Pepperperpetually dubbed a "nice girl"knows exactly what she wants. She wants a place to call home, a stable marriage, two-point-five children, and a white picket fence. Intelligent, kind, and newly single Hunter, whom she's loved from afar ever since her adolescence, can provide all these thingsif she can even get him to notice her. But that's the thing with nice girls... they typically go unnoticed, especially the plain-Jane wallflower V-I-R-G-I-N-S like her. To get Hunter to fall for her, she needs a game plan: she needs to tease out her inner bombshell. But in order to do that, she'll need experience, and at her level of desperation, she'll look anywhere to get it.
Pepper's search for a purely physical relationship, particularly with her lack of experience and sexual maturity, in order to achieve the idealistically domestic life she's always wanted, creates a complicated jumble of a romance storya not-quite love triangle, with a few fatefully belated realizations tangled in. This is an entertaining twist on the typical We Agreed to be Fück Buddies But Ended Up Falling In Love and the Honey, It Was You All Along! plots, but you can't really expect it to knock anyone's socks off.
The biggest thing that contributed to my enjoyment of this novel was the emotional depth within both Pepper and Reece. I'm not talking about the troubled pasts trope here, because I really felt it wasn't necessary to the development of the book, but rather, the reluctance and self-control both characters are forced to demonstrate when thrown into their sticky situation. Reece's mysterious, bad-boy-with-exceptional-morals vibe will make you want to probe him and get to know him, and Pepper's insistence on having Hunter while simultaneously falling for Reece, is a painful and conflicting issue.
Jordan's characters are intricate and very lifelikethat, I can't complain aboutbut Pepper as a whole, I had a problem with. As kind-hearted and easy to sympathize with as she is, for her age and circumstance, she seems like a loserand not the adorable, klutzy kind of loser either, but a complete and utter square. I know that makes me sound like a turbobitch, but her lack of social awareness (about everything and anything, not just with sex!) and very not-cute naïveté are so exasperating. She's a genuine, determined person, I'll give her that, but she's the kind of girl who doesn't understand sarcasm and innuendos, or is deluded enough to actually believe that one guy will give her everything she's ever wanted but never had (happiness, a perfect family, a large house, etc.). AND she's foolish enough to refuse Reece, who's right there in front of her practically ripping his heart open for her to use, because she's so fixated on this dream she's had. I accepted her as the narrator, but really had trouble liking or even relating to her.
Reece, as with most NA heroes, is absolutely deliciousthe kind of guy girls lose their heads over. Despite the fact that he seems perfect (has icy blue eyes and a flawless body; is a soccer-player-turned-bartender, as well as sex god), what readers learn of him beneath the surface is what will really made me swoon. Tall, dark, and troubled fans, you will go wild with this bad boysuch a catch!
Pros: REECE! Holy fück // Pepper's initial mortification with Reece is hilarious // All the characters are well written; I'm intrigued by Pepper's friends because they seem so two-dimensional, but I'm sure they each have their own stories (possible future books in the series??) // Great writing that flows smoothly and steadily // Easy, mindless read // Pepper and Reece make an unexpectedly good pair // Contemporary college setting
Cons: Predictable // Unimaginative storyline: "Average girl and super hunk fall in love in an initially no-strings-attached relationship"doesn't this scream contemporary romance? // Pepper is a consistent narrator, but an aggravating character // Hunter didn't seem that great to begin with; Pepper's "love" for him is unconvincing
Verdict: While the familiar synopsis of Sophie Jordan's debut contemporary romance didn't get my hopes up for a completely exceptional or mind-blowing read to begin with, I couldn't help but be charmed by her effortless, intriguing execution of the overrated plot. The cast of lively characters, steamy chemistry, and entertaining, endearingly awkward relationship that only comes with the college experienceor rather, college inexperiencemake Foreplay a breezy, party-like new adult novel, but Pepper's encounters with intimacy of an unwarranted connection, as well as release from repression to confront true desires, both add depth and complexity. I wouldn't call this an urgent must-read, but it's definitely a promising start to an exciting new university-set romance series.
Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy!
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).