Sunday, November 12, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid

***Proceeds during November go to hurricane relief efforts!***

Series: Dear Professor 
Genre: Contemporary Romance


What do you do when you discover that your super-hot blind date from months ago is now your super-hot Russian Lit professor?

You overthink everything and pray for a swift end to your misery, of course!


 ~Book Review~ 

2 Stars

Anna Harris, 21, lives a boring life for a college student. She’s afraid to take chances, and she’s losing opportunities in the process. Luca Kroft, 31, is the leather clad, motorcycle riding by Valentine’s Day/ suit and bowtie wearing professor by summer session man who shakes up her world.

Full disclosure: I was once in my life an English lit major. Russian classic literature was not my specialty though. None the less, I never met anyone in six years of university studies who fantasized about kissing these dead white guys. But the title is not to be taken quite literally.

I should also note that Anna isn’t a lit major; it’s just a fascination in her pastime. I’m rather thankful for that because I hate to think she was meant to be a stereotype of literature majors. The story plays strongly on certain literary works. I’ll admit it initially attracted me to the story. By half way through it was beginning to turn me off.

Anna is not my tastes for a modern heroine. She’s too jumpy (or as her friend aptly put it, “…you freaked out like a dork.”) and she overreacts to situations. For example, telling a guy (a ‘stranger’ as she stressed), who you are conversing with in a public place, that you have no siblings or that one of your parents passed away when you were little isn’t exactly confidential information sharing worth stressing over. Or bolting from the premises over. Nor is finding out that said guy (who you really shared no—nadda—intimate encounters with) is now your summer class professor something to cause your hands to shake and make you grip the desk. To her credit, she does acknowledge that she’s overreacting. But once again her instinct is to bolt. At only 13%, in I was starting to question if the heroine needed to see a shrink over the summer more than she needed this lit class.

Meanwhile, Luca’s sister accuses him of getting sucked in by the “broken bird” type (overly educated and delicate). To me, I couldn’t agree more that Anna fit the bill. (No pun intended). I suspect what follows is meant to convince readers that Anna has more spirit and passion, but it only makes her come off immature. And thus, Anna continued to frustrate me, choosing to take the easy way out while at the same time sulking when Luca behaved like the adult professional he was.
“Luca had omitted all personal and possessive pronouns referring to himself…”
Because he’s writing to her as her professor!!! I would hope that a man with a doctorate would be able to write a professional letter to his student…the same way an almost senior year undergraduate student should be able to figure that out!

At a certain point the story makes some valid points about the importance of critical thinking and supporting the arts. I’m behind that 100%. But the way classic literature operates in the story feels very heavy handed. In fact, I think the author got too hung up on it. Missing from this contemporary romance is better pacing (it drag and drags and then abruptly moves to an end); more character development from Luca (most of the story is told via Anna’s first person POV with only a few chapters from his); a bigger role from Luca’s family (who are hinted at having a significant role in his life); and their sex life (it doesn’t happen till the freaking epilogue!)

In the end, I still didn’t know what Luca saw in her, and I still wanted a better picture of him.


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