2 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided an Uncorrected Proof of Laid Out by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Violet Channing doesn’t know what life is like without her two best friends, Jeremy and Cain, until the boys are deployed when she’s sixteen. She’s left behind with mounting confusion thanks to her father’s issues with her weight, an explosive first kiss from Cain, and then being shunned by Cain and asked out by Jeremy. Twelve years later, Violet is trying to learn how to date again after her fiancé, Jeremy, is killed in action.
When Cain Sorenson comes back into Violet’s life, things get more confusing than ever. He’s ex-military but still works dangerous missions, and he’s involved in both MMA and underground fights. Cain has always been in love with Violet, but his guilt over Jeremy’s death won’t allow him to be anything more than her friend. Now Violet needs someone to teach her how to date, and Cain is the man for the job. They spend a few steamy days together, but when it’s over, each of them has to decide whether they should admit their true feelings or not.
Laid Out is a contemporary romance that just didn’t win me over. Part of the issue is that the copy I received was completely unedited, causing confusion throughout. There were incorrect wording choices that changed the meaning of a sentence. One character’s name was changed in parts of the story. Sometimes points of view were mixed together. I contacted the publisher to request a cleaner copy once it was available, but I was told the uncorrected proof was all that would be available. The issues were not limited to grammatical errors. They also extended into parts of the plot.
The other part of the issue is that the whole thing was a bit too cliché and sometimes unbelievable. Cain and Violet watched porn together, which led to them getting all hot and bothered. He continually pushed her away because of guilt, yet he was willing to sleep with her to teach her how to date. Cain was also extremely jealous of seeing Violet with another man.
Violet, Jeremy, and Cain had been best friends all their lives, yet they grew up in military families. It was entirely unrealistic for all three families to be stationed at the same bases all the time, allowing them to maintain such closeness. It also didn’t really fit that there would be a three-year age gap between Violet and the boys. If Violet and Cain were such good friends, I didn’t understand how she would have let him give her the silent treatment for so long once they were reunited. I also didn’t quite buy the fact that Violet happened to end up living in the same town as Cain along with her two new best friends.
Violet also was not a strong character. She constantly said she was okay with her weight, but then she’d put herself down because of her body image. The back and forth made her characterization weak.
Perhaps in the final version, some of these issues were ironed out, but there wasn’t enough believability for me to think the entire plot could be fixed prior to publication. I wanted to like this book because the summary and cover drew me in (although I later found that the cover image didn’t totally match the main character’s description). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find enough I enjoyed to rate this positively even with the understanding that errors would be cleaned up.