Fight or Flight
Maybe it’s appropriate to give a book called Fight or Flight an F. Although in this case, F is for Failure to be worth reading, Full of terrible tropes we should let die, and Frightfully hard to read. The book tricked me with the cutesy, cartoon cover and then delivered a story that was anything but fun. I love this new cover trend, I really do, but maybe if I had taken time to check out who the author was (I’ve heard a few things about her On Dublin Street) I might have been warned that I was not in for the light, modern rom-com I expected.
Where to begin? The book’s description will tell you “The universe is conspiring against Ava Breevort.” Let me correct that. Ava is annoying and insufferable and the sorts of things that happen in the course of everyday life turn her into a brat. Her flight has been delayed by acts of nature, which isn’t anyone’s fault, but she’s busy making it all about her when a man-brat comes in and takes the last first class seat on the plane she wants to catch. So now she hates him and he’s the worst person ever.
The jerk who literally shoves her out of the way and takes the last seat is a Scotsman named Caleb… Scott. And he talks like Jamie Fraser from Outlander, so it’s all “tae” instead of to and “aye” for yes. Apparently the author is Scottish but this came off so silly; I was expecting him to call Ava “Sassenach” and get it over with. He has a terrible attitude and shows no real redeeming qualities. For example, he’s at a meal with Ava and says he is rude to waitstaff because they’re doing their jobs do why should he need to be polite or friendly to them? He describes it as some crappy management technique to make people perform better but all I could hear was ‘get out of there!’ If I go on a date with a guy who is rude to the waiter and then brags to me about what a genius he is for being rude to the waiter, I’m walking out and deleting his number.
These two get off on the wrong foot because of Caleb shoving Ava out of the way for the plane ticket, then again over coffee. They bicker. They bicker again when they sit by each other on the plane. And then they never stop bickering. The book was somewhat readable at the start. I like enemies-to-lovers and I don’t might a little verbal sparring at the start, or a guy who seems like a jerk but comes back from it. The thing is, the fighting just keeps going. And going. The only time there’s a break in the fighting is for screwing – and given I still couldn’t stand either character that wasn’t going to do anything for me. I also want to point out that Ava is one of those women who is drooled over by every guy in the book and is hit on non-stop – yet has been celibate for seven years… until she meets Caleb and her panties melt off, of course. This trope makes me grind my teeth. The gorgeous girl with huge knockers who is the constant recipient of male attention but who keeps herself under a cloche jar until the hero charms her into bed point two seconds after they meet just makes no sense.
I want to share my throw-this-book-across-the-room moment, but I must point out that you may consider it a spoiler, so if you’re worried about that, stop reading now. I’m mentioning it, in spite of our usual avoid-spoilers rule because I consider it a huge, mega, ultra deal-breaker and I don’t know how I could fairly review this book without addressing it.
The second time Ava and Caleb have sex, (I think it’s the second time) they’ve previously had a discussion about protection and getting tested, and he says he’ll show her his paperwork to prove he’s clean. She’s on the pill (of course, in spite of being abstinent) so they say once they’ve done their due diligence they’ll go condom free. Rather than any of that happening, however, Caleb ignores Ava’s desire to use a condom and goes in without one. She tries to stop him and asks him (again) to get a condom. He ignores her – again. She is actually thinking to herself that he never showed her any test results like he promised and stops him and makes him pull out to get a condom, at which point he’s annoyed and harassed at her insistence. Then they both brush it off and go back at it.
So we have the ‘hero’ of this book actively ignoring the heroine’s request to use protection more than once, even after she withdraws her consent? Are you friggin’ kidding me? The F here is for Friggin’ kidding me.
I’m sorry, there’s a zero percent chance I’m going to like this dude after this. I kept reading and could not stop thinking about it, and how I would feel in that situation. I don’t find anything about this sexy or romantic.
I want to tell you it got better from here on – but I can’t. Caleb is plain awful. There’s plenty of shaming women, heavy topics that come as a surprise from the look and description of the book, and a general feel that sometimes enemies should just stay that way and be miserable alone, and not become lovers. This book is a mess. I don’t have an F word for ‘I don’t get what people see in this at all,’ but that’s how I feel.