I recently started reading Loving Mr Daniels by Brittainy C. Cherry after seeing it recommended under books about forbidden love (in case you can’t tell from my last review, I’m really into forbidden romances at the moment).
I’m currently 38% of the way through this book and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not for me.
Like, really not for me.
This book is melodramatic, soppy and cringe. It is the very definition of instalove, and the forbidden romance factor is fairly weak in my opinion. I should point out that this is a student-teacher romance which is of course wrong on every level, but what’s interesting is that this particular story could not be more watered down if it tried.
To start with, Ashlyn is a 19 year old highschool student, while the teacher, Mr Daniels is 22 years old. The two characters meet for the first time not at school, but in some other neutral setting without knowing who the other is, and they connect instantly.
Daniel (yes, his name is Daniel Daniels) invites Ashlyn to his gig because he happens to be the lead singer of a band. She attends the gig later that evening and they chat briefly before she spends the rest of the night idolising him as he performs on stage.
The following day, they are both shocked to discover that Daniel is Ashlyn’s English teacher at school.
While I do think the premise is interesting, and the book is not objectively awful there are a number of ways it falls short for me. I fully acknowledge that this book is not for me, so rather than just ranting about it for fifty paragraphs I thought I’d express my frustrations by turning it into a story I would actually enjoy.
So without further ado, here are some of the things I would change about Loving Mr Daniels.
The tragic backstory
Both Ashlyn and Daniel have a dark and troubled past, which is a trope I’ve never really been a fan of (unless of course it’s done well).
Before we know anything about either of these characters, we learn that they’ve both had loved ones die under horrible circumstances. On top of that, they have an unstable home life. If it were up to me, I’d scrap that whole thing and start with a clean slate. This book does pile on tragedy after tragedy so I think it would have been better to leave it. An interesting backstory, but not an entirely tragic one will suffice.
The whole Shakespeare thing
These two characters are both fans of Shakespeare which is excruciatingly clear from the beginning.
Their bond over Shakespeare is probably the only thing you need to know about these two. In fact, I am pretty sure Daniel learns of Ashlyn’s love of Shakespeare before he even knows her name… because “by the way, did I mention I love to quote lines from Shakespeare?” (that’s not a line in the book but it might as well be).
Being able to quote lines from Shakespeare is not that impressive. What’s more impressive, is to be able to interpret his texts in new ways and come up with a unique perspective on his writing or his characters.
Granted, I’m not far enough along in the book to know if this happens, but it would be cool to see Ashlyn impress her teacher with a new interpretation to one of his favourite Shakespearean tragedies. I imagine that would earn her many points with Mr. Daniels.
Ashlyn might be 19 but she sure doesn’t act like it. She establishes herself as the bratty stepdaughter from the second she meets her new family, which would make sense if she was, you know, 15 or 16. But 19? Girl, you’re an adult—act like one!
Another thing that really bothered me about her character is how judgemental she is towards others. In one scene, she is at a house party but instead of being a normal person, she takes out her book and starts reading it in the middle of this party. Meanwhile, a drunk girl comes along and pukes over the railing beside her and Ashlyn’s response is to judge this girl she doesn’t even know and then continues reading her book.
Could you be any more insufferable? I personally don’t care for characters who get drunk or do drugs etc, but this b*tch is at a party with a bunch of teenagers—all of whom are at least two years younger than her! What does she expect?
Not to mention, there’s a time and place for reading. It is a solitary activity, so if you want to be alone maybe don’t go to a party where you’ll be surrounded by people whose actions you clearly don’t approve of?
That whole childish display of hers really rubbed me the wrong way… it was like she was trying to make a statement about how different she is…
The beginning of their relationship
This is a very weak forbidden love story for me, because these two characters meet in the most innocent way imaginable and are only affected by their relationship once they learn about the true nature of it.
How much better would it be for Ashlyn to develop a crush on Mr. Daniels which remained entirely one-sided… until his feelings develop as he learns more about her background and why she’s so interested in Shakespeare to begin with.
There could even be a little mystery to her, why she is the way she is type of thing. As of where I’m at in the book now, there is no mystery or intrigue to Ashlyn’s character. She’s fairly transparent as far as that goes.
Mr. Daniels’ age
I really wish Daniel’s age was bumped up to about 25 or 26 instead of 22. Twenty two just seems incredibly young for a teacher, and since girls tend to mature a lot faster than guys at that age, it makes the age gap less of an issue.
Mr. Daniels carrying on about Ashlyn
The point where I sort of gave up on this book was during one of Daniel’s chapters, where he is professing his desire for Ashlyn. I had to completely skim over it, because I just couldn’t handle the cringe. This line really took the cake for me;
“I loved how, when I graded her papers, I wasn’t biased. She was simply a genius”.
The only way this line would make sense is if there was any evidence that Ashlyn was indeed a genius… which of course there is not.
Mr Daniels being in a band
I understand the appeal of the lead singer of a band, but I’m slowly coming to realise I do not like books that have music, singers or bands in them. It’s just not something I am interested in. I also find that for me personally, music has so much more impact when you can listen to it. Every chapter of this book starts with lyrics from Romeo’s Quest, which is the name of Daniel’s band and frankly… I. Don’t. Care. I don’t know the songs (because they’re fictional) and the lyrics aren’t interesting to me.
I just wish that Mr. Daniel’s appeal as an English teacher was enough and that he didn’t need to be in a band to be interesting.
The number of times this book refers to Ashlyn’s breasts as watermelons and just her body in general… is gross. Mostly because it’s teenage boys being disgusting towards her but then Daniel also comments on her body as well. We get it, she has huge breasts and a rockin’ bod. I just wish her boobs weren’t described as melons so much… it’s creepy AF.
And by the way, I am no snowflake when it comes to these things. Yes, teenage boys talk about girls in a sexual way that’s no secret. I still enjoy physical descriptions of characters, especially since it helps to visualise them in your mind… but melons? Thank u, next.
I think Ashlyn’s character is a teenage girls’ idea of perfect. She’s beautiful, smart and a supposed deep thinker. She not only captures the attention of the boys in her school but also her teacher, who appreciates her smarts and doesn’t objectify her too much… just a little.
I am surprised by how much commentary I have for this book considering I’m not even half way through it, but I think I’ll end it here.
This book is just so painfully hard for me to get through… I wish I didn’t have to be so mean about it, because this author is very popular in the romance community and the book deals with a number of issues that are far more relatable for a teenager than for a 30 year old like me. It is also incredibly popular, with an average rating of 4.2 stars and more than 27k ratings—so what the heck do I know?
I will definitely read more from this author before writing her off completely, because to be honest the writing is not that bad. My reasons for not connecting with this book have to do with the characters and the story more than anything.
Here’s to hoping the next book will be better!