Bliss is a virgin in her last year of acting college. She’s possibly the only virgin she knows and she’s desperate to lose this unwanted affliction.
Her friend persuades her to consider it a simple physical act and not a big deal, so off they go to a bar and Bliss lands herself a ridiculously handsome and horny Englishman. He’s reading Shakespeare in a corner whilst waiting for a locksmith and he’s never done anything like this before. Can’t say I’d believe him but Bliss takes him home all the same.
They get it on, and it’s all going great until the very last naked moment, when she yells something about cats, stops the imminent sex and makes a run for it. Frustration all around, but maybe it’s a good thing as the next day she starts back at college and who should be her new professor? You got it – handsome Englishman.
Thus starts a forbidden romance at the stage school. There’s a hint of a love triangle as best friend Cade is hot for our girl, but he’s long been friend-zoned and is nothing to worry about.
Now I like NA stories. I like college, new emotions, hot twenty-somethings in a structured environment. But this book I struggled to warm to. Not to say I didn’t laugh or enjoy parts of it – I did and it was perfectly readable – but the style plus the clichés kinda killed the first three quarters of the book for me.
There were LOTS OF CAPITALS BECAUSE WE’RE YOUNG. And socially awkward lying, and dropping things in shock, and misheard phones calls. The novel felt more YA than NA in many ways.
Quote the morning after, once they’ve seen each other at college:
““How’s your cat?”
“What cat? Oh! MY CAT. The cat… that is mine. Oh, she’s…” I had said it was a she, right? “She’s fine. All meowing and purring and other cat things.”
[Bliss bolts out of the room and we switch to her internal dialogue]
Then I sunk down to my knees (on a BATHROOM FLOOR. Clearly I was distraught because… GROSS.”
It took me a long time to engage with the love birds. Garrick, the handsome Englishman, was presented as a sensible and professional guy, but he was more than happy to have a one night stand. Then after he sees Bliss in class, he kisses her again despite knowing he could lose his job. I get it that they were attracted to each other, but the draw felt a little arbitrary. What was so special about the other except the fact that they were pretty?
I had no idea what Garrick saw in Bliss. She acted like someone 5-10 years younger than she was meant to be (22). She fibbed, changed her mind repeatedly, ran away, squealed, squeaked and had zero maturity or polish to her. It could’ve been cute and I don’t mind a ditzy or neurotic character, but I was annoyed at her a fair amount and that plus the set-ups lost it for me seeing her as a relatable character. More time was spent on why he was attractive, but not why she was.
Around halfway through the book, Garrick made some statements about the attraction which helped me understand it, but I would’ve liked some of that to have been implied sooner so I was more invested in them. Up till that, I was more interested in Bliss and Cade.
There was a section I really liked where the members of our couple were into close proximity for several days but with no chance of sex. It was very sweet and caring and I really enjoyed reading it. It developed Bliss and Garrick tons and moved me on hugely in feeling something between them.
Also there was some skill in the degree to which the stage school setting was described – it was just enough without getting boring or going into too much detail and provided an interesting backdrop to the story.
This book was recommended in an NA conversation on Twitter and the tweep I was talking to raved about it, so as usual, taste is everything.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Cora Carmack
Release Date: October 15, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins