Your Dirty Secret Is?

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure? You know, you love reading a certain genre or author and probably for reasons that can induce a little blushing?

I certainly do. I LOVE Simone Elkeles’s romances for one big reason: they’re sexy.

Although I didn’t think that Perfect Chemistry was particularly well written nor had the most developed or dynamic characters, I loved the romance. I thought it was a nice one-off book, but when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I got a little overexcited about it.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Rules of Attraction tells a similar story to that of its predecessor, except instead of focusing on Alex and Brittany’s post-high school relationship in Colorado, it zooms in on the budding romance between Carols and Kiara. Carlos, you might remember, is Alex’s brother who has gotten himself into some trouble with gangs and drugs when living in Mexico with his mother. Kiara is the daughter of one of Alex’s mentors and favorite teachers. This mentor, who is referred to as The Professor throughout, actually ends up playing a huge role in Carlos’s life, as well, and Carlos adopts him as a personal mentor as well.

Elkeles writes a cross-cultural love story that is so reminiscent of West Side Story, with less singing and more sexual tension. It’s sexy; it’s compelling; and it’s entirely (older) teen appropriate. There’s just the right amount of trouble with Carlos — which explains why he’s even in Colorado with Alex — and just enough intrigue with Kiara to make her much more than his puppet. The idea of the good girl with the bad boy doesn’t feel stale in this one.

This is far from the perfect book, particularly when it came to the writing. I had a couple issues with improper Spanish, for one. It’s been a few years since I’ve taken it, but I know “usted es estupido” is improper when Carlos is speaking to his brother (page 246). There was another example of improper Spanish, too, when Carlos first meets Kiara at Flatiron High (the strange use of some Italian – il – in one of his sentences). Hopefully, these sorts of issues will be hammered out by the final printing.

Likewise, I don’t think the character development is particularly memorable, and I actually was sad we didn’t get more of Alex and Brittany. There are attempts at creating some threads throughout, including the “Rules of Attraction” and Kiara’s car skills, but they never become fully fleshed and thus, they almost seem silly to include at all. It felt like they were there to do something, but they never came to be more than extra furniture in the story.

What Rules of Attraction has going for it is pulse. It is a quick moving read with everything you want in a good love story: questioning, following the heart, denying oneself, then ultimately having a satisfactory conclusion. Oh, and the gorgeous cover is entirely fitting to the story, too. There is indeed some kissing in the rain.

Reading and loving books like this sometimes embarrasses me, if for no reason other than knowing the characters are quite a bit younger than me. I think Elkeles would have a fantastic market in the older young adult sector (your 20-somethings) if she were to expand outside teen books. Where many adult romances fall into carrying too much baggage, these books manage to avoid the baggage issue and maintain a real sense of innocence, exploration, and trepidation to them. Sure, it’s a standard story trope, but she has a real pulse to her writing that has enough grittiness and enough innocence that just works for me.

Rules of Attraction will be available April 13 from Bloomsbury Teens. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last book in this series, as there is still another Fuentes brother who can find his true love, too.

But back to my original question — are there any books you find are your dirty reading secrets? Share them in the comments.
Of course, I’d also love to know if you’re as much a secret fan of Simone Elkeles’s romances as I am.

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