Sunday, August 14, 2016

Last First Kiss by Lia Riley

When I received a copy of this for review, I was interested to see the author trying her hand at older contemporary. I always like to try and give an author a second chance. Her new adult novels didn't work for me, so I was hoping a book with more mature characters would.

The idea of a lifestyle blogger MC was what hooked me in the blurb. Most of us on Goodreads blog, and for me, it's something I'm really passionate about. I was really excited to see it portrayed in a book, especially since it was apparently an integral enough part of the story that it warranted a mention in the blurb!

...Well, no. Annie's blogging is actually a pretty tiny part of the story. And even though she's supposed to be a Big Deal, even gaining top hits in search results for pertinent topics, her blogs really aren't that good or noteworthy. Plus, she's not really a lifestyle blogger, she's a mommy blogger...something the blurb fails to mention. You say lifestyle, and I think home decor, not child-rearing 101.

Despite her blogging presence, Annie is surprisingly naive. I didn't really like her much. She's one of those childlike MCs who falls apart at the slightest conflict, more teenager than adult. There's a subplot where one of her commentors on her blog leaves her "mean" comments that basically sum up to, "you're not all that." And Annie is seriously torn up by this HORRIBLE comment that she isn't all that lamenting that she never meant to become so popular. That is hardly mean- but guess what? It turns out that the commentor is someone who hates her in real life, which is a neat and strange way of explaining away mean comments on the internet. You need a thick skin to blog, and sometimes people can decide to hate you without even knowing doesn't always have to be personal, as in the case here. She's also rife with hormones, practically orgasming every time the hero so much as takes a drink of water.

I also didn't really care for Sawyer, the aforementioned hero. I thought the misunderstanding between them that resulted in their falling out was lame (but I think that about most falling outs - why don't people ever talk?). Sawyer isn't really an alpha jerk, and I found myself wanting to like him, but his character was just so bland. He's a stepford boyfriend, basically - it's like he's reading off a script to tell women exactly what they want to hear "I'll wait for you as long as you need" "your stretchmarks are beautiful" "I think your child is awesome." I'm not ripping on nice guys - I do think it is important to say variants of these things and mean them, because communication and affection in relationship is important, but this was pretty much all that came out of Sawyer's mouth, these perfect boyfriend one-liners delivered with perfect sincerity right before sexually intimate scenes. How convenient.

I also didn't like how Sawyer tried to bully and guilt Annie into staying in Brightwater. I thought that was a really nasty thing to do, especially since everyone who lives there seems to hate her still. Are you seriously going to make the woman you claim to love live in a place where everyone is ready to label her as a traitor to American life just for sitting in a cafe with an espresso? Did they teach you that in your perfect stepford boyfriend classes? Also, the whole Kooky Carson thing was just plain ridiculous. Just because her dad is a photographer, eats quinoa, and listens to 70s music, that makes him a hippie? I am skeptical, Brightwater.

Finally, with regard to the writing style, I feel like the writing was decent at a technical level. There weren't any typos and everything was grammatically correct. But stylistically, this story was ridden with tropes and cliches, so cheesy that I began to wonder if this book was maybe set in Wisconsin, not California. LAST FIRST KISS was a disappointment. I don't think I'll be reading any of the other books in the series.

1 out of 5 stars.

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