If I could sum up this book in one word, it would be “disappointing”. I can’t say it’s a bad book, but it managed to touch on a number of my personal pet peeves.
I was rather excited by the plot, which is both ridiculous and somewhat unique. It centered around two best friends, Nicholas and Derek, making an outrageous and public wager that they’re a better lover than the other. The heroine, Caroline, offers herself up to be the judge and that’s how she enters the picture. There’s also a second heroine, Annabel, who is the love of Derek’s life.
And that brings me to my first pet peeve. This book is two romances in one. I don’t typically care for secondary romances because they detract from the main storyline. And in this case I’m not even sure I’d call it secondary because I think it took up around 40-50% of the book. So it was like two novellas mashed together.
For all that, I preferred Derek’s and Annabel’s romance to Nicholas’s and Caroline’s. It was sweeter, more believable, and much more full of feeling. But it also hit another of my pet peeves: they hardly shared the page for most of their romance. Nearly all their interactions are with other characters and as much as Derek’s lovelorn angst brought on the butterflies for me, I was disappointed by their lack of interaction. Their romance would have made an excellent full length novel. And their one love scene was actually the best in the book. It was so much more passionate and full of feeling.
Which brings me to pet peeve number three. Sex without feeling. I love a steamy book. It’s pretty much a requirement for me. But there’s a reason I don’t really read erotica. I want all the feelings of love mixed in with the sex and this book didn’t do that at all with the main romance. They had a lot of sex and while it was kind of hot, none of it was passionate.
Beyond that I found Nicholas and Caroline to be rather cliche characters, more like caricatures of a thousand other romance novels. I’m not even motivated to write much about them. Derek and Annabel kind of fall into that category too, but I think the fact that they had less interaction with each other made it less noticeable.
I didn’t care much for how the book was written or how the story was told in many aspects. For one, there was a lot of telling instead of showing. So, for example, instead of witnessing Nicholas and Caroline bonding over conversation, we’re only told that they bonded over conversation, which just makes it harder to get wrapped up in the characters.
The writing was average and perhaps a bit clumsy. It needed some editing to make it flow better. Many sentences had several words more than needed to make the point and simply did not come off elegantly or easy to read. And a well written book is usually one or the other. It could have been tightened up.
I’m giving it three stars because despite all that, I didn’t hate the book. It was ok. There were some fleeting feels here and there and I kind of fell in love with Derek even though he wasn’t the main hero. I did find myself rushing to get through it and skimming a lot. So, it definitely wasn’t a spectacular book by any stretch for me. But I think it’s possible other people might enjoy it more than I did.