This cover makes me laugh. I'm not sure whether it's because the title looks like something printed out on a label maker, or because of the discount Emma Stone in the arms of a dude pouting harder than a teenager taking a MySpace pic in 2005, but it's all gold. Sadly, what lies between the covers is not, though.
Abbi Glines was pretty popular about four years ago, when new adult fiction was first making waves. A lot of my friends really did not like her work, which made me curious, because I am one of those contrary, masochistic people who feel the need to read a book and find out for myself whether it's really that bad (and sometimes it isn't - case in point: TWILIGHT). When I saw one of the author's books at the used bookstore, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to belatedly check out the hype.
Marcus lives with a playboy named Cage. One day, a girl comes to their apartment looking for Cage who isn't his normal type (which means that she doesn't have fake boobs and isn't model skinny, basically - I believe Marcus calls her "natural"). The girl - Low - is crying because her sister kicked her out of the house - again - to entertain her boyfriend and the father of her niece. Marcus decides he wants her immediately (insta-love), tears and all, and is perplexed when Cage warns him away, claiming that Low is the girl he's going to marry once he's decided he's going to stop slutting around and commit himself.
Marcus slowly insinuates himself into Low's life, while both of them deal with their issues. Marcus is upset at his father for leaving his family for a younger woman. Low is upset at her sister for cavorting around with a married man. If you think that their problems seem like they're connected in some way - guess what. You're right. I mean, obviously. As soon as the word "married man" was used, it clicked for me immediately and I was like, "Well, this is not going to be a fun little ride to Happyville."
Here's the thing, the drama in the book is so stupid. I didn't like how Marcus put Low on a pedestal, praising her for being innocent and virginal, and talking about how hot she is compared to other women because she's natural. Whatever natural means. I mean, she wears makeup, and makeup isn't natural, so where is the line? Hair-dye? Cosmetic enhancements? Preservatives? There is so much girl-shaming in this book, it isn't even funny. Marcus is angrier at his father's girlfriend than he is at his father, but shouldn't his father be held accountable? He doesn't really call his father names, but he refers to the mistress as the slut or the whore, and then there's this delightful scene:
I wanted to hurt her. Slam her against a wall and scream at her. But I couldn't. So I settled for words.
"Suck him dry while you can, because you won't be young forever. He'll leave you one day too. For someone younger. A zebra doesn't change his stripes, and I can assure you there is nothing about you that's special. You're just a young piece of ass" (208).
Then there's the way Marcus treats Cage. They're supposed to be friends. He's living in Cage's apartment. Cage tells him not to hit on the girl he likes and Marcus does it anyway. He does it because he knows that Cage won't kick him out because of the fear that Low might leave, too.
There was a possibility he'd get so angry he'd kick me out. But then I was banking on Willow threatening to leave with me, and I knew beyond a shadow of doubt Cage wouldn't let that happen. He might be upset, but he wouldn't lose her. He'd put up with whatever she forced him to put up with in order to keep her close. I didn't get their relationship at all. One minute he reminded me of a pussy-whipped guy around her, and the next he acted like her damn brother. I didn't like it. He wasn't her brother. I wanted him to back off. He didn't cherish how special she was. I did (137).
This was the moment that I really started to not like Marcus. He's one of those possessive alphaholes who stalks the heroine, turning up conveniently (read: creepily) to offer rides home that weren't asked for, or to "protect" her from confrontations that he started. When he decides he likes her, he makes Low move all her things from Cage's room to his, and does sexy things to her in the common room. He's emotionally manipulative AF, and the way he treated his alleged friend really made me sick.
What is even more annoying is how Low uses Cage. She knows how he feels about her and seems to feel no guilt at all about doing stuff with his best friend under his roof. She also still expects him to stick around and do everything that he did for her before. When Marcus upsets her, who does she run to? The selfish twit has a freak-out because she's afraid he's dumping their years of friendship just because he didn't buy her her favorite soda.
Once inside I headed over to the fridge to get a Jarritos. I was thirsty. Opening the bottom drawer, I realized there weren't any more. Only beer. Cage never ran out of my drinks. But they were gone. He was letting me go (178-179).
B*tch, you can buy your own damn soda. Or have your boyfriend buy it for you. You constantly talk about how poor you two are, and you're still making him buy you soda? What the actual flip. It made me angry that this was portrayed as a panic attack because it felt more like a plot device. I hate it when mental illness is used in stupid ways to add plot points to romance novels, especially when the hero or heroine is introduced as a curative. If you're going to give a heroine anxiety, that is perfectly cool. But using it for drama and then never bringing it up again? That's where we have a problem.
At this point, I was still considering giving this book 2 stars for sheer entertainment. But then at the end of the book it makes me angry. Marcus finds out that Low's sister is the Other Woman wrecking his family and assumes that she knew the whole time and was basically having a laugh at his expense. He says terrible things to her, and starts drinking and rage-sexing other women while moping around about how hard his life is. That was when I decided that Marcus could go firetruck himself. Lack of communication to create drama is such an annoying trope, and the fact that he was so quick to throw their relationship in the garbage really doesn't speak much of him as a person (but we knew that).
The sex/romantic scenes are kind of strange too:
All I could see was all that hair spread out on my pillows. It reminded me of flames. I'd always loved to watch fires (136).
All it took was one small caress just where I needed it, and my world fell apart. It was as if someone had lit a bottle rocket between my legs (165).
Literally all he does is touch her once and it turns into a fireworks show down there. Since when did a vaginal boop lead to the Best Sex Evar?
The writing isn't bad. Stylistically, these books reminded me of Jen Frederick's Gridiron series. I think it's possible that I could get into some of the author's other works. Sadie was very likable, and I thought Cage was interesting (even though he's the stereotypical, promiscuous alpha male, I liked him a sight better than Marcus). Pretty much all of the characters in here were interesting, except for the two leads. Low's sister, Tawny, had spice, and was complex even if she wasn't likable.
I might read more of this author's books. But I can't really recommend this one.