Saturday 26 March 2016

#CBR8 Book 30: "Beautiful Player" by Christina Lauren

Page count: 432 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Hanna Bergstrom is a science nerd of the highest order, quite content to eschew most human interaction and just potter about in her lab. Her older brother is worried about her and makes her promise that she's not just going to devote herself to work. He wants her to go out, meet new people, socialise a bit. He suggests she give his best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and fellow scientist. Hanna doubts that her brother would suggest that she call Will if he knew she's had a crush on him since she was barely a teen, but she's also curious and can't resist the temptation to see Will again.

Will is surprised to see that Ziggy (as her family calls her), the girl he first met when she was twelve and he was nineteen has blossomed into quite an intriguing young woman. Quite happy with his carefree ways (he has two different women he engages in very no strings attached sex with weekly), he's amused by Hanna's brother's suggestion that he take her under his wings and help her get out more. He nonetheless agrees to meet her for jogging in the park now and then and his friends Sara and Chloe are delighted to take her shopping and give her a makeover. He does his very best not to lust after his friend's little sister, but the more time they spend together, the more difficult it gets. Hanna seems immune to his charms and even jokes about his playboy tendencies. She expects him to help her with advice for how to flirt with and ask out other guys, when all Will really wants to do is take her to bed himself.

As my esteemed partner in romance reviewing, Mrs. Julien, has already pointed out in her review of this book, Beautiful Player is a modern twist on the historical trope of the rake and the wallflower. While Bennett of Beautiful Bastard is an alphahole of the highest order, Will is quite a good guy. He's rich, successful, handsome and charming and never misleads any of the many women he's romancing about his motives or expects anything long term. Of course, having pretty much every business deal he engages in turn to gold and every woman he meets fall gratefully into his bed, he's quite bored with his charmed existence. He's looking for something new, something different, and while it takes him a while to recognise it, he's just as ready to settle down as his friends (in the earlier books).

Hanna is a great heroine, if somewhat inexperienced in various kinds of social interaction. The great thing is that she knows this and she understands that her brother is just looking out for her when he wants her to escape the lab and meet people and go out on a few dates. She's seen Will's effect on women since she was prepubescent (he once hooked up with her older sister in the garden shed) and is completely aware of what sort of a man he is. Her almost rude honesty when speaking to him leaves him flummoxed and once he realises that she feels the best way to learn what she's wondering about sex is to have it with someone who excels it (namely him), he's briefly resistant (worried about how her family, all of whom he loves as his own) but can't help himself.

This is the first of the Beautiful books that I mostly enjoyed without any misgivings. I liked both halves of the couple and could still have done without some of the faffing about in the last third of the book (this seems to be my common complaint with Christina Lauren's books - great fun, can't quite stick the run-up to landing, so to speak). I liked the previous books' characters showing up as supporting characters more than I liked them in their own books, to be honest. Now I just need to decide if I'm going to keep going with these books or quit while I'm ahead.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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