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The Boys Next Door is the first book in the Endless Summer series by Jennifer Echols. It was published by Simon Pulse (US) on 15th July 2007 and the book is 317 pages long.
Lori lives for summertime on the lake. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends--including the two hotties in the house next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.
But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.
But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girlfriend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard....
What I thought
I've loved both of the other two Jennifer Echols books that I have read so was excited with Keris Stainton said she'd send me this book after I sent her something else. I started it the day after it arrived and barely put it down.
As the book began though, I actually wasn't too sure if I was going to like it. I didn't really like the opening to the book so needless to say, it was quite hard to get in to. The opening introduces us to Lori, the female main character. It quickly becomes clear that Lori used to be a bit of a tomboy and she had just recently changed her whole image... to impress a boy. I don't think that this sends a very positive message to younger, more impressionable girls. Lori goes around wearing a bikini instead of her usual clothes and I really wish she hadn't, even though her job gave her enough reason to.
That aside though, Lori was a fantastic character. Not having any real experience in the boy department, she has no clue what she is really doing. Sean is older and all Lori has to go from is MTV, reality TV shows and girls magazines. Because of all of this, Lori is really funny in the ways that she tries to get Sean's attention. There is much more to Lori than just liking Sean though. She isn't full of herself or perfect and she has issues just like everyone else.
In order to get Sean's attention, his younger brother Adam and Lori come up with a pln to make him jealous. Obviously, the plan doesn't go exactly as they think it will or this would have been an extremely boring book. I loved Adam right from the start. He is sexy, sweet and obviously not like his older brothers. Adam also has ADHD which made him really interesting to read about. Having ADHD meant that Adam had little mannerisms that were different from anyone else's and it also affected how he acted.
The actual plot of the book was quite confusing at times due to the many schemes and lies along the way. However, I did like how Lori and Adam got to know each other properly in their fake relationship and to slowly see them change around each other. I would have liked for there to have been a little less about making so many people jealous but I understand why it was done this way.
The chemistry between Adam and Lori was amazing. Even though they weren't really together, they certainly had a lot going on between them. I loved the bantr that they had going because of them living next door to each other for so long but also how comfortable they were with each other. Echol's other books are pretty damn steamy and the same can be said for this one although it has been tamed down in comparison.
The Boys Next Door was exactly the kind of romance I was looking for and I'm glad I had the next book, Endless Summer, waiting for me.
Lori can't wait for summer because it means not only does she get to go wake-boarding every day but it also means she can legitimately spend time with her next door neighbours the Vader brothers, Adam and Sean, as she works at their store. Now that's she's turning 16, Lori has decided it's finally time to act on her crush on Sean and attempts to become more girly in a bid for him to notice her. Things don't go totally to plan, and Sean ends up dating Adam's girlfriend Rachel, so instead Lori comes up with a plan; she and Adam will fake-date each other in a bid to win the attentions of Sean and Rachel respectively. But does Lori really like Sean or will her closeness to Adam make her change her mind?
I've heard a lot about Jennifer Echols's books, all saying the same thing: that's she's a fantastic writer. I did a bit of research and Jennifer writes both romantic comedies and romantic dramas. I bought one of her romantic dramas a while back, Going Too Far, but haven't yet gotten around to reading it. I then saw she was bringing out a new romantic comedy, I'm a sucker for romantic comedies, and I learned that it included not one, but two books! It not only contained Endless Summer but it also has in the first book (Endless Summer is a sequel) The Boys Next Door. It also meant I was getting a 600-page book and I love large books so I pre-ordered it and awaited it's arrival. It arrived during the week and it's a larger book than I expected but I decided to read it because it sounded so so good!
The Boys Next Door isn't overly long, a mere 281 pages and I read it fairly quickly. Not only because of it's short length but because of how absorbing it is. The plot itself isn't exactly unique - girl likes boy, boy doesn't know girl, girl uses brother to help catch boy's attention - but the style of writing makes it unique. I don't know what it is but the writing was just so good and I found that I could barely put the book down because I wanted to know how it was all going to pan out. What was unique about the book is that most of the book revolved around wake-boarding and all manner of water-sports stuff. I'm not good in water, I can barely swim, never mind go wake-boarding but I lapped up everything Lori, her brother and the Vader brothers were doing because it sounded so fun.
I also liked that Lori had decided that at the age of nearly 16 it was time to stop being part of the boys' gang and become a girl in her own right. It's obvious from the off that Lori is far from being a girly girl but I loved the effort she put in in her bid to get Sean to notice her. Sean doesn't notice her - in fact, Sean decides to steal Adam's (his brother & Lori's best friend) girlfriend, Rachel, off him - and Lori comes up with the plan that she and Adam should pretend to date in a bid to annoy both Sean and Rachel. That brings up a new set of problems, as you could expect, and because Lori is rather clueless when it comes to boys, there's a chance it could all explode in her face.
One thing Jennifer Echols appears to excel at is making her characters - and their relationships - work. I loved Lori pretty much from the off. I'm a bit of a tomboy myself so I could totally relate to how she feels as being referred to as "one of the boys". I thought she was hilarious, and quick of the mark with some of her quips and one-liners. I also really really loved Adam, Lori's best friend and the youngest Vader brother. He just seemed, I don't know, different from the other brother's and his relationship with Lori seemed to flow so well that I couldn't help hoping Lori would just give up on Sean already. I must say I didn't much see the appeal of Sean, probably because I preferred Adam, so it made it difficult for me to understand what it was that Sean had over Lori. Yes, she has an explanation, but still, I just couldn't like Sean and I was just rooting for Adam throughout. There's a third Vader brother, Cameron, but he doesn't make many appearances, nothing of note anyway. The last person in their group is Lori's brother McGillicuddy (who is really called Bill, but McGillicuddy is Lori and Bill's last name and that's how he's known!). Like Cameron, McGillicuddy isn't totally important to the story but it's nice to have him there all the same.
I really loved reading The Boys Next Door, it was a quick and easy read and it had some fantastic characters. Yes, there was an ounce or two of predictability but most romantic comedies I read are filled with predictability, so what do I care as long as I enjoy it? And I did enjoy it, in fact I totally loved it and I can't wait to get stuck into it's sequel, as long as Lori manages to stay fantastic along with Adam and co, it can't go wrong! Please don't let the cover put you off either because you can just buy Endless Summer which has both books in and that also has a rather lovely summer-y cover!