Although this book read more like a chick-lit, it uses a lot of ploys that I strongly dislike in romances: Big Misunderstandings, Things Left Unsaid, unsubstantiated profound love, plot-necessary unprotected sex, and a vying love interest. The misunderstandings were huge and lead two people whose one night fling felt like a meeting of soul mates to nonetheless part ways for the foreseeable future. And I don’t mean to sound like a cynic―I am a romance book addict, I swear―but the entire premise of their deep and endless love was a little hard for me to believe, since they spend less than 24 hours together and then don’t see one another for six years. The unprotected sex was extremely annoying because Lexi and Leo have just met, they’re in Vegas, it’s 2004―how does a conversation about condoms not take place, or a morning-after realization not even occur?! And the vying love interest is Lexi’s husband Andrew, so color me bothered.
When Lexi first goes to Vegas, she and Andrew have been separated for six months and are headed towards divorce. She wants children, but he doesn’t, so after much back-and-forth they decided to call it quits. In my mind, it therefore wasn’t a problem that she sleeps with Leo―as all “Friends” fans will recognize: They were on a break! Lexi and her husband end up back together after various ill turns of fate throw a wrench in Lexi and Leo’s HEA. Andrew says he wants her back and that he’s willing to try for kids. She knows when Ben is born that he’s Leo’s son and the fact that she never says anything rubbed me the wrong way. Both Andrew and Leo deserved better than that, even had Leo been the ass she thought him.
When Lexi and Leo see one another again in 2010, she’s still married to Andrew. As much as I cannot stomach reading anything where a character we’re supposed to like cheats on their partner, I was surprised by how involved I got in their romance and wanting to see how it all played out. It was clear that although Leo was willing to play the role of home wrecker if necessary, he wanted Lexi to cleanly and openly leave Andrew. Neither of them was happy in their marriage and Leo had no interest in pussy-footing around, which I could give him props for. He was quite a sweetheart and sometimes a little too perfect, though it was a nice change to have a hero who was willing to wear his heart on his sleeve.
I was even ready to praise the book for trying to tackle such a morally difficult issue … but then the author took the easy way out by portraying Andrew in a less than positive light when it became convenient. Lexi fell in love with Andrew, married him, still loved him during that first trip to Vegas, got back together with him, and stayed married for six more years even though her son wasn’t his and he’s never been close to Ben. None of that makes sense if Andrew is such an asshole. Aitken doesn’t even stop there, because not only do we get to bask in Andrew’s less than stellar behavior in Vegas, but we then discover an inexcusable thing he did that makes him worse than Lexi and Leo. In my opinion, it was such a copout, a blatant way to try and make us let Lexi off the hook.
Aside from plot and character issues, the writing and construction left something to be desired. There were several typos, grammar and punctuation errors, and places where the verb tenses made time transitions confusing. The most annoying thing, however, was the book’s voice. I’m not a big fan of first-person romances, and Nothing Stays in Vegas is not only in first-person, but switches between the hero and heroine’s first-person POVs. It was jarring and wasn’t consistently or smoothly done. For example, the first two chapters are Lexi, when all of a sudden it switches in chapter three to Leo (took me a couple paragraphs to realize), before then switching back to Lexi in that same chapter. I do prefer getting both the hero and heroine’s POV, but only when it’s done in third person.
When I finished the story, I was torn regarding how to grade it. I (obviously) had several problems with the book and after about a third of the way in I had been tempted to put it down and find something else to read. As I continued though, I did get pulled into the story and wanted to see how Aitken would settle everything. How would she finally bring Leo and Lexi together? What would happen with Andrew? What about Ben? In the end, while the potential was there for this to be a great story, I had several issues with it and they piled up on top of one another.
My Favorite Quote:
Was it possible to still have feelings for someone after six years? I needed to get a hold of myself.
But it was possible. I didn’t need someone to tell me, I could see it. It was in the way he held my gaze and wouldn’t let me look away. In the way he touched me, and stroked my skin with his thumb without even realizing it. It was in the sound of his voice, the way he said my name. But most frightening, it was in the way I felt when I looked at him.
Nothing Stays in Vegas by Elena Aitken
July 12th 2011 by Ink Blot Communications