Tuesday, August 25, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Pledge by Laura Ward & Christine Manzari

Taren needs a do-over. She’s decided the best way to put the high school bullies behind her is to pledge a Taylor-Swift-lip-syncing, beer-guzzling, sorority. Sisterhood helps Taren find the acceptance she’s always craved, but not the love she needs.

Alec wants freedom. To escape his father’s iron fist and unrealistic expectations, he pledges a campus acrobatics club where he finds that drugs and alcohol aren't the only ways to get high. His addiction to danger helps him gain his independence, but it comes at a heavy price.

When the two cross paths, Alec fears his undeniable attraction to the party girl just might threaten everything he's worked so hard to earn. Taren hasn’t forgotten that Alec humiliated her back in high school, but she also can't deny the chemistry they share.

Alec and Taren have nothing in common, but fate is bound and determined to bring them together. They know falling in love is a risk, and yet it’s too hard to ignore. When their worlds clash and they both end up suffering, will they fight to stay together? Or are some pledges too hard to keep?

~Book Review~
3 Stars

Taren Richards had a rough high school experience, bullied and treated like the class geek. Alec Hart was the popular guy, and when he had the chance to lift Taren up, he really left her down.  As a result, what started as a friendship/crush turned into enemies with disdain. Seeing each other again at college is the last thing either of them want until it stirs up latent feelings that become too hard to deny.

The story has an interesting premise. A mix of second chances, opposites attract, and friends-to-enemies-to-lovers.  It’s told via Taren and Alex’s alternating first person point of view so you’re never lost or out of the loop on how either are feeling. That’s helpful because there is a lot of misunderstanding going on between these two.

But first the characters are developed quite separately.  Honestly, I think it would have packed more of a punch to their character development if it had included chapters from their high school years instead of their early college days when they weren’t interacting. The romantic pacing on this one felt off. There was a lot of time spent in the beginning with them getting to know other people and establishing their separate college lives that only occasionally cross paths.  Considering their complicated past, I really felt this time could have been better spent with them reconnecting. Instead, during the first part of the book, they have make-out sessions with other people—that was a turnoff even though they were still in separate worlds and really weren’t attracted to these people that they seemed to think they should be.

This left me really frustrated with Taren as it portrayed her as naïve and in need of a backbone.

Taren was supposed to be really smart, but she did really dumb things. And while the authors did a good job depicting the sometimes immature nature of this age group, it didn’t exactly endear me to the supporting characters and especially the sorority. It definitely wasn’t my thing in college, and Taren’s behavior and some of the people she hung out with (hated Julie!) was a perfect example of why—lots of shallow commitments, creepy frat boys, and the drunken party scene. While this was supposed to be a venue for Taren to gain self-confidence from, it really just made her immature. One minute Taren was complaining that Alec didn’t take her out on romantic dates and then the next minute she couldn’t break drinking night plans with her sorority sisters and then expected him to not have a life.  I had trouble seeing what Alec saw in her aside from physical beauty.

Alec, on the other hand, matured to be a pretty decent, hard-working guy.  He was busting his butt to be independent and true to the things he believed in while not being able to catch a break.  I really felt bad for him. He seemed like such a good guy and many times I doubted that Taren was worthy of him.

If you like sufficient angst and a strong coming-of-age plot, then you'll probably like this one. While I typically enjoy new adult romance, this one just wasn't my style. I personally am not a fan of angst and like to see more romantic build-up with the romance front and center rather than the struggles of the heroine to mature so the story frustrated me at various places. With Taren and Alec being so different I really craved more of a “show” rather than “tell” of why they felt so connected as well as Taren getting her act together. The ending has a pleasant twist though that pulls together a theme throughout. 

First in the stand-alone College Bound series. Next book to feature one of the supporting characters, Taren’s roommate. 


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