Total Star Rating: 4 Stars
The first story in a total of four books in a New Adult (NA) romance series; these books sizzle enough to melt the ice these boys play on (I know, slightly painful punny metaphor). It’s funny, I just happened to discover these books when I was doing research for my current Work in Progress (WIP), and it showed up when I was looking for popular titles that took place on a college campus. I honestly had no idea I was going to enjoy them as much as I did!
What It’s About:
Hannah Wells is incredibly smart, she can get an A+ on a paper without having to try, but dating and putting herself out there with painful memories from her past really makes it more difficult than she likes it to be. She’s finally found someone she’s willing to try it all again with, but he hardly notices her (of course), so she unwittingly gets some help from the big man on campus and Division 1 Hockey Team captain, Garrett Graham.
Garrett, who is most likely going to the NHL after graduation, needs some extra help bringing up his grades in order to keep that dream alive. He discovers that Hannah, who’s in his class, could help him out by becoming his tutor. In return, he’ll help her make the guy that she’s into a jealous wreck by pretending to be in a relationship with himself. Seems fair? All they have to do is ignore the feelings that they both secretly develop for each other, and they can be on their separate ways…sounds easy right?
“How about a date?” I offer.
That gets her attention. She straightens up like someone shoved a metal rod up her spine, then swivels her head in astonishment. “What?”
“Ah. I’ve got your attention.”
“No, you’ve got my disgust. You actually think I want to go out with you?”
“Everyone wants to go out with me.”
She bursts out laughing…“Just out of curiosity,” she says, “after you wake up in the morning, do you admire yourself in the mirror for one hour or two?”
“Two,” I reply cheerfully. “I kiss each one of my biceps and then point to the ceiling and thank the big man upstairs for creating such a perfect male specimen.”
She snorts. “Uh-huh. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Perfect, but I’m not interested in dating you.”
What I Liked:
- The Banter! Garrett and Hannah are both incredibly sarcastic characters, and they have some pretty hilarious conversations throughout the story. He writes her off as the cynical, prudish music major, and she does the same by assuming he’s just another dumb, buff jock. I appreciated the snark that they both throw at each other; it’s pretty obvious when you read it in context that Garrett only says that stuff because he knews that she just assumes he’s a cocky, arrogant, dumb jock. They do learn a few things from each other, and it was super great to see their relationship (that came to be entirely by accident) change from enemies, to reluctant allies, to friends, to lovers. There was plenty of Banter with the other characters too from both of their inner circles that makes the book enjoyable to read.
- The Humor! This had to be one of the funnier of any novels that I’ve read; the author does an amazing job with hilarious situations or one-liners that made me actually laugh out loud.
- The Never Gets Old Romance Trope of Fake Dating! This book has the story arc that could be considered as cliché: the fake relationship arc. In my opinion, it never gets old as long as the author still makes it entertaining to a degree. I will enjoy any book that includes it because it usually leads to some hilarious/sexy scenes.
- The Romantic Chemistry! The author really excelled at the relationship between the two main characters; to keep this different from #1, It was felt that Garrett and Hannah had some great chemistry that neither could resist each other after a while. They had some sizzling scenes along with some that were more tender too; they really are a great couple!
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Conflicts…One thing that I absolutely detest about romance novels is that a huge problem that the couple faces is so completely simple, or could have a really easy fix: working on their communication. I can’t tell you how many issues could be solved if they’d just talked it out with each other; to not just assume the worst, and not dance around it; JUST TALK IT OUT, COMMUNICATION IS KEY!! If you couldn’t guess by now, this sort of issue comes up in the story, and this is one overused conflict that I get tired of. Sure, part of it also involves an outside source that causes it, but it doesn’t make me change my mind. Also, while they are important topics that are so incredibly important to understand in today’s world, I feel like it’s a shame when things like sexual assault and domestic abuse are used as a plot device in a ROMANCE novel…They should be dealt with in a much better, more sensitive way. In a NA Romance, it felt stretched, forced and unnecessary to include into the story. These issues didn’t really drive the story, it was how their relationship evolved over time that did.
- So Many Clichés…I guess going off the first one, there are plenty of clichés in this story: there’s a hot, college athlete who’s a manwhore and is also rich, there’s the quirky & sarcastic brainy girl who no one would’ve thought a jock would ever like, a ton a dumb sorority chicks who want to screw athletes because they’re hot and boost their social status, the “it’s so big, is it going to fit?” line when they have sex for the first time (I know, what a face smacker, so cringey), but at the same time…its a freakin’ romance story. What do you expect? It’s like someone going to see a Godzilla movie expecting it to have a good plot. Um….no, you go to see it for awesome, badass, explosive scenes with a barely there plot to tie it all together because thats just the reality.
Overall, it was perhaps one of the better romance stories that I’ve read, purely for the snarkiness of the characters, the overall humor, and the chemistry that I saw between Hannah and Garrett. Is it perfect? Oh god, absolutely not, but it’s fiction, not real life, so keep the two separate, you’ll be happier about it and get more out of the books that you read. Anyone who loves a good fake relationship story arc will adore this title, and probably the rest of the series too!
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell