A Bevy of Smexy New Adult

I’ve decided this is New Adult week at Byrne After Reading – mostly because I’ve got a couple titles to talk about 🙂

Like Ann Aguirre’s As Long As You Love Me. We first met Lauren and Rob in I Want It That Way – Lauren is Nadia’s best friend and roommate, Rob is Nadia’s older brother. Lauren’s had a thing for Rob since she hit puberty, so coming home to Sharon, Nebraska after flunking out of college is a blessing and an embarrassment. She gets to spend time with Rob, but she’s got to deal with all the small town gossip about why she’s back in town. Convinced Rob will never see her as anything other than a surrogate kid sister, she’s shocked to learn he feels the same way.

Love is just as sexy as its predecessor, but it’s got a bit more of a melancholy tone to it. Both Lauren and Rob have pretty serious issues that need to be dealt with. Each picks up on the other’s insecurities and tries to soothe them away. I like them together. Rob’s obliviousness in the opening chapters was awesome, and the connection between them was strong and vibrant. While I though the way she reached this conclusion was a little off, I loved Lauren’s realization that she hadn’t fixed any of her problems and that she had to – and that she had to do it alone. It was a painful choice, but a necessary one.

What bugged me, though, was how quickly Rob’s feelings changed. He goes from completely clueless and treating her like a little kid to admitting he’s wanted her for years in a blink. I felt cheated, and it shoved the physical aspect of their relationship into fast forward. Oh, Rob makes her wait for it, but where the sexual tension was one sided before, it suddenly became a two way street, and the change was a bit jarring.

You don’t need to have read I Want it That Way, but it helps. You might find yourself singing the title song at some point, too. A sexy, emotional read, and I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy.

When Rhonda Helms said her newest title, Scratch, was about a DJ, I got all excited. Casey’s a senior in college who mostly keeps to herself. The only time she ever lets a bit of personality through is when she’s in the booth at The Mask, the club she DJs at. But for some reason, Daniel, one of her classmates, takes an interest in her – and he’s not satisfied with her non-answers. She finds herself reluctantly opening up to him, until her past rears up and smacks her in the face.

Casey’s a likeable character. It’s completely understandable why she’s closed herself off to everyone, and seeing her break down her own walls makes you want to cheer for her. Plus, the tension between her and Daniel is hawt. For his part, Daniel’s a fun and witty hero, but the closer he and Casey become, the pushier he gets. He doesn’t understand why, if he’s an open book, she can’t be, too, and after a while it makes him seem less multi-dimensional. There’s a lot of too pushy and for your own good going on in this book, and sometimes I wanted to smack everyone.

The pace is slow in spots, and it’s not an upbeat kind of story. Given the trauma Casey suffered, though, I don’t know that a happier tone would have worked here. A nice way to spend a few hours on a dreary afternoon (like I did, yesterday, because it was definitely a dreary afternoon in Seattle).

Which left me plenty of time for Her Best Shot by Shannyn Schroeder. Stuck in Atlanta over spring break when her car breaks down, Layla takes pool shark Phin up on his offer of a couch to sleep on while her car’s in the shop. Not even one night goes by before she bypasses the couch for his bed, and two spend the next few days engaged in a flirty, sexy fling. When it comes time for Layla to go home, though, she realizes she doesn’t want to leave – now all she has to do is convince Phin to let her stay.

Of the three, Shot was far and away the steamiest. Layla and Phin have no qualms about jumping into bed right off the bat, and their chemistry is like whoa. Layla’s a math major (let’s hear it for sexy nerds!) and inquisitive. She’s not afraid to ask Phin question after question, trying to figure him out, and he does the same. For the amount of time the two spend in bed, they talk quite a bit, and the parts where Phin’s teaching Layla how to play pool are kind of awesome. So swallowing their “might not be love yet, but definitely getting there” connection is pretty easy.

Phin’s the son of a gypsy (no, seriously) and Layla’s fascinated by his old life. It’s given him a bunch of hang ups and insecurities, though, and it takes him a while to work through them. Layla’s not without her issues, either, but here’s where the story falls short. Short being the key word. It’s not very long at all, which means certain elements of the plot get compressed. Like Layla’s panic attacks. The transition from happy and carefree, la la, to dear god you ripped my heart out and I never want to see you again is abrupt – I wonder if there were whole chapters cut at that point.

But nerds! Layla’s smarts and Phin’s desire to make everything all right after he screws up (and he really screws up) make up for the story’s faults. Plus, it’s the first in a new trilogy, and if the next two books are as nerdy and hot as this one was, you bet I’ll be reading them.

Copies of As Long As You Love Me, Scratch, and Her Best Shot provided by the publisher(s) in exchange for an honest review.

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