RELEASE DAY REVIEW ~ NATURAL LOVE BY S. CELI

My whole life, I wanted one thing: to be the perfect son.
Growing up, I did everything my father required. Straight A’s in school. Perfect manners. I forced myself to live up to his standards–standards that pushed the Chadwick family name to the highest rungs of society.
Over the years, we climbed so high that my father hoped we’d never fall.
If only he’d been right. With each successful year, the Chadwick family skeletons grew bolder and darker. Every lie threatened to undo us.
The secret Avery Jackson and I shared was the worst one of all.
She was the one person I shouldn’t love–the one person I couldn’t love. But I did. I loved Avery Jackson. I wanted her, even though a romance with her threatened everything.
It all felt so natural.
And that was exactly the problem.

I know the rating doesn’t really show it, but I did enjoy this book up until the point I didn’t. The writing was solid and as a lover of taboo and forbidden romances, I was happy with a surprise reveal in the beginning that added yet another complex layer to the story. However, the excellent premise was overshadowed by some issues that gradually dominated the story and by the end of the book I was so disappointed when I read how everything was wrapped up. But taking the book as a whole, this was a decent read. Nothing that wowed me, but it did keep me flipping the pages.

Back home from 2 years in the Peace Corps, Spencer Chadwick is ready to take over his father’s multimillion-dollar business. Striving to always be the perfect son in front of his father and the rest of their social circle, Spencer is dedicated to showing everyone he’s changed from the reckless youngster a few years back. However, the only thing that has never changed is his love for Avery Jackson, the girl who grew up with him since they were kids and also the one girl he can never have.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is a taboo aspect but in an unconventional way. Spencer and Avery together technically doesn’t violate any rules or laws and there is absolutely zero cheating and no love triangle, but because of the stifling, perfectionist society they grew up in, a relationship between them is frowned upon and severe enough where it can mar their family names.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. The story was intense and individually, I really felt for these characters and the unfairness the situation placed them in. And because they were trying so hard to suppress their feelings, the atmosphere was almost always heavy and laced with sexual tension. But as to be expected, they give in to their attraction and that’s when the secrets started to pile up, the drama surfaced, and I started to get annoyed.
As the story progressed, I noticed that the writing became more ‘telling’ than ‘showing.’ I’m told repeatedly that their relationship is forbidden, there are so many family secrets, etc…over and over again, even all the way to the 70% mark. I’m not a fan of stories that like to elongate and drag out plot devices to create conflict and in my opinion, I think that’s what the author did with the ‘secret’ that the hero and heroine were hiding. And then when it was actually revealed, I felt…underwhelmed. It’s bad of me to say, but because I’ve read SO many books with this kind of secret, it desensitizes me. While I felt sorry for the characters and wished it never happened, it wasn’t a compelling enough of a reason to drag it out through almost the entire story. Lastly, the final 20% of the story was just drama overload. The pace of the book totally changed and while the first portion moved steadily, the author cranked up the pace, stuffed, then wrapped up all the loose ends in this teensy last portion. It’s safe to say I wasn’t a fan of the rushed ending. I do think if the book were longer there would be more room for plot development.
Natural Love is a NA forbidden romance standalone unrelated to the author’s other books. I will not spoil what makes their relationship taboo, only because it’s revealed in the very beginning of the book so it’s not like it’s intentionally hidden from readers.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Journalist. Novelist. Broadcaster. Blogger.
An overactive imagination has always served Sara Celi well. Starting from age 10, with an epic tale about a soldier during the Civil War, Sara has made creating stories her life’s work. After graduating cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 2004 with a degree in Broadcast News and History, Sara Celi started her decade-long career in broadcast journalism at TV stations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio.
Her love of the written word came to fruition with the publishing of her first novel, The Undesirable, in 2013 and has since published The Palms and Prince Charming.
Born in New Orleans and having lived all over the United States, Sara Celi now calls the Greater Cincinnati area home. In her spare time, she likes to read, shop, travel, run, volunteer with the Junior League, serve on the board of Wesley Community Services, and work with Cooperative for Education, a non-profit providing educational opportunities for the children of Guatemala.
To keep up with Sara Celi and find out about her future works, subscribe to her mailing list, The Celi Circle. Subscribers can participate in exclusive giveaways and events. You can also follow Sara