Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina Lauren

Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina LaurenSweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #1
Published by Gallery on May 13, 2014
Pages: 385
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

Launching into Lauren’s second series, I’m met with the first book I wasn’t completely in love with. That’s not to say this book isn’t good or sexy or exactly on brand for Lauren; it just didn’t work for me as well.

As usual, Sweet Filthy Boy is well-written, and it tackles a new kink: role play. I even actually rather liked the way the book wrestled with the awkwardness of waking up married in Vegas but wanting to maybe give it a shot. Even with some optimism, going from single to married and living in Paris for the summer with your new husband is weird. Also, I liked that reminder that, even when it’s usually amazing, sex can be awkward and uncomfortable when your mind’s in the wrong space; you don’t see that a lot in romance novels.

However, Mia and Ansel never really clicked for me. They’re okay, but I don’t feel that intense chemistry between them. They’re sweet to each other and understanding, but I’m not really sure why they’re right for each other. Truly, even by the end, they don’t seem to know each other particularly well or have much of a connection outside the physical, which isn’t how even Beautiful Bastard or Beautiful Stranger felt, both relationships built solely on the physical intially.

Perhaps it’s the loss of the male POV. All of the guys in the Beautiful Bastard books had POVS, but Ansel does not. As such, I’m really not sure why Ansel wants to stay in this impromptu marriage or what’s in it for him. Like, Mia’s really not sure about it, but he’s all in from the very beginning, and I just don’t know why. The resolutions of the end didn’t satisfy my curiosity on that.

Fun and hard to put down like any Lauren novel, but this is the first one I didn’t ship.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina LaurenSweet Filthy Morning After by Christina Lauren
Length: 30 mins
Series: Wild Seasons #1.5
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Scribd

This audio exclusive short tells of events from Sweet Filthy Boy from a new perspective.

Despite my annoyance at Sweet Filthy Morning After being audiobook only, it was on Scribd, and I was curious about Ansel’s perspective on everything. Unfortunately, Sweet Filthy Morning After adds pretty much nothing. This chapter covers only the morning after, which I guess I should have guessed, but the description implied there might be a bit more. In that morning after, it still seems instalovey, and I still don’t understand why he wants to stay married. *sigh*

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina LaurenDirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #2
Published by Gallery on November 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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Despite their rowdy hookups, Harlow and Finn don’t even like each other...which would explain why their marriage lasted only twelve hours. He needs to be in charge and takes whatever he wants. She lives by the Want-something-done? Do-it-yourself mantra. Maybe she’s too similar to the rugged fisherman—or just what he needs.

Once again, Dirty Rowdy Thing is a well done book but with a ship I don’t really ship. It’s a bit frustrating given how much I shipped every ship in Beautiful Bastard. Still, I do love that all of their characters are so distinct and enjoy such different things. I just found it difficult to relate to these two or get why they’re perfect for each other.

Harlow and Finn are cute enough I guess, though admittedly the rope thing is a bit too intense for me. Also, I’m not into the typical controlling alpha male thing, and Dirty Rowdy Thing comes closest to that classic romance novel archetype here. Finn’s not quite that guy; he doesn’t do anything without consent, and he’s quiet and reserved. Still, he’s too much the one calling the shots in their sex life, which admittedly is balanced by Harlow’s bossiness otherwise. I get it, but I still don’t particularly like that. The other couples have balance both in the bedroom and out of it, but I don’t see that with Harlow and Finn. And I’m really tired of every couple breaking up for weeks to months before getting back together; there are other ways for romance novels to progress, I swear.

My favorite parts of this book all center on family, friendship, and their professions. There are nice ways that Harlow and Finn both turn out to be not what you really expect, which is good, but the secondary characters are my favorite. Lola and Oliver steal the show any time they’re on-page. Mia and Ansel continue to be nauseatingly adorable. Not-Joe’s weird and high af but kinda funny. Both Harlow and Finn have really sweet families, and I liked the focus on Finn’s life and family business at a crossroads. I can’t say I’m interested in fishing, but I found this story line very compelling.

A good book but a so-so romance. Unless these are tropes you’re into.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina LaurenDark Wild Night by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #3
Published by Gallery on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 341
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
But what didn't happen in Vegas seems to follow them everywhere.

Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense to not consummate their drunken Las Vegas wedding. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their Just Friends situation might not be half as great as it is now.

... Or so goes the official line.

In reality, Lola’s wanted Oliver since day one—and over time has only fallen harder for his sexy Aussie accent and easygoing ability to take her as she comes. More at home in her studio than in baring herself to people, Lola’s instinctive comfort around Oliver nearly seems too good to be true. So why ruin a good thing?

Even as geek girls fawn over him, Oliver can’t get his mind off what he didn’t do with Lola when he had the chance. He knows what he wants with her now ... and it’s far outside the friend zone. When Lola’s graphic novel starts getting national acclaim—and is then fast-tracked for a major motion picture—Oliver steps up to be there for her whenever she needs him. After all, she’s not the kind of girl who likes all that attention, but maybe she’s the kind who’ll eventually like him.

Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of us takes a great leap of faith. And sometimes a dark wild night in Vegas isn’t just the end of a day, but the beginning of a bright new life...

Yayyyyyy Lola and Oliver are so cute. I’m glad to have the full shippy fire back from Lauren again. I’m pretty sure this is the book that I was encouraged strongly to read (thanks, Katherine Locke!) that launched me on this journey, and 1) rec on point and 2) bless you.

Lola and Oliver have been so cute, and I’ve been waiting for this since they didn’t hook up in Vegas. Despite friends to lovers generally not being my favorite trope AND despite the fact that I usually don’t like romances where the people both already have feelings for each other, I shipped them from the start. There’s such a great slow burn here, and, unlike the prior couples, there’s a true emotional connection. They’re best friends who also happen to love each other but who don’t know that because they both have total poker faces.

Obviously, the nerdiness of this book is great. Oliver owns a comic book store, and Lola’s a comic book author. They have common interests to begin with, and they understand one another’s passions so incredibly well. There’s something to be said for someone who truly gets you, and, as an attempting writer, I love the thought of a partner who would no doubt be so good for idea-bouncing. There’s nothing better than a slow burn that takes advantage of the little moments, the cuddles and handholds.

The primary emotional arc is Lola’s. Oliver’s older, and he’s pretty calm and stable. Lola appears stable, but she’s a ball of anxiety and panic underneath. The more uncomfortable she is, the more she puts on a stern face, so often people have no idea. As success mounts, so does pressure, and Lola doesn’t know how to deal with all of it. Watching her spin out totally sucked, but it did feel really emotionally necessary, especially since the book is all about the importance of actually communicating, both details and feelings. And I like that Oliver too learns that waiting for her to come to him isn’t always the right answer; she has more work to do, but it’s not like he’s done absolutely everything correctly.

I’m not sure if this one knocks Ruby and Niall out of the favorite ship spot, but it was definitely one of my favorites, and I really loved that there was a much larger focus on Lola’s career than is often the case in Lauren’s books, especially since it was publishing-related.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Book Talk: Wild Seasons by Christina LaurenWicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #4
Published by Gallery on February 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

When three college besties meet three hot guys in Vegas, anything can—and does—happen. Book Four in the New York Times Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times book of the year that Sylvia Day called “a sexy, sweet treasure of a story”), Dirty Rowdy Thing, and Dark Wild Night.

For two people ambivalent about dating and love, they sure get naked around each other an awful lot . . .

London Hughes is very content to surf daily, tend bar, hang out with her group of friends, and slowly orient herself in the years after college. Everything’s going great and according to the non-plan.

But when a wave knocks her for a loop one morning, then Luke Sutter’s flirtatious smile knocks her for another that evening, she veers slightly off course…and into his path. Sure, he’s a total player, but the Why not—it’s only one night is a persistent voice in her ear.

For his part, Luke’s been on hookup autopilot for so long that he rarely ever pauses to consider what he’s doing. But after an amazing time with London, he realizes that he hasn’t been moving on from a devastating heartbreak so much as he’s been drifting to wherever—and whomever—the current takes him. With London he wants more.

Every relationship involves two people…plus their pasts. And as much as she enjoys her fling with Luke, when London learns about his past—more specifically, who’s in it—everything becomes the brand of complicated she strives to avoid. It’s up to Luke then to change some things in order to try and ensure he’s not something she’ll outright avoid as well.

Wild Seasons ends much like the Beautiful Bastard series, with two people on the periphery of the main cast falling in love. In both cases, my expectations were lower than usual but delightfully exceeded.

The titles of this series really annoy me. Well, no, the first two kind of fit, but Lola and Oliver aren’t defined by a Dark Wild Night, and neither London nor Luke is a Wicked Sexy Liar. Sure, it makes them sound dark and edgy, but they’re the least edgy books in the series. They’re also my favorites, and it’s a bit annoying that people might not pick them up thinking, as I did, that they’re not the sort of romance they want.

Anyway, surprisingly, I found myself actually liking Luke, who is, using their parlance, “a manwhore”. He hooks up with so many girls he can’t remember their names or faces sometimes. For all that, he’s not a bad guy, but he’s definitely a genuine player. It’s pretty common in romance to either have the renowned casanova type hero turn out to actually not be that way at all (See Beautiful BastardBeautiful StrangerBeautiful, Dirty Rowdy Thing) or to never really address it at all (see so much historical romance). I like that Luke really does have the life you see on the surface, and it’s this thing they actually deal with. There’s even a scene where he nervously gets tested for STDs, which is awesome because that would be a massive concern.

Going into the book, I knew nothing about Luke or London, but they both have really engaging voices. They bond well too, and I enjoyed the way the relationship began in a physical space but then dialed back, really taking advantage of the small touches and heated gazes. Excellent tension. Luke’s relationship with his family is part of what makes me really genuinely like him, and the epilogue scene is adorable. Also, super fucking grateful they didn’t have a breakup in the climax like all the rest.

The Not-Joe short story at the end was pleasant, though it mostly just made me wish for more. He’s an interesting character who grew on me a lot in this book, especially with the way he called his friends out for saying sexist shit. The novella just scratches the surface and doesn’t totally sell the romance with Perry. That said, I’m thrilled to have a couple with an older woman and younger guy, since most of the couples in this series have a guy 5-10 years older.

A solid ending to the series. As a whole, I preferred Beautiful Bastard, but I could see myself revisiting these too.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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