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Bliss is a drama student, but what else would you expect with a name like that? And yet, when we first meet her, I would never have guessed that was her major. She just doesn't seem the type. She's also not the type to pick up random men in bars, but that's exactly what she does as the book starts. It's her friend Kelsey's fault. She's determined to get Bliss out there, because that's not where Bliss normally is. About to graduate at the end of the year, Bliss has made it through college without one key college experience: sex. And it's time to change that.
Enter Garrick from stage left. Dashing good looks, of course. A passion for Shakespeare, naturally (so much so that he's reading in a bar, sitting alone having a drink). Oh, and unsurprisingly he's yakking away with a British accent. "Swoon" go the American audience. "Um, really?" go the British contingent. "Is that all it takes?" But that's beside the point. Garrick is a typical Englishman - you can tell from his typical English name, can't you? And Bliss is smitten.
They trot off home and things seem to be going well until, the morning after the night before, Bliss finds herself in class meeting her replacement professor. You can guess who it is. It's all very Season 1 Episode 1 of Grey's Anatomy, and in a good way. Cue embarrassment, secrets, lies, hidden encounters, misunderstandings and all the other essential ingredients of a Rom-com.
This is a book I was expecting to start with a bang (sorry!) and progress from there. The cover makes it look like the story will be hot, and the blurb does nothing to dispel this idea. One thing I appreciated was that there's nothing (much) wrong with Bliss. She's simply a 20-something virgin who is getting increasingly stressed about the situation, to the point that she wants, both literally and figuratively, to take the matter in hand. There's a great line where she says she wishes she could ditch her virginity without having to bother with the sex part, because it's the label more than anything that's getting on her nerves.
This is not an explicit book. In fact it's a bit of a prick-tease, and to quote Elvis I was after a little less conversation and a little more action. The illicit affair between student and teacher has been done many times, but remains popular because it's naughty and naughty sells, and yet here it didn't seem so. Perhaps because Garrick is quite young, and Bliss is almost out of uni, but it seemed like that was added in to add a bit of spice that ended up being quite mild. Nothing felt sordid or untoward. Any sneaking around was wishy-washy, and there was no real danger of them being caught or punished if so.
It wasn't a bad book. It was ok. But only ok. And based on the cover, and the blurb on the back, I wanted more. We don't learn much about Garrick, for example, apart from the fact he has a BRITISH ACCENT (capitalisation all Bliss's) probably because Bliss doesn't learn all that much more about him. I also couldn't take Bliss seriously with a name like that, though I suppose it could have been worse had she been called Heaven with all the cringe worthy puns on him being 'in Heaven' etc etc.
Aimed at a New Adult audience I think this one will do well, but unlike many I don't think it's a book that will also reach out and grab adult readers. It's a bit silly, a bit fluffy around the edges, to be taken seriously. And, rather like my feelings for Bliss in places, I was left wishing it would grow up a bit and start having some proper fun.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
Out now in paperback