Sunday, 25 August 2013

review: Price of a Kiss

by Linda Kage
self-published, August 15 2013
new adult contemporary (is there any other genre in NA besides contemp?)

Reese Randall had to move across the country and legally change her name to escape from her stalker ex-boyfriend. So when she finds out the hot guy across campus is Mason Lowe, a rumoured gigolo, she knows she can't deal with that kind of baggage. Once they get past the insta-chemistry, however, they find they're actually good friends. But it just might not be enough.
The cover:

Eesh. Love the font treatment (seriously, the texture & the rectangular blocking are just so great) but why the ubiquitous passion-faced girl in a sensual embrace? I don't feel there's a need to announce to the world that a book is NA, and I can easily imagine a cute, classy campus photo as the cover, with our two stars.

The book:

This is the first self-pubbed book I've reviewed, and I'm so glad I took a chance on Ashley's recommendation and cracked open my first new adult title.

Reese is a likeable protagonist, the type who keeps a running internal monologue that will either endear you completely to her or (if you're feeling more jaded) might annoy you. But mix that bouncy attitude in with her flashes of strength and resolve, and you have an admirable lady who comes into her own in interactions with the other characters in the cast. She and Mason have some excellent chemistry, but more importantly, their scenes together are tinged with genuine friendship, which is much harder to manufacture than sexual tension. But the latter isn't lacking either; the anticipation in the more-intimate scenes is absolutely stellar and makes the later sexy times much more meaningful.

Kage wisely keeps the secondary cast sparse, devoting more page-time to developing Sarah, Mason's younger sister who has cerebral palsy, and Eva, Reese's cousin. Any time Sarah is in a scene, Reese and Mason become a hundred times more likeable; Eva's character is layered and complicated and all the better for it, because she is so evidently not perfect. But together, Reese and Eva are wonderful:
"Okay, okay." I lifted my hands to stop her rambling. "Just... keep calm and think of Chris and Liam."
"Okay," Eva repeated. "Okay." She panted a few times as if she was already prepared to go into labor. When an expression of shock lit her face, she straightened and gaped at me. "Hey. That actually worked."
With a grin, I tossed my hair. "I know, right."
No hetero female on the planet could panic with a mental image of the Hemsworth brother combo running through her head. (p. 163)
The writing—my biggest concern heading into this book—holds up very well, doing its job more than serviceably. Sentence structure sometimes gets a bit awkward (see the "When an expression of shock..." quote above), but only truly discerning readers might will be annoyed. Otherwise, this book is a swoon-inducing, gush-inducing lust-&-love fest, with perhaps the most ultimate wish-fulfillment ending ever. Not that I'm complaining. :)

Ethnic balance: Um, 1 out of 5. I'm not sure I caught any diversity at all...? But that seems to be the case with most new adult...??

Rating: 4.1 out of 5