The setting is small-town Milton, Minnesota, and our main chracter Chastity (call her Chaz) wants nothing more than to have sex. She’s not shy about it, and she won’t back down from the goal. Unfortunately, it’s a small town, so the pickings are slim when it comes to guys. What’s a girl to do?
Lucky for her, while working her shift at Matt’s, the local bar and grill, she meets the mysterious Sebastian – a newcomer to Milton. Guess what Chaz’s goal is now?
Kiss It is a fast-paced romance and total brain candy. It’s not a deep book, though there is a great personal realization for Chaz at the end of the book, and Chaz is a fully fleshed character that will keep readers engaged and laughing. Sure, she’s got a one-track mind, but she really reminds me of a girl in a small town just jonesing to get out. She’s a good student and has a lot going for her, but she’s also confused about her future. Should she go to college at the University of Minnesota? Keep working at Matt’s? Join Americorps?
Downing’s book will appeal to older teen readers — I emphasize older, as there are steamy scenes and strong language. Chaz reminded me immediately of Cecily from Claire Zulkey’s An Off Year and I think it would appeal to that readership. Your female readers who find Sarah Dessen “too light” will appreciate Chaz’s sassy attitude and the real issues she faces within what is otherwise a cute romance story. No need to take this one too seriously, but Downing will surprise you with a nice ending and some twists that weren’t obvious to the reader.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).