Bewitched by Bella’s Brother by Amy Lane
Sebastian Craig and Isabella Bryne have been best friends for five years in the Neverland of academia, and that’s where they’re planning to stay. So when Bella’s brother, Asa, offers them a rent-free summer in his gorgeous home before they move to their next college and degree, they jump at the chance. It looks like a good deal at first… but there’s more to Asa than meets the eye, and Sebastian finds himself suddenly hip-deep in complicated, grown-up problems and the frightening, bemusing prospect of having a family that will miss him when he’s gone.
When the best summer of his life finally ends, Sebastian has to make a difficult decision between staying in perpetual childhood forever, and facing adulthood—with all of its joys and fears. It seems that when Sebastian and Bella came up with a master plan for the future, they didn’t count on Sebastian being bewitched by Bella’s brother.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ahh Amy Lane, you can do nearly no wrong. This is a surprisingly contemporary piece, I assumed paranormal/fantasy based on the cover and title. Instead it’s a light hearted, easy to read and enjoy story about a commitment-phobe who falls in love with a man-virgin and his family. There is no real tension, I mean there is but it’s kind of ridiculous and artificial, and the real strengths are the fabulous characters and delightful dialogue. The road to love is mostly easy and the commitment fear is negligible. For readers looking for a fun, entertaining, absorbing, and easy contemporary romance piece, this fits that description very well.
The story is character driven with characters as the real stars and Lane has done an incredible job here. Sebastian and Bella are best friends with a fun, biting banter that shows how close they are even as they snipe at each other. Their back and forth dialogue is entertaining and fun to read while still giving Bella some real depth other than a token fag hag. She’s so much more than that and becomes a breathing character that you simply adore; and one that deserves a happy ending of her own quite badly. Her family is equally entertaining with their gregarious mannerisms and affectionate brood. Asa is almost too perfect but he’s offset with a quiet nature and almost too easy going manner. He comes close to losing Sebastian from Asa’s own issues that he deals with.
Sebastian on the other hand really shines as a talkative, intelligent, yet still nerdy man that desperately seeks a family and attachment yet fears losing them constantly. His belief that he’ll be kicked aside one day makes him slow to give in mentally, yet he’s generous with his love and affection. While he still fears he may one day lose everything, he still reaches out, falls in love, and lets himself become part of a unit – both Bella’s family and Asa with his son.
This dichotomy is at the heart of the tension injected in the story as Sebastian falls in love with the near perfect brother Asa. Yet Sebastian is supposed to leave at the end of the summer for his second doctorate and thinks he has to go because nothing really lasts. This is the weakest part of the book since the ending is obvious and not just because this is a romance. The story sets up how utterly perfect Asa and Bella’s family is, the house they live in, the completely scene stealing and utterly adorable son Jordan, how Sebastian doesn’t want to leave, his degree really isn’t that essential to his life, and on and on. It’s so obvious that Sebastian should stay that I got annoyed with both the story and character. Why go against everything you want and desire simply to prolong a happy ending? It made no sense to me as a reader nor did it fit really with Sebastian at that point and it made me want the story to hurry up and get back to the characters.
This definitely affected my overall enjoyment of the story yet the characters truly are great. Their banter, dialogue, and unique quirks all came through from the smallest side character to the main group. They feel near perfect yet have enough texture and flaws to stay interesting and the dialogue simply shines. The repetition of the terms “heifer” or “cow woman” in referring to women gets old since this has happened in a few of Lane’s books, but other than that the quick wit and back and forth makes for a really engaging story. Jordan as the son is adorable from his fascination with bugs to drill sergeant repetition and even his frequent sickness.
While the tension is not the strength, the book shines in showing a set of characters that will wrap around your heart almost immediately. The quick pace makes for a story you’ll fly through and likely be disappointed it’s over. This is definitely one of Lane’s better stories and the solid writing helps save the story (even when I got frustrated with it).
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