Sunday 13 September 2015
#CBR7 Book 89: "Sweet Filthy Boy" by Christina Lauren
Rating: 4 stars
Mia Holland goes to Las Vegas with her two best friends to celebrate her college graduation. Mia's dream was once to become a dancer, but a nasty car accident put a stop to that dream and now she's on track to fulfil her father's dream for her, which is fast track through a prestigious business school in Boston. He's even offered to help pay for her apartment there. This Vegas weekend is Mia's last chance to cut loose, and she sure does.
Mia is shy, almost painfully so, and after her accident, she barely spoke at all for a long time. Her two besties have learned to interpret her silences and body language, but are shocked to see that when Mia is with Ansel, the hot French attorney from the suite across from theirs, she opens up, flirting and becoming a regular chatter box. That Ansel has two good looking friends that Mia's two BFFs can hook up with is a pleasant bonus. Mia has one weekend to go wild, and Ansel was only supposed to be a one night stand. But when Mia wakes up the next morning, only barely able to walk from her truly epic night, to discover a wedding band on her finger, she's not sure what to do. Ansel hands her a letter over breakfast, a letter she wrote to herself the night before. Mia wrote herself a letter once before, after her accident, and it's one of the things that gave her the strength to go on. In her drunken letter from the night before, she confesses that she's the one who proposed and that she really wants to give the marriage a try. Ansel claims he promised he wouldn't agree to annul the marriage until after the summer and wants Mia to come back to Paris with him.
Harlow and Lola, Mia's friends, also got married and have no hesitations about getting annulments. Mia thinks going to Paris is completely crazy, but after returning home, and facing a whole summer living in the presence of her disapproving father, she decides to extend her wild weekend to a wild summer, takes the plunge and goes with Ansel. Of course, she gets her period on the plane, while wearing white jeans. Then she's struck down with a horrible flu, meaning her new husband has to hold her hair back while she's sick all over his fancy Paris apartment and spoon feed her until she regains her health. Finally waking up after a week of illness, Mia is struck by that fact that she married a complete stranger. Now she's far away from everyone she's ever known, trying to see if absolutely mind-blowing sex can be the beginning of a stable relationship.
At the end of July, NPR published their list of 100 swoon-worthy romances. Sweet Filthy Boy was included among the contemporary romances. It also made it to the final eight books of Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books' March Madness tournament, which is where I first heard of the books. Along came my key word challenge for August, where this book fit right in. I was pretty much hooked from the get go.
I really liked Mia, and related to her shyness and insecurities. All her dreams were crushed along with her leg in that car accident and now she doesn't actually know what she wants with her life. Going to business school to please her father is clearly something she's deeply ambivalent about, but at least then he'll look at her with something other than disappointment. She's so clearly the sort of person who rarely, if ever, does something without considering all the alternatives first. So hooking up with Ansel, getting married and then deciding to stay married to him, following him to Paris to actually try to make the relationship worked was clearly going so completely out of her comfort zone, she might as well have left the galaxy. I loved her friendship with Harlow and Lola, who are clearly important supportive characters in her life and that even though they could have just been mentioned briefly as shameless sequel fodder, they are actualised characters, for all that they mainly speak to Mia over the phone for much of the book.
Ansel seemed to me to be a Greek god physically speaking and a bit like an adolescent puppy dog in personality at times. He's clearly extremely attractive, and being in his presence makes Mia feel enough at ease that she can really be herself. Unfortunately, since Mia isn't entirely sure yet who her real self is after the accident, having never taken the time to really settle down and think what she wants to do with herself, their time together isn't always smooth sailing. Extremely impulsive, Ansel pretty much just liked the idea of having Mia around when he got home in the evenings, ready and willing in his bed (or anywhere else in the apartment, they really don't seem to limit themselves to just the bedroom), not really considering how much time Mia has to spend alone when he's busy working. Up over his ears in a high-profile, extremely demanding lawsuit, Ansel spends a lot of time away from Mia, whose left to explore one of the most romantic cities in the world on her own.
Luckily, both Ansel and Mia acknowledge that a marriage is going to need work, and it's clear that they do a fair amount of talking and interacting. What I didn't like about the book is that this is just TOLD to me, not shown. Mia and Ansel have a LOT of sex. So much of it. In Las Vegas, in France. There's some awkwardness once Mia gets worried and self-conscious and overthinks things for a while, but they seem to work through that very fast. I get that the physical connection is what pretty much brought them together, and from Mia's internal monologue I understand that she and Ansel spent much of their first night together talking and that this also happens in Paris. It's just that when I'm not privy to the information that's exchanged during said conversations, I don't really see how their connection builds from the spectacular smexy times and I get annoyed and honestly, a bit bored.
I also thought, apart from his massive work load, Ansel seemed just a little bit too perfect. Sure, he's obsessively tidy, but he's also gorgeous, attentive, funny, generous, an amazing lover - you get the gist. Where were his flaws? About two thirds of the way through the book, one pretty major flaw is revealed, however, and it's a pretty impressive dark secret to have been harbouring. I very much admire the way Mia dealt with it, in a way that shows how much she develops over the course of the book and through her time with Ansel. While the ending may have been abrupt, it seemed pretty obvious that while Ansel and Mia's time as main characters is over, their story will continue as they pop up as supporting cast in Harlow and Lola's books. This is my first of Christina Lauren's books. They are apparently best friends who write highly successful romance novels together. Based on Mrs. Julien's reviews of their Beautiful Bastard series, I'm not sure they'll be something that appeals to me, but I will certainly be reading the rest of their Wild Seasons books, because I want to see all the characters get their HEAs.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.