Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Rules of Attraction- Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.
When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.
As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?

I first heard about ‘Perfect Chemistry’ through the trailer for ‘Rules of Attraction’, and I’ve wanted to read the whole series ever since. I absolutely loved ‘Perfect Chemistry’ (review here) and although ‘Rules of Attraction’ doesn’t hold as close a place in my heart as its prequel does, I still really enjoyed it.

The premise is yet another variation on the common theme of ‘good girl saves bad boy’—when I first read the blurb, I thought, ‘Okay, it’s going to be a repeat of the first book.’ However, there are key differences between the main characters that completely change the feeling of the books. Alex was a gang member to protect his family; Carlos’ intentions are a lot less pure, and it takes quite a while for his good side to appear—his rude, ungrateful actions made my fingers itch to slap him for a good couple of chapters. I liked him a whole lot more once his sense of humor and civil behavior showed up, and by the end of the book he earned one of my soft spots.

While the book trailer conveys Carlos quite well, it doesn’t give Kiara Westford enough credit. She’s a much tougher character in the book, one who works through her problems and has a mind of her own. Although she created a few cringe-y moments for me, I liked her a lot—even though she cared about other peoples’ opinions of her, her self-consciousness was more to do with her stutter than an ‘uncool’ complex.

On the whole, I liked the secondary characters and relationships. Kiara’s friend Tucker mostly annoyed me, but I loved her little brother, Brandon—one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about Simone Elkeles’ books are the relationships between siblings. I was happy to see Alex and Brittany again, (they were as cute as ever!) and I respected the Westfords, too. In short, it doesn’t live up to ‘Perfect Chemistry’, but it’s still a gritty, gripping romance.

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