Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Foreplay by Sophie JordanForeplay by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Ivy Chronicles #1
Published by William Morrow on November 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: YA Books Central
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Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs. 

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…

Well, here I am again. I fell for the hype and came out a black sheep. As much as I don’t like the existence of New Adult as a classification, I am totally up for books about people transitioning into adulthood. As such, I keep hoping that the age classification will produce books that will actually cover that time of life and its issues, rather than just being a garden variety romance novel that makes sure to indulge in every trope possible. Foreplay is not that book. There’s nothing original or out of the standard NA package here.

I should have known better. I admit that freely. If only I read book blurbs, I wouldn’t have trusted the hype, because experience has told me that characters named things like Pepper and Reece in a contemporary novel will never end well. The heroine, Pepper, is a virgin in her sophomore year of college. She studies hard and disdains partying. Though she attends a prestigious ivy college, she’s had a hard knock life, basically raised at her grandmother’s retirement village.

Pepper annoys me greatly. For one thing, I don’t like the virgin-shaming that happens towards her character. Her friends Emerson and Georgia encourage her to get out there, and approve of her scheme to hook up with a random guy before making a move for the guy she actually wants. Meanwhile, all the girls subtly slut shame one another. Now, I don’t mind the occasional “skank” between friends, as long as everyone knows it’s a joke and the love is obvious, but these characters are so flat. They’re nothing but vehicles of slut-shaming and virgin-shaming. That is not okay.

Is it too much to ask for the friends in new adult novels to actually be friends? I’m all for sex in novels and in life, but only if the people involved truly want to have it and understand the choices they’re making. Friendship isn’t urging your friend to hook up with some playboy she doesn’t know just so she can check off some list and be more appealing to the guy she actually wants. This premise is so creepy and uncomfortable. I could see it if Hunter, Pepper’s dream man, hadn’t just become available, but why go after someone else when the target is in her sights? Plus, the “friends” completely disappear as soon as the romance starts up. They’re around only to push Pepper to go out to the bars, drink alcohol, and dress sexier.

The writing in the book is passable, but incredibly cliched. The attempts at banter fall flat, due to the lack of a real personality in the characters. The romantic lines are hackneyed. The descriptions of sex gave me major deja vu to the repetitive descriptions from the romance novels I read obsessively when I was a teen.

Mostly, Foreplay isn’t terrible. It’s tepid. It’s unoriginal. It’s exactly the same as a hundred other books. Where romance novels have the chance to really shine is in the characterization. The reason to care about the outcome isn’t the plot or the world building; it’s the ship, and to care about a ship, you need to not only care about the love interests but also feel a connection between them. For me, that connection needs to be more than just sexual, which, sadly, this doesn’t seem to be.

Where I am giving some points to this book is Reece. He’s actually a nice guy. He has tats and piercings, but he’s not remotely a bad boy. He’s sweet and respectful of Pepper’s boundaries. While he is aggressive, he never tries to force her into anything. When he feels jealous, he usually keeps that to himself, since he knows he and Pepper aren’t in a relationship, but, if he lashes out, he apologizes sincerely. As NA heroes go, he’s a pretty good one.

However, they really just didn’t have anything but a sexual connection. Rather than discussing their interests or anything, they do trade their stories of why they’re broken. Because of course they’re both broken from childhood abuse, since otherwise this couldn’t be a new adult novel, right? “You’re broken? Me too! Obviously we’re perfect together. And now we never need therapy because of the healing powers of simultaneous orgasms.” No, genre. No.

Like the attempts at dark pasts, the love triangle is also half-assed. There’s no attempt made to show why Pepper was so into Hunter, and she’s so obviously bored by him (even she knows this), but she drags the stupid thing out for about a month. And then THAT ENDING: View Spoiler » My brain, it melts a little.

If the standard new adult romance formula works for you, that’s great. You will love this. It’s frankly not my thing, and I thought the dialog and characterization was much better in the self pub offerings by Lyla Payne and Gennifer Albin.

Favorite Quote: Did not have one.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


6 responses to “Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan”

  1. Bound With Words says:

    I laughed so loud on the spoiler tag!

  2. I’ve been curious about this book for awhile, but I have also been really hesitant. I really dislike books with virgin-shaming (and slut-shaming, too, of course) and I was afraid that there might be some of that in Foreplay, which it seems there is.

    Also, I just don’t’ like love triangles, half-assed or not. I read the spoiler, and I’m even more sure that this book is not for me. And i love the romance genre, but this is definitely not for me.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: The MacGregor Brides by Nora RobertsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It wasn’t the worst for shaming, but it was definitely present. In some ways, I think how casual it was is almost more pernicious, because a lot of people won’t even notice.

      There are so many better romance books out there. Read those instead. You’ll be glad you did, I’m sure.

  3. Gillian says:

    Gillian recently posted…Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2014My Profile

  4. Goddamn. I was still kind of aiming to check this out sometime because for the most part I’ve been enjoying New Adult this year, but errrrrrrrrr. It sounds so cliché and annoying and THAT SPOILER TAG. Yeahhhhh, I think I’ll pass. But maybe try one of the others in the series? I liked Sophie Jordan’s ability to write chemistry in Uninvited, so I dunno.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Ship-Defining Quotes – a.k.a. ASDFJKL; MY FEELSMy Profile

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