As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Series: Apartment 2B #2
Also in this series: I Want It That Way, The Shape of My Heart
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: October 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, New Adult
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Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother.
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever—until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her.
Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.
Rob isn’t the guy you see just reliving his glory days from high school, but no one really expected much out of him and he hasn’t really gone far. He didn’t go to college, he’s still working construction with his dad, and he has no plans to secretly go off to college or get a higher education. He is really good with his hands and excels at carpentry, and someday he’d like to do that full time.
Lauren struggles with social anxiety, which has only gotten worse since she went away to college. In order to deal with the overwhelming panic she felt being around so many strangers, she started drinking pretty heavily. When she realized she was starting to like being drunk a little too much and her anxiety wasn’t lessening at all, she deliberately flunked out of college so she could go home. She’s been in love with Rob most of her life, but she didn’t expect him to see her as anything but his kid sister’s best friend. Especially since he has a girlfriend when she gets back.
As they spend time together, working on his house and teaching her to drive, Rob realizes there’s more to Lauren than he ever thought. When he’s offered the chance of a lifetime, Lauren breaks it off. She knows she won’t be able to deal with his new life with her anxiety, but she doesn’t want him to give it up for her.
It was interesting to see a pretty-boy hero who isn’t very smart. He isn’t dumb, he definitely has common sense, but he isn’t book smart.He’s not very confident and kind of has low self-esteem. I think too often we see the dumb jock from high school totally redeemed as this super smart guy who was just misunderstood. My heart hurt for him, because he wasn’t so dumb that he didn’t understand all the snide remarks and put-downs he overheard through the years.
Lauren’s “ultimate sacrifice” rankled, because I hate it when a character makes decisions for others, but it was hard to be angry at her when she clearly had a mental health problem. Her emotional and mental growth through the book was one of the better parts for me. She realized she couldn’t continue to live her life alone and afraid, and she chooses to do something to improve herself.
The side-plot featuring Rob’s ex-girlfriend was also well done. I really enjoyed the secondary characters and the small-town setting.
This book was surprising in its emotional depth and character development. Though it has some flaws, I was pulled in from page one.
4 out of 5