In Review: If Only (If Only… #1) by A.J. Pine

Posted March 16, 2014 by Kim in 3 Stars, In Review / 7 Comments

In Review: If Only (If Only… #1) by A.J. PineIf Only by A.J. Pine
Series: If Only #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: March 24, 2014
Format: eARC, 342 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My rating:

Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.

It's been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it's been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr. Right Now. 

Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend. 

Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.


in review my thoughts

I love a book that has angst, misunderstandings/lack of communication and the back-and-forth of a love triangle or complicated relationships as much as the next person, but this one was just a little over the top for me. It quite literally was always SOMETHING with these characters. It was exhausting. But it wasn’t all bad. I really did enjoy the book, I just didn’t love it.

We meet Jordan as she’s on a train to Scotland. We don’t know why she’s heading there. We just know she’s going there alone and her friend has encouraged her to hook up with someone while she’s there because it’s been way, way too long since she’s been with a guy. She meets two guys on the train, Griffin and Noah. Griffin’s attractive, but she thinks he’s probably a player, yet she’s still tempted by him. She and Noah share an intense moment (with kissing!), but it’s ruined when she realizes he clearly has someone else in his life. After arriving at school in Scotland, she realizes that both Griffin and Noah are attending the same school, and she was correct – Noah has a girlfriend who is there with him. It’s all very complicated and the actions of each character only make it more so.

Griffin likes Jordan. Jordan likes Noah. Noah is dating Hailey, but is attracted to Jordan. Jordan won’t start up anything serious because they’re all only there for such a short period of time. But that still doesn’t stop her from having a little bit of fun. And a lot of angsty drama. It wore me out. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to happen. Griffin and Noah were both good guys and Jordan definitely had chemistry with both of them. Things were just complicated. As tiring as it all was, it was all realistic. From the dialogue to the characters to the friendship to the setting, it felt like it could be happening on any college campus on the planet.

There were a lot of characters in this book. Some were better and more complex than others. Some were more likable than others. Jordan was just ok for me, but I can’t really pinpoint why she wasn’t more. She was likable enough and I could feel her confusion when it came to the boys. I could see why she would be attracted to both of them. I just wanted her to step up and say how she felt. All of the characters needed to do more of that. I adored Griffin and was more than a little annoyed when he disappeared partway through the book. You’ll have to see for yourself if he comes back. Noah was, without a doubt, swoony. He was complicated and had a difficult time making up his mind, too. The only character in this book that I felt truly ever spoke her mind, was Jordan’s roommate Elaina. I loved this girl. She was sassy, she was meddlesome, but it all came from a good place.

I’ve mentioned the angst a couple times. I may have thought it was overdone, but others didn’t feel the same way, so if you’re a fan of contemporary romances, you should check this one out and decide for yourself. If you enjoy instant gratification, this won’t be your type of book at all. If Only is all about the slow burn that I usually love so much, and it’s not that I didn’t love that aspect of the book, it was all the other things that brought it down a bit for me. I will say the ending left me giddy. The premise of this book was excellent, and while I think it got a little off-track partway through, it recovered nicely and ended on a high and satisfying note. Truth be told, this is probably more of a 3.5 star book, but if you read my reviews with any regularity, you know I don’t give half stars. 🙂

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


About A.J. Pine

A teen librarian by day and a romance writer by night, A.J. Pine can’t seem to escape the world of fiction, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s the author of the If Only series (Entangled Embrace), the Only You series (Berkley/Intermix), the Kingston Ale House series (Entangled Select), and the upcoming Crossroads Ranch series (Forever Romance). When she finds that 25th hour in the day, she might indulge in a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires, superheroes, and a certain high-functioning sociopath detective. She hails from the far off galaxy of the Chicago suburbs.


Kim Sig_edited-1

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7 responses to “In Review: If Only (If Only… #1) by A.J. Pine

  1. YES!!! Wow, I feel like I am reading my own thoughts on this book. I just posted my review yesterday, and you expressed what I was feeling better than I could. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I just couldn’t get on board with Noah or with Jordan. And boy oh boy did they exhaust me. I still enjoyed the story, but for different reasons than I thought I would.

    I want Griffin to get his own book. He was my favorite character, and I feel like his story is something that I could love.

    Great review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

    • Kim

      Ok, I’m glad my review made sense. I felt like I was rambling and incoherent. It was exhausting. Enjoyable in a way, but absolutely exhausting. And yes! Griffin needs his book. There’s more to that boy and I want to know all about him.

    • Kim

      Yeah, if you don’t like angst, I would back slowly away from this one. I like it, but it was still almost too much for me.