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REVIEW: When in Paris by Beverley Kendall

College freshman Olivia Montgomery is thrilled at the chance to start over, escape the rumors that plagued her in high school. And she can finally put her juvenile crush, Zachary Pearson, where he belongs–in her past. Then her unrequited love strolls into her French class, shattering Olivia’s newfound peace, and the feelings she’d thought buried for good come rushing back. Now she can’t shake her unwanted attraction to the one guy who can twist her stomach into knots with just a smile…but has never given her the time of day.

Zach’s good looks may have always gotten him his pick of girls, but it’s the star quarterback’s skill on the football field that gives him his pick of the Big Ten colleges. To escape the crushing demands of his win-at-all-costs father, Zach opts for a private university in upstate New York where…his present and past collide. And the one girl he’s always wanted but can’t have–and a class trip to Paris–turn out to be the ultimate game changer that has him breaking every one of his rules.

Dear Ms.Kendall:

For the past week, I’ve had seven New Adults staying in our house–my four, my eldest’s girlfriend, a good friend of his from college, and a visiting Australian. The New Adult world you write about in When in Paris not only has nothing to do with how New Adults actually behave, it’s also a whole lot duller than New Adult reality. (Although there does appear to be less arguing over whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.)

The heroine and hero of  When in Paris, Olivia Montgomery and Zach Pearson, went to high school together where they never spoke mostly because Zach ignored her with the single-mindedness of a Red Sox fan at a home game. Olivia has craved Zach forever.

It had all started on the first day of high school. I’d been fourteen—you know, the age when our bodies are a flux of surging hormones. The instant I laid eyes on him, I felt a physical attraction so powerful I swear it left me dazed. I think my heart had been in the smile I sent him, to which he’d responded by giving me the colder-than-arctic shoulder.

Olivia was baffled why Zach constantly gave her the Big Chill. After all, as she points out,

Beyond crushed is the only way to explain how I felt when he’d completely ignored me. At that point, disliking him had been a simple matter of self-preservation. Of course that’s not how I looked at it back then. No, back then I was just plain hurt, not to mention nursing a bruised pride. You see, by then I’d become accustomed not only to male attention, but their admiration. It hadn’t been anything I’d actively sought or was particularly proud of, it just was.

So gorgeous Olivia has always longed for but been ignored by gorgeous Zach. Yeah, he’s phenomenally hot too.

In high school, he’d been considered the ultimate catch with girls falling for and after him like a line of dominoes. And I swear from the way the eyes of every girl in class are currently fixed on him, he’s all set to retain that status.

At six-two, Zach’s the quintessential quarterback—all broad shoulders, narrow hips and lean, well-defined muscles. His hair is the closest shade to black without actually being black, close-cropped at the sides and back, and long enough on the top to give a hint of natural wave. He has a habit of running his hand through it and considering its slightly mussed appearance, he’d been recently doing just that.

When in Paris by Beverley KendallAt the start of When in Paris, Olivia is shocked, freaked, and–oh God look at his wickedly beautiful eyes–to realize that Zach is also a freshman at the small college she’s attending. The school is 300 miles away and in a different state than where they went to high school. She can’t understand what he’s doing there. He was the star of their high school football team, his older brother is the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, and Zach had been heavily recruited by many of college football’s most storied programs. The college Olivia–and apparently Zach–attends is Warwick University, a decent Division I school but nothing like the Big Ten schools where Olivia had thought he’d go. Poor Olivia, all she wanted to do was go to college and let boys admire her gorgeousness, do well in her classes, hang out with her supremely beautiful best friend April, and go to Paris over fall break with her French class. Now Zach and all his not-for-Olivia yumminess is here and it’s just awful. (Cue a heavy on the base song by Massive Attack.)

That’s Olivia’s view on her relationship with Zach. Zach’s is utterly different. We know this because each chapter changes point of view.

Zach has always jonesed for Olivia but he’s not allowed to like her because–and there’s a BIG mystery going on here kids–his family hates her mother. As Zach explains,

I don’t know Olivia that well and she may be hot as all hell, but she’s always come across as pretty reserved. Some of the kids at school accused her of being stuck up; the girls for obvious reasons—jealousy—and the guys’ probably bad-mouthed her because she shot them down.

In our junior year, things got worse when Olivia returned from summer break looking noticeably bigger. Rumor had it she’d gotten implants, so she’d been stuck-up and fake and shallow.

Publically, I chose to reserve judgment, but inside I’d latched on to the idea like a burr on a horse’s tail. Just as I’d thought, the apple really didn’t fall far from the tree. I decided she must be just like her mother, which supported the reasons I didn’t like her—couldn’t like her. There’d just been one problem, not only was she gorgeous but, real or bought and paid for, she’d had a first-class rack to boot. Truly a winning combination.

So, Olivia of the supermodel face and stunning boobs and Zach of the gorgeous face and rock hard abs must now face the horrible truth. Their high school peers and Zach’s inexplicably closed-minded parents aren’t here. Zach’s totally off her rocker high school girl friend Ashley isn’t here. Zach and Olivia have, gasp, a French class together. They have no choice but to end up in bed as soon as the plot can be forced to allow them to do so. (But only after Olivia has a “They’re real and they’re spectacular” show and tell moment with Zach.)

Zach, in order to escape fall break at home where his bullying dad will harangue him to switch to a better football program, decides to go to Paris with the French class. Olivia arranges to sit next to Zach on the flight and, by the time they’ve landed in the City of Love, Zach decides to seduce Olivia.

But now that we’re talking, I can’t help thinking more and more that we can do something more like a friends-with-benefits thing. I mean, I can’t see her as a one-night-stand. I like her. I can talk to her and she wants to learn more about my two favorite sports. But I’m not looking to get serious with anyone. Not now. Not so soon after Ashley.

“No problem,” I assure her. “I’ll teach you everything you need to know in Paris.”

Her eyes flit to mine and then she glances away. Only when a blush washes over her face do I realize what I just said and how it could be taken. But she’s right, I won’t mind teaching her a thing or two about that too.

Olivia does indeed let Zach teach her zee ways of love in Paris–which, as portrayed by Ms. Kendall, might as well have been anywhere. And before you know it, Olivia’s in love and Zach’s loving getting laid and getting his hands regularly on her (real) bountiful boobs. But, apparently what happens in Paris, has a different meaning out of Paris and all it takes, when Olivia and Zach return home, is for Olivia to use the B word (boyfriend) to make Zach abandon tail and run. (Poor baby, he’s still scarred by his crazy constantly texting him ex-girlfriend–her irresponsible parents have begged him not to set possibly suicidal Ashley off and Zach feels responsible for her sanity.)

There are tears, jealous fights, painful discovered truths about family, and more description than I ever want to read again about how hot, gorgeous, sexy, firm, built, and lickable these New Adults are. The angst in the book has the heft of a poorly written term paper and is equally as interesting. The plot is on the silly side and is in large part propelled by parents who really should know better.

The world faced by the 17 to 25 cohort is fascinating, challenging, and in constant flux.  I usually enjoy talking to the New Adults I know. Their efforts to define their lives and their realm is interesting. Gorgeous New Adults who don’t struggle with money, don’t worry about the future, and have the self-awareness of Gwyneth Paltrow aren’t interesting. I didn’t like either “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” Olivia or “all these chicks want me, what’s a stud to do” Zach. Yes, both have redemptive moments, but, overall, neither character is believable or engaging.  The world Ms. Kendall places them in–whether in Paris or in the USA–is presented with the depth of Matt Lauer interview.

Dear Author has reviewed several New Adult books positively in the past year. I had hoped my first venture in doing so would be enjoyable. No such luck for poor Old Adult me. If you are looking to read a great New Adult book, look away from When in Paris. I give it a C-.

I’m off to find a New Adult to unload the dishwasher,

Dabney

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I loved romances when, back in the mid 70's, in junior high, I read every Barbara Cartland novel I could check out from the library. Then, thanks to a savvy babysitter, I got my hands on the hot stuff. To this day I can remember how astonishingly steamy I found Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love. I abandoned romance when I went to college and didn't pick one up again until 2007 when I got my first Kindle. Since then, I’ve read countless romances; loved many, liked more, hated some. Most of what I read is historical and contemporary romance, but I’m open to almost any genre. I like my books to have sizzle, wit, and plots that make sense. I’d take sexy over sweet any day. I’m a sucker for smart heroes and smart-mouthed heroines. When not reading or writing about reading, or wishing I could rule the world, I'm meddling in the lives of my kids--I have four, ages 17 to 21--, managing my husband's practice, doing bossy volunteer work, and hanging out with Dr. Feelgood.

10 Comments

  1. bam
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 09:34:19

    I haven’t read much New Adult books…are there any of them who have protagonists who can only afford to eat Ramen and has to cook things on a hot plate and sleeps on a futon she got on the free section of Craigslist? and has a roommate who wants to know if she can pay her half of the rent in weed?

  2. Jane
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 10:17:12

    I skipped this one based on the high coincidence of the two of them showing up at the same private college and from your excerpts and thoughts, it seems like it was the right decision.

  3. Bronte
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 10:18:07

    Gave this one a whirl because I enjoy Ms Kendall’s historicals. It was a misfire for me as well. It felt more like a high school than college with some of the descriptions of classes. I agree that if Olivia and Zach had been a little less physically perfect and a little more self aware it would have been a better book. There were also a number of typos that were annoying. Having said all of that it wasnt the worst book ever and I will try this author again – probably one of her historical though.

  4. Dabney
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 16:23:55

    @Bronte: I will definitely pass on April’s story.

  5. Ros
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 20:55:35

    Are NA books typically in 1st person present, like YA books?

  6. Kaetrin
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 20:59:25

    Oh, this sounds awful. I’m fresh from reading two excellent New Adult books and I’m feeling the good book hangover which is making it very tough for the books I’ve picked up since. This one sounds nothing like the ones I’ve enjoyed. I’ll pass.

  7. Kay
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 21:38:22

    @Kaetrin: Which NAs did you like so much?

  8. Kaetrin
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 21:56:22

    @Kay: I read an advance copy of Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) which releases at the end of May and then I read Tammara Webber’s Good for You.

  9. Kay
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 22:18:09

    @Kaetrin:

    Thanks, Kaetrin! I’ll have to keep a lookout for DYT; that looks really good. (Good for You was one I enjoyed too. It’s funny how they have similar titles.)

  10. Theresa Boyt
    Feb 07, 2013 @ 16:09:12

    Well I really enjoyed this book. Its fiction and so one doesn’t need to take it so seriously. I liked the cute little coincidences and how strongly the characters emotions for one another came across the page. I think if your looking to dissect a book then this isn’t for you but if you want a fun, enjoyable romance then you should take some time to read this one.

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