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REVIEW:  One Night of Scandal by Elle Kennedy

REVIEW: One Night of Scandal by Elle Kennedy

ONSDear Ms. Kennedy:

I’ve read and really enjoyed some of your work, so when Jane featured One Night of Scandal as a Daily Deal, it was a no brainer for me to pick it up.

Reed Miller is in a quandary. He’s been attracted to his best friend, AJ’s girlfriend since they started dating. Darcy is everything he wants. She’s gorgeous and smart and passionate about her work as a teacher. She’s the kind of woman you settle down with. Despite Reed’s reputation as a lady’s man, he’s starting to feel like it’s time to calm down his wild social life and begin to build a future with a woman. He’d love for that woman to be Darcy, but of course, she’s AJ’s girl, and there’s no chance there. He’s got a great life as a former MMA fighter. He owns a successful night club with his two best friends, but they’ve just uncovered a problem with a drug dealer that seems to be selling Ecstasy from their club. Reed decides to track down the dealer.

One night while casing the competition, looking for possible links to the mysterious dealer, Reed spies Darcy in a way too short to be legal dress. She seems to be trolling for guys. Incensed, Reed marches over to haul Darcy away from the action. He’s shocked when Darcy tells him that she and AJ have broken up and she’s looking to move on with her life. Reed can’t believe it. This should be his chance, but Darcy is AJ’s ex, and as a former girlfriend of a good friend, she’s completely off limits. Reed insists on taking Darcy home. Of course, he ends up landing the hottest kiss either of them have ever experienced on her, but they agree that neither can betray AJ and that despite their attraction, things can go no further.

Reed resolves to confess what happened with Darcy to AJ immediately, but the opportunity passes and somehow he doesn’t tell him. And when AJ asks Reed to stand in at a self-defense class that AJ was supposed to teach, but now feels it would be awkward to do it with Darcy, Reed can’t say no. Of course, being in such close proximity to Darcy means fighting their incendiary attraction even harder. Soon Reed and Darcy are making love.

For Reed, despite his guilt over AJ, it’s everything he dreamed of. He knows Darcy is The One. Darcy knows Reed’s history and has no interest in having her heart broken. She tells Reed that their hook up is just that, a hook up. There will be no flowers and candy — strictly sex. Reed is unhappy, but of course, won’t stop seeing Darcy in the hopes that it will grow to something more. But will Darcy begin to think of Reed as more than a secret hook up? What will AJ say when he finds out?

I’m sorry to say that this book didn’t work all that well for me. There seemed to be a lot of short hand and cliche being employed to try to raise the emotional stakes in the story. There’s the drug dealer storyline, which allows Reed and Darcy to be thrown together for a moment. There’s the AJ storyline, which ended up mostly being a tempest in a teapot. There’s the Reed teaching self-defense storyline that employed plot moppets. There’s the final Big Misunderstanding which seemed too silly to even be serious, and then there was the hero acting like a giant jackass to scare off the heroine gambit.

I almost felt like there was a big bowl of romance tropes that you were drawing out of a bowl and throwing into the story. While I have no particular objection to any of the above referenced storylines, none were fully fleshed out, so in combination, they felt like a hodge-podge of tropes without a truly cohesive, fully realized story. I’m disappointed, because I generally find you to be a really reliable author whose work I consistently enjoy. But this one was a miss for me. Final grade: C.

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

REVIEW: The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

100-society-spradbery

Dear Ms. Spradbery,

I’m really into YA thrillers as of late. Whether this is a result of my general boredom with YA fantasies these days or a callback to my teenaged love of Christopher Pike, I don’t know. But I can’t seem to get enough of them right now. Your novel, The 100 Society sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a try.

An art student at a British private school, Grace has one goal. To tag 100 locations around the city, thereby joining “The 100 society”. Graffiti is a type of art, after all. But 100 tags is a lot to do by yourself so Grace has recruited some friends to help her: her friend, Faith; pretty girl Cassie; Cassie’s boyfriend, Ed; her best friend who wants to be more, Pete; and bad boy, Trick.

Unfortunately, the closer Grace gets to 100 tags, the more it becomes apparent there’s a stalker — the Reaper — who doesn’t want her to succeed. And as the threats escalate, Grace and her friends face increasing danger, and the added stress reveals fault lines in their relationships. Not the best thing to happen in this situation. But even worse is the truth: the Reaper might be someone they know.

I had a strange experience reading this book. I didn’t connect at all with any of the characters. I found them superficial and 2D. At times they just downright annoyed me. And anyone who knows me knows that I like to read for characters. But despite this lack, I could not stop reading! I had to know what was going to happen next! What is this black magic?

Some people would claim there is a love triangle here. I wouldn’t actually describe what happens in the book as a love triangle. Grace is into Trick. (Trick is short for Patrick. I know. I know.) Trick is into Grace. Pete is into Grace. But Grace only likes him as a friend. That’s not a love triangle. There is one moment in the book where I can see people pointing to as a sign that Grace might consider Pete as a legitimate suitor, but I saw it as a momentary lapse of judgment and confusion due to stress.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the questionable female friendships. Grace’s friend, Faith, likes Pete, so she’s not too thrilled by the fact that he’s into Grace. That’s understandable. What I wasn’t so into was that her friendship with Grace was defined by Pete — she’s sad they don’t spend as much time together anymore (but that’s because she doesn’t like Grace hanging out with Pete). She thinks Grace is leading Pete on, which is an idea I generally recoil from because it contributes to Nice Guy culture. He’s nice! He’s been friends with you since forever! He’s into you! Why won’t you like him back? If you’re not interested in him, don’t lead him on… by being his friend? Really?

Like any true mystery, there are many suspects. I thought they were all legitimate — the red herrings were not obviously red herrings in my opinion. So the twists and turns worked for me, even though the characterization was light and more often than not, the characters made decisions because the plot required it rather than because it was intrinsic to their character.

If you’re looking for a thriller with deep, interesting characterization, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a fast read with lots of twists and turns — that may make you whisper to yourself, “WTF?” — The 100 Society is for you. That said, this book was the literary equivalent of a potato chip. Seems like a good idea at the time, but it doesn’t really stick around. C

My regards,
Jia

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