Author: Jamie McGuire
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
The Overview: Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
I haven’t been so enraptured in a book since I read The Night Circus two years ago. The stars really aligned for me on this one and I found myself considering cancelling plans so I could stay home and read it (Oh, the hazards of befriending a booknerd). It was perfect: great pacing, great characters, and great plot…until about halfway through.
I’m not a fan of senseless turmoil, and I felt the end half of the book had that in abundance. She almost would’ve done herself a service to end the book sooner and focus more one lengthening the bits at the beginning that were working so well for her. Without going into specifics, let’s suffice to say she climaxed a fantastically building conflict a bit too premature, then she introduced another conflict that I thought was a bit silly. The dark moodiness of the cover and the book’s description led me to believe that there was something really dark and twisted in this girl’s past (which ironically is not usually my cup of tea), and honestly I think that’s really what the story needed to keep going. Don’t even get me started on the profound unhealthiness of the relationships in the book. Although I guess it’s difficult to have senseless turmoil without that element.
Even though I had some gripes with the plot, I have to give the author kudos for her character creation. Her focus on physical description – particularly mannerisms and facial expressions – made for some awesome characters. Each one came across as a real person, and I haven’t seen many authors who pulled it off better. She really brought them to life for me, and that’s the main reason why I still rated the book so highly. When the plot turned, I still found the characters wildly entertaining and that was more than enough to keep my attention. Another more subtle strength to her writing was in setting. I found myself reliving my own college experience countless times throughout the book, and I imagine others will do the same. McGuire wrote without specifics, and I think it was a deliberate tactic to make the story come alive for each individual’s experiences.
Overall, I consider McGuire and exceptionally talented writer, I just wished she’d taken the basic story in a different direction. I enjoyed her writing style and characterization so much that I will definitely be picking up anything else she writes.
Recommendations: Although the novel wasn’t incredibly graphic, there were a lot of sex scenes. There was also a fair bit of language and a hint of violence. All-in-all, subject matter considered, I thought it was very tastefully done. because of this, though, I would recommend this book mostly to women who are comfortable with the romance genre but also enjoy works of fiction. I’m creating a new category for this book: a robust romance!
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