FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours.
Series: Stupid in Love #2
Publisher: TKA Distribution on February 17, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Brax Jenkins and Olivia Beaumont are the most envied couple at Winston University—but the so-called “virginity dare,” orchestrated by Brax’s old fraternity, almost tore them apart. Now, a new dare is taking shape, and it’s sure to set emotions ablaze--more than ever before.
Winston’s “It Girl” Harper Belle isn’t just president of the Deltas--she’s also a master at keeping her ugly past a secret. So, when the Kappas’ dare hits closer to home for her more than anyone realizes, she devises a competition of her own as payback. Three sorority sisters will seek out a notorious womanizer on campus and--unbeknownst their “mark”--secretly train him to be the perfect boyfriend. Always up for a challenge, Harper targets the biggest player she can find: Brax’s wickedly handsome foster brother Kane McCarthy.
But, Harper discovers there’s much more to Kane than girls, games, and partying. His easy smile belies the quiet, old soul reflected in his deep brown eyes. All it takes is one night, one secret laid bare, and one kiss from Kane to shift Harper’s world on its axis. Suddenly, the girl who’s always walked a straight and narrow path can’t think of anything else except losing control.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Harper’s been playing a part for as long as she can remember, and to everyone around her, she comes across as nearly perfect. So when she suggests what she thinks will be an essentially harmless but pointed revenge on the cruelly mischievous fraternity across the street, her sorority sisters are quick to go along with it. But her chosen bad boy to be reformed isn’t what she expected, and before she knows it, she wants no part in any scheming that has him in the center. He seems to get her and get to her like no one else, and while she’s never really known any kind of happiness, when she’s around Kane, that light and fluttery feeling keeps rearing its head. But Kane’s got things to hide as well, and no matter what Harper had originally planned for him, she soon finds they have more in common than she ever expected.
It was certainly better than the previous book in the series, but this one still had some editing issues that jumped out at me. Instead of the weird misspellings, though, these were more along the lines of mixing up homonyms (rein/reign, riff/rift) and other things that your basic spell-check program doesn’t always catch, so really all that’s needed is a good line editor, and it’d be just about perfect.
Oh, and while I’m at it… Why did the detective show up? He had info on Harper’s parents’ case, but she apparently never followed up on it, so what was the point? It’s like someone decided to cut out a scene or two and forgot to delete his appearance.
While I had some issues with the first book in the series, none were really with the story itself, so I figured I’d give this one a shot. It was a lot heavier on the angst and past abuse angle than I expected, but it still turned out to be a pretty great read.
Harper has had an absolutely awful life. After the cops found her hiding in a cabinet days after her druggie parents were murdered, she was sent to live with her grandmother, a woman who was the very definition of evil. Harper was provided for on a rather luxurious scale, but the psychological abuse left invisible scars, and she’s spent most of her life in guilt and fear. She puts on a brave face at college, letting everyone think she’s the perfect student, perfect sorority president, and all around perfect girl. But she has only one real friend, and she hides her past in shame, always fearful that her grandmother will take away what little happiness she’s managed to grab onto.
Harper’s sorority is incensed by the antics of the frat across the street, the same frat that hurt Brax’s girlfriend Olivia and has since claimed another victim. In retaliation, Harper proposes that their sorority pull their own dare, but because they’re not into humiliating anyone, they go with picking three bad boys associated with the frat and reforming them. And that’s where Kane comes in.
Kane’s past is just as ugly, though in a completely different way. Horribly abused as a child, he was put into foster care when his father was sent to prison, and that’s where he met Brax. All grown up and responsible for himself and the sister he tried to protect so many years ago, Kane’s found his way to campus, and while Brax isn’t happy about Kane’s illegal gambling business, he hasn’t turned him away. Kane is incredibly perceptive, seeing something in Harper that tells him she’s not perfect; she’s broken like he is. Brax apparently sees the same thing, but he simply gives her space and looks out for her. Kane, however, is drawn to her, and even though he knows his time in Texas is only temporary, he can’t stay away.
Their romance is incredibly sweet, and I love that Kane isn’t your typical white knight. He’s just as damaged as she is, except he’s a bit more in control of his life, whereas Harper’s still reacting to the damage her grandmother has inflicted. But he’s patient and kind, and they’re able to trust each other with a few of their secrets. Harper’s growing feelings for Kane lead her to call off the dare, but things like that never do quite go away, do they?
I sort of expected the dare to be a main component of the story, but aside from initially bringing Harper and Kane together and later causing a rift, there was a lot more to the book than Greek life mischief. Harper was so closed off from everything and everyone that she didn’t win me over very quickly, but given her background, her behavior made sense. She wasn’t living; she was existing in survival mode, and it took someone who had an equally terrible past to bring her to life. The distancing she did made the chemistry between her and Kane feel a bit rushed, but I think I just loved Kane enough to buy into it. And fortunately, the angst wasn’t pushed too far toward the end; I think they’d both been through enough of that already, so the ways they reached out to each other even when it seemed things might be over were really great to read.
All in all, Stupid Boy is a really sweet love story, and while it can most definitely be read as a standalone, I would suggest reading Stupid Girl first, if for nothing else than to fall in love with Olivia and Brax.