Monday, September 23, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Busting Up The Bad Boys' Bet by V.B. Law

3 Stars (4 Stars for the beginning/2 Stars for the end)

Ally Thompson, 17/18, is the new girl at school and the latest target of Brad Sullivan and his friends Taylor and Scott’s bed-the-girl bet. But where others have fallen prey to their charms, Ally has their number.

This hooked me from the very beginning, and it started out as strong as the heroine. Right off the bat, Ally wowed me as a breath of fresh air in the romance genre. Not only was she NOT a doormat, sheltered, virgin, but she was intuitive, well grounded, mature, and confident.
 “If they insisted I wear a porno costume to school, I was going to flaunt it.”
She was also pretty kick ass.
“I scowled, brought my hand down to his crotch, and squeezed, aiming to crack a nut.”
At the same time, I admired Ally’s ability to make friends with everyone, and thus the story seemed to develop people as people rather than teens as their social stereotypes. It also includes a few characters/scenes that helped it avoid the slut-shaming plague that too many romances fall prey to. There were also some really good reminders about growing up and evolving.
“Because we are still figuring out who we are. We’re changing, growing, making mistakes, learning from them, having new experiences, and our brains are maturing. We don’t make the best decision at this age. We won’t be set in who we actually are as people until after college, after we face the real world for the first time.”
I was getting really impressed with this girl.

So for a while I truly enjoyed the tale, and it kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next as Allie kept everyone on their toes.

Though the romantic elements were mostly flirtations and suggestions at this point, I had hope it was building up to some stronger romantic connections as Allie got to know the guys better.  But then Brad kept coming on so strong and eventually I started to feel like the situation/set-up was weighing Ally down. Instead of being the rebel and nonconformist, she began to just slip into normal high school life as the story began to lose its New Adult edge in favor of a more Young Adult drama.  There’s prom and graduation—all the typical senior stuff that wasn’t as engaging as the earlier chapters.  

The other disconnect I felt with the story was the rich kid angle. Every kid’s parents seem to just let them do what they want. To say that the entitled vibe was strong would be an understatement. And it didn’t do Brad any favors.  There’s just a few too many times that I couldn’t help picturing him as the spoiled rich boy who becomes a pest because he can’t grasp that not everyone adores him or because he doesn’t get what he wants.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Princeton thing went too far.  Like I was starting to root for Brad’s father to be busted in a college admissions scandal!

Not to mention that it seriously irked me how all the men (Ally’s dad, Brad, and Brad’s father) flexed way too much control in where Ally attended college. The way they stuck their nose up at NYU just seemed snobbish.

I also grew frustrated with Allie’s dad and her friends when they were too invested in her relationship with Brad. (I know, I know, it’s high school but they all needed to back off.) And this leads me to the paranormal aspect. Full disclosure, while I can appreciate a really intriguing ghost story, I’m not a fan of interpreting unusual or unexplained phenomenon that likely has a scientific or psychological explanation as omens or signs. As a way to make important decisions and lead your life it’s just silly and reckless. So the whole Daniel thing by the end was…Well too much for me.

And while in the first half or more I never got a troublesome love triangle vibe, later on… well I was starting to have a favorite and it wasn’t Brad. And at the same time, I really didn’t believe Ally was in love with Brad or any of them. Brad, on the other hand, seemed to confuse infatuation with love.  I came to the conclusion that she’d be better off going to college anywhere but Princeton and finding a new love interest all together.  And I didn’t for the life of me understand why a sensible and smart girl would get trapped into all the high school drama, especially after they graduated. She had her entire college years ahead of her and enough money to do anything she wanted. Getting tied down and trapped with a guy like Brad was just mind-boggling.

So by the first epilogue I was pulling my hair out. Only a jerk like him would even go about something like that. And only a girl who really wasn’t in love with the guy she was with for that many years would need that type of a situation to commit. And the second epilogue…forget it.

Overall, this had a fun, feel-good start that was relatively low angst, but as the story progressed it lost its appeal turning teen angsty and depressing. A lot of potential, but the romance lacked.


*I volunteered to review this ARC from the author. All reviews written by Book-Bosomed Book Blog are honest opinions. 

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