BOOK REVIEW – Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren LayneGood Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2)
by Lauren Layne
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Synopsis:

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Prejudices. We all have them.

We can deny it all we want, and perhaps you’re Mère Thérésa, but I’m not free of them. That doesn’t mean that I’m judging people according to them, and I mentally slap myself more often than not, but they exist. I started this novel with a shit tons of them : I’ve read many reviews for Good Girl in the past year and apart from a selected few (yes that’s you Chelsea, yes you were right, alright alright alright), they made me expect an awful male-lead, a doormat heroine and an ill-conceived plot.

So you can imagine my shock when I realized that… It wasn’t what I was getting. Far from it, actually.

Prejudices. Both Noah and Jenny are full of them.

“I deserve nothing less than a slap right now, and I’m well aware of it.”

– Noah Maxwell, ladies and gentlemen!

Seriously though… Noah’s not the Bluebeard I expected? At all? Flawed as hell and absolutely infuriating, sure, prejudiced and sometimes mean-spirited, but that doesn’t mean he’s a complete asshole. God, I’ve read far, far worst and these pricks were competing for the book boyfriend of the year on here. Noah’s not even really mean. The most horrible things come out of his mouth, especially in the beginning, that I’ll gladly admit, but he’s aware that he’s going too far and he apologizes? So? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that he’s my type, but come on now. He calls himself on his shit. How is he different from say, Josh from I’ll Meet You There, who was beloved by so many?

Plus he calls double-standards out, and that’s still way too rare for me so excuse me if I wanted to high-five the guy. He might be kinda hot too, but don’t take my word on it (he totally is).

Also, why nobody told me that Jenny was able to hold her ground? The girl’s no damsel in distress.

“You know that feeling you get sometimes? Well, okay, rarely. That feeling when you meet a stranger’s eyes and something inexplicable and intense sizzles between you?
That.
That’s what happened between me and Noah Maxwell, at least on my end.
And then…
And then he had to go and open his mouth.”

See, to some extent, I understand why many readers dismissed her as a doormat, because she’s easy-going and oddly persistent in her quest to see the good in Noah. Yet she respects herself. She puts a stop to their interactions when he’s being a jerk. She doesn’t let go of her desires, whether sentimental or professional. Why are we so ready to dismiss strength when it’s not expressed in the way patriarchy taught us it should be? There’s endless strength in optimist and kindness, and one does not need to fit a certain mold to be strong, dammit. I love a kickass female-lead as much as the next person, but that does not mean that we don’t need to see different portrayals of women.

“Her gaze narrows slightly, and I expect her to get pissy that I’ve just outed our sexual status in front of Finn, but instead she leads forward, running a nail down the front of my shirt. “I think we’re a little confused about who seduced whom, princess.”

As it is, I could never find in me to despise her. She’s way too likeable for that.

Now, as I’m sure you know, there’s a difference between not hating and loving. There’s nothing groundbreaking in Good Girl and as often with contemporary romances, I have a hard time giving 3+ ratings out because I feel like I’ve already read a version of them a million times already. So, what does it take to go to 4 stars?

1) Hilarious internal monologues and well-written dialogues, which are Lauren Layne‘s biggest strengths – as are her final grand gestures, just admit it already.

2) The dog! I wholeheartedly recommend the dog. Dolly was perfect to diffuse the tension, because how am I supposed to go all angsty-angsty when I’m laughing out loud at the dog’s antics? Huh? More seriously, it’s so rare for a pet to feel like a real character, fleshed-out and not merely a bone thrown here and there. Trust me, you cannot forget that Dolly’s here, all the way, and that was so damn refreshing!

3) The chemistry, and how much the author makes me root for the characters : for a long time, that’s where the story fell short for me. I could feel Noah and Jenny’s attraction, I wasn’t bored, but it was certainly lacking something for me to believe in their connection. I didn’t quite understand what they saw in each other, and during the first half, on that aspect Good Girl missed the mark for me, keeping my rating at a 3 : I enjoyed my read all right, but it wasn’t enough. The sex scenes were hot, the banter was fun, but I wanted more. If Jenny’s life interested me, I sure didn’t care about Noah’s whatsoever, except for his friendship with Finn. It didn’t help that I found the plot points regarding his ex-fiancée completely unnecessary. However, it did get better : I thoroughly enjoyed the last 30% and that’s why I’m rounding up my rating to 4 stars ; both Jenny and Noah took my breath away and made me smile so big I can’t ignore it. I read the last scenes clutching my kindle, grinning like a maniac, and now that’s what I want when I read romance novels.

► I’ll get more of that, now and thank you. Flaws and all.

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