I’ve been on the hunt for unusual stories in romance, and this very much ticks the box. A hero that is legendarily trash in the sack. WHAT!
Plot: Lucy is a manic pixie dream girl and sister to Ireland’s most infamous rugby player (hero of book 1 in the series). Her brother’s arch nemesis is fellow player Sean, who is known for endless one night stands and some classic nemesis conduct from the previous book. He decides the next step in his nemesis book is to seduce the man’s little sister only to immediately take a liking to her and desperately try to figure out how to keep her.
There are a lot of good elements to this story. Yes, Lucy is a classic MPDG, but it’s quite clear from early on that this is mostly a reaction to her mother’s obsession with appearances and propriety. Sean is your standard alphahole who, deep down, is just a scared little boy who wants a hug. But he also has the kind of social ineptitudes you’d expect from a person like that, like being terrible at all things intimacy. I find it weirdly hilarious that he uses the skin care of any woman he sleeps with, and if he likes it, he either steals her moisturizer or makes note of it for later.
The issue I found was that the elements all seemed half baked. Outside of having rainbow hair, she is a pretty standard vapid dummy. Her job is as a paparazzi, but this never comes up as an issue for dating a famous person, and she has no sense of irony when she’s upset at being recorded while drunk singing karaoke in public. It’s not a job she’s doing because she’s destitute, she just really sees no issue with stalking people and photographing them to make a buck. Somehow, Sean, who has literally been photographed naked without his permission and had those images shared online, is completely fine with a person who does this for a living. When Lucy is stressed, she goes to a meditation retreat. Only it’s not like any I’ve heard of, since people can basically do whatever they want. It’s more of an adult summer camp. It does not surprise me at all that the big problem she’s dealing with over the course of the book is the fact that when she’s emotionally off centre, she steals stuff for the rush. She’s presented as very progressive, but then says nonsense like if she likes how Sean does the sex, then all women will.
Sean, too, has little depth or consistency as a character. He’s terrible at sex because all the women he’s been with only care about the publicity of being with a famous rugby player, so they always fake it and he never learned how to actually be competent in the sack. But somehow he’s a phenomenal kisser. Who is stopping to give him a tutorial on kissing but not on sex? Also, he’s apparently actually spent time researching his inadequacies, but never clued in that lasting more than a few minutes is generally considered important? Also, he’s bad at sex for about 5 minutes.
These personality quirks made it very hard for me to connect with the characters or root for them. Honestly, Sean needs a therapist, not a girlfriend.
That said, I’ve DNFd every Penny Reid book I’ve ever picked up. If you enjoy Penny Reid, it’s possible that this will work for you.