book cover for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols | Magan Reviews

book cover for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols [twitter | website]
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 336
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: opposites attract, yearbook superlatives, sexual high school relationships
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Brody and Harper are chosen by their classmates as the “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for their high school yearbook superlative photo. Several failed attempts to take the photograph provide opportunities to escape their significant others to spend time together and leave them questioning why: Why their classmates chose them. Why they never got together before.

• • •

We’ve reviewed quite a lot of Jennifer Echols’ work here on Rather Be Reading. Her work has been something we’ve really enjoyed, but it’s something we’re both feeling a bit disconnected from lately. I decided I would give things another go with Perfect Couple, really hoping that whatever was missing from the previous books had been found again.

But I don’t really feel that way. The story lacked a believable timeline and was peppered with abrupt, out-of-nowhere sexual scenes as an attempt to make readers forget their reading woes. Decisions were made just as quickly and emotions changed with the wind. I felt jerked around and really, really wanted to enjoy Perfect Couple more because I did quite like Brody and Harper. Their story just had a few too many gaping holes to really tie everything together well.

Harper and Brody are chosen by their classmates as the school’s “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for the class yearbook. Brody is an all-star quarterback. Harper is more of the artistic type. He’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader, Grace, and she’s in a relationship with Kennedy, a jerk who demeans her and treats her like utter crap. (And is incredibly moody/PMS-y…all the time.) Both are left to wonder why their peers would have paired them together. What do they see that Brody and Harper may have overlooked?

Despite ties to their significant others, Harper and Brody find themselves drawn to one another. Often very inappropriately and with little regard to boundaries if you know what I’m saying. (If you’re not one for a cheating book, you may want to steer clear. Though I couldn’t stand Kennedy, my moral compass was screaming at their indiscretions.)  The thing is I DID root for Brody and Harper to be together; the whole opposites attract thing was very appealing. But maybe I’m a traditionalist and think that there’s a time and place for all things, and I just really wish they would have slowed down and handled things respectfully.

It’s quite possible I would have enjoyed Harper and Brody’s story more if there had been more of a slow build, if they really worked to get to know one another, and if the tension has simmered just a little more. Or maybe I didn’t connect because I have aged out of Echols’ work? I probably would have given them the stink eye more than once because their fleeting decisions made little sense to me and there was so much back-and-forth I want him, I don’t want him, I want him. The bandaid was ripped from my reading-skin a few too many times, leaving me feeling very unattached and without much left to adhere to afterward. My recommendation if you’re in the mood for a great, steamy Echols’ read is to revisit Such a Rush.

Have you ever felt like you’ve aged out of an author’s work, or
have you ever significantly changed your opinion of an author’s work?

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Estelle: First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

First Comes Love by Katie KacvinskyFirst Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Children
Pages: 198
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: summer, opposites attract, first love, Arizona
Format read: Borrowed from the library.

Summary: Gray never thought he would be hanging out, much less falling for, Dylan, a quirky girl in town for the summer who enjoys photographing geckos and naming everything she comes across (her freckles, her car, her slippers). For Gray, she’s a breath of fresh air and for Dylan, Gray is a challenge — someone who needs to break down the walls he’s built.

I know the cover of this book is very dramatic and sensual (and gee — can we stop with these kissing covers, please??) but wow, this book was seriously uplifting, adorable and funny, and completely lyrical.

After reading Katie Kacvinsky’s Awaken and knowing how her sometimes dense description caused me to gloss over passages, I was worried about this happening again. But the author filled First Comes Love with crisp description (there were a lot of scene changes) and this natural flow between two people who were connecting with one another.

Dylan was just about one of the most original characters I have ever come across. She’s so incredibly free spirited and optimistic and selfless. I found myself jealous of her, to be honest. I wished that I could be so inhabited and not worry so much about others thought of me. I mean, gosh, I would have wanted to spend a whole summer with her going on random adventures and listening to her crazy stories and answering her questions.

And I was so glad that Gray gave her a chance. Life had been pretty rough since tragedy rocked his home, which felt even emptier than it should with his mom always off to bed early and his dad away on business trips. Gray himself gave up a baseball scholarship to stay home and watch over his family, but, instead, it was like he was floating and not living much at all.

Dylan sensed something was up with Gray. She never pushed, never overdid it. She managed to distract and open him up at the same time. And I liked that the author gave one of the characters this tough backstory but allowed Dylan to have an average upbringing (even if she wanted to live like a gypsy, as my grandma would say). And tell me why every time I read about a brooding, trouble male character I picture Channing Tatum? Because he was so Gray to me!

And the romance? Slow and steady, organic, hold your breath, fall over yourself goodness. Dylan and Gray knew each other for a short period of time but their relationship is so convincing and genuine; Kacvinsky intertwined both the lightheartedness of love and the more serious moments in such a true way. I could not get enough. (I also couldn’t stop snapping pictures of passages I absolutely adored.)

First Comes Love shared a story of healing, opening yourself up to all the world’s possibilities, making choices, and the utter excitement and giddiness and uncertainty of getting to know someone and falling so hard… you can’t get up.

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P.S. Kacvinksy did self-publish a sequel to First Comes Love that can be downloaded from Amazon as well: Second Chance.