Quick review for a fairly quick read. I almost feel better knowing that I've started this series in the middle, because I probably would feel more frustrated backtracking and seeing how Merrick and Rachel's relationship started given some very...um...sketchy details.
In any case, my introduction to this series started with the novella "Take Me Back," which I thought was okay for both the writing style and respective story in its length, but I still expected a little more from it. "Given" is the third book in the "Give and Take" series, and for the most part, I almost feel like this story would've been better as a novella. (I know, weird, right? My thoughts on the novella were that it needed more expansion.)
It was too drawn out for the conflict to be a full novel. Too many sex scenes, too much meandering back and forth of Rachel and Merrick over the central conflict of the novel - in which Merrick's long lost daughter wants back into his life all of a sudden. Rachel gets something of a jealous streak and feels like she's put to the side in Merrick's life, even when the two secretly hold the same desire to be married and have kids.
There are moments when Merrick and Rachel have good sensual and romantic chemistry - and I liked those parts, but after a time, these interludes became too frequent and overshadowed details where the two were trying to work out conflicts about Merrick's daughter coming back into his life. And it's almost a certain detail once the daughter's motives are ultimately unveiled and Merrick has to make a decision that threatens to tear him and Rachel apart for their relationship.
I almost feel like there was too much ruminating over their relationship for their "perfect" match and the announcements of "I love yous." That slowed the pacing of the narrative despite how quickly I went through the narrative. It felt repetitive, and I'm definitely sure some of it could've been cut for conciseness. The aim of the story was fine, the execution just didn't deliver that well.
Overall - I was mostly on the fence for much of the read, and the ending left me much in the same place. I'm willing to finish out this series for what it offers, but mostly - this didn't deliver because of its respective execution.
Overall score: 2/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Forever.