was super popular, homecoming queen, all her teachers loved her, she had a great family, she was shy and liked to read… I mean… I don’t know… I also had a huge problem with James. He could almost be good, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was possessive and I got a huge stalkerish vibe from him.

To be 100% honest, there was only one character that I liked, and that was Britta’s older brother Liam. He was an awesome brother and great to the girl he was in love with, willing to give her the space and time she needed to be ready for him. Points to him!

I didn’t like the romance, it started way too much as instalove, and what really bothered me was that there was NO ATTEMPT from their part to stay away from each other or to have a professional relationship, even while he was her teacher. Though, they said they tried… they didn’t. Which led to each time they were alone on school grounds, lines would be crossed… EVERY DAMN TIME.

While I have to appreciate the low drama, I would also say that they deserved a lot more drama, because they were so careless throughout all of their relationship. Also, it kind of bothered me how understanding and nice the people who found out were, and I think that they ultimately had a super easy way out. Her friends at school were also judgmental and had huge double standards. I also didn’t like that we never get to see her parents reactions to her relationship, and that her parent’s story kind of gave them an out too.

So, now I’m gonna talk about a few points in the book that bothered me a lot. As in, “my phone will be flying somewhere if I don’t put it down right this instant” kind of bothered. So, heads up, the next section will have SPOILERS.

As I mentioned, this is a case of instalove. And while I do understand their connection, the execution was bad. Their first kiss really bothered me, mostly because given the situation I wanted the kiss to happen naturally and be even. Instead what happens is that James shows up at the restaurant Britta is in, follows her to the bathroom, and kisses her against the wall in the hall. I mean, I could be ok with it, if she wasn’t pinned against the wall. No matter how much she wanted it, it bothered me a lot that he initiated the kiss in the way he did.

The second thing that I thought was awful, was James following Britta to Boston, renting a room across from hers in the same hotel. True, he never pushes her, and they do not have sex, and he even mentions that he wants to do it right and take it slow. But fuck! He follows his 18 y.o. student to another city, without her knowing it, so that they can spend time together? His all behaviour grated me the very wrong way.

From that point on, they aren’t careful at all in school and outside it. They kiss in his office, with the door open, they touch all the time, he does little jealousy scenes, and so does she. They kiss on school hallways, and under the stairs. They kiss on parking lots, and go out on dates. I mean… guys… NO! I mean, at least not while at school! There was no need for it, because she could spend time at his house without much trouble.

Another thing that I didn’t understand Britta and her behaviour towards Chase. Chase is her friend, but on two separate occasions he tries to get her drunk and/or tries to touch her against her will. And yet, she forgives him. Obviously this leads him to find out about her relationship with James, and blackmail her, because obviously he would do that, and she goes along with it. But then, to get out of the blackmail, she decides to get something on him, and what she does is cruel and I can’t wrap my head around it. She sets him up with a female teacher – who thinks she’s meeting a 20 yo guy, and not her 18 yo student – and they’re caught having sex…the teacher thought she was having it with said 20 yo, and he thought she was Britta. I don’t actually feel sorry for the guy, but that teacher? I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN THAT?! I don’t get it! I really don’t.

Another moment that made me flip was a certain sexy moment between Britta and James. One thing has to be said: the sex was mostly hot and those scenes were kind of nice. And then, there’s a moment, where they are talking in bed, and James starts to move within without a condom. I have no problem with sex without protection when it’s discussed by both parties, or when the situation is not planned, but they TALK about it. What I’m not ok with, is James doing it without consulting her first, when it was clearly planned – even if the planning happened 2 minutes before. That was not ok. Because dude, tell her you “want to feel all of her” BEFORE you are actually inside… she would have said yes – even though there’s no indication that she was on birthcontrol!!!

Another thing that really didn’t work for me was how fast things moved. The “I love you”‘s came rather quickly, and the “you’re my soulmate”, “we’re forever” and that stuff. I also wasn’t a fan of the fact that she wanted to move in with him right after highschool, and that she was even willing at some point to put her ambitions on hold. I was glad that at least he said no to that, and that he wanted her to have her freshman experiences. They do end up living together and getting engaged. And sure, when you know, you know, but I don’t know…

Well, I’m wrapping this up now. Read Cátia’s review, because she’s sure to make out some more points on this book. I really wish I had liked it, because forbidden romances can be so good, but honestly none of this worked for me, and it isn’t a book I can recommend at all… =(