I must admit, the title and premise drew me. A hitchhiker was a refreshing take on forbidden romance, one I’d not read before. But while it had tons of potential, the execution was a letdown.
*May contain spoilers*
Like the story, the heroine–Chandler’s character had so much potential…a woman lost and suppressed in her life and relationship. She did a brave (although at times reckless) thing and went off to find herself, but then she loses herself again with a damaged, emotionally abusive man whose moods flip on a dime. Yes, that’s right, the “hero” of the story— Dawson Michaels, the sexy, alluring hitchhiker— turns out to be free-loading, double-standard wielding, can’t keep it in his pants douchebag.
“'Seriously, Chandler, I’m not going to just cut them out cold turkey.'” –Dawson on the other women he’s sleeping with.
Chandler is a total doormat, letting Dawson walk all over her. She accepts his double standards and makes apologies for things she really shouldn’t. This most definitely is not a “How Chandler Got Her Groove Back” story. In fact, I wanted to shake the girl and make her grow a backbone. A trust-fund baby, she has the world at her disposal but apparently her self esteem is so bad that she can’t find anything meaningful in life to be fulfilled and wastes all her energies on her insta-lust for a man that gets his needs meet from whoever he feels like, no apologies made.
“'Yeah, I f*cking expect you to keep your mouth shut. You have no say, Chandler. None. I’m single. Whatever you think we shared was exactly that, a moment. I go out and do whatever the f*ck I want. If I want to go sleep with half the girls in town, I f*cking will, and you have no say.'” –Dawson on being a two-timing man
I absolutely couldn’t look past him sleeping with other women. The fact that their first sex scene follows on the heels of her realization that he does this, coupled with the fact that she has sex with him unprotected (yuk), left me feeling disgusted by scenes that were supposedly meant to be a turn-on.
There’s really no true romance as there are many places where it’s more “tell” than “show” in regards to the development of their relationship. And there are inconsistencies with that as well. Readers are “told” that he wants a wife and kids one day, but are “shown” that he doesn’t do relationships. Perhaps a few chapters from Dawson’s point of view might have lended insight into his words and actions, but really both Dawson and Chandler felt underdeveloped.
All the swoon worthy “falling in love” parts are largely missing. Dawson is no book boyfriend. In fact, he should be a poster boy for the type of guy women need to stay away from. The story basically paints a picture of a guy who’s hot and gorgeous on the surface, but offers nothing at the core. The only connection I saw between them was one of emotional dependence and toxic attachments.
“'Unbelievable. I spend a couple of nights in your room, and you think we’re together.'” –Dawson on how sharing a bed in a 5 bedroom house and cuddling means nothing.
Lastly, Dawson’s supposed redemption—guys like that don’t change so fantasy goggles are greatly needed for this ending. But make sure to take them off once you finish reading. The story is obviously fictional and suspension of disbelief is to be expected, but sadly it feels like the story romanticizes a bad scenario. There are plenty of women in real life stuck in hopeless situations whether in a loveless/lustless relationship like Chandler is in with Seth or in an emotionally abusive relationship being taken advantage of like Chandler is with Dawson. It's disturbing that Chandler doesn't rise above either and thus her character doesn't grow or evolve. We all know it's dangerous to pick up a hitchhiker in the real world, but there's another "danger" happening in this book. Keep on driving.