How to Seduce a Bad Boy
Any book reviewer will tell you that ‘meh, it was okay’ books are the hardest to write about. It’s easy to gush about a really great book, or complain about the ones that get you in knots, but when a book is decent but not overly memorable it’s a challenge. How to Seduce a Bad Boy has a promising synopsis – town librarian wants to catch the eye of the resident playboy, a returned army vet, hoping he’ll help her lose her pesky virginity. The result? Meh, it was okay.
Melody Bryant is tired of being asked by the folks in her small town when she’s going to ‘get married and have babies’. She’s tired of being single, and passed over, and most especially of being a virgin at twenty-four. The one man she’d hoped would help with this problem eight years earlier when she’d propositioned her high school crush, turned her down. But he’s back now and this time, she’s not going to give up so easily.
Adam Foster has returned from two tours of duty and started an auto repair shop with some mutual friends, including James Bryant, Melody’s older brother. James is still overseas but due to end his tour of duty soon, and has asked Adam to keep an eye on Melody until he returns home. That part’s easy. The hard part is when Melody comes to Adam asking if he’ll help her ‘ruin’ her prim and proper reputation. Adam may be interested in Melody but his promise to his friend comes first, no matter how tempting she is. Can Melody convince him otherwise?
I’ve always been a fan of ‘best friend’s sibling’ trope stories, though I didn’t realize at the outset that this would be one of those since it’s not mentioned in the blurb. However, there’s a caveat to that, a personal revelation that I had while reading this story. I like stories where a girl has a brother who wants to date her friend. Why? Because she’s generally adult about it, and for the couple in question there’s a lot of underlying sexual tension that gets resolved. On the other hand, when a guy has a sister interested in his friend, there’s an annoying trend to have the guy threaten the friend that his sister is off-limits. Unfortunately this attitude – that the girl needs to be protected from the friend – pervades this particular story from beginning to end. Adam feels guilt about his attraction to Melody, and his ‘betrayal’ of James, and James acts like an ass when he discovers that Adam and Melody have been spending time together.
Compound that with the improbable (to me) plot that after eight years apart, Melody would feel comfortable going to her one time crush and asking him to help her with a makeover (literally hair, makeup, clothing) to become more attractive to men like himself. Adam reacts the same way I did – what? Why wouldn’t you ask your girlfriend to help you with this? He turns her down, but then decides it’s his duty to help her and suddenly he’s sitting at the salon while she gets her hair cut and escorting her on practice dates, while trying to keep his attraction to the new Melody under wraps. There’s some contradictory behavior on his part – on the one hand he scolds her for wearing a short dress that attracts male attention in public (hello, misogyny much?), while on the next page he thinks that she’s allowed to wear anything she wants and that it’s men who are the jerks. To his credit, he thought she was beautiful before and the makeover doesn’t change that, though he appreciates that her self-confidence grows with her new look and the new (though jealousy inducing) male attention.
From then on the story proceeds fairly predictably. Melody and Adam spend time together, during which they get to know each other as adults. The author does a good job making Adam’s service time in Afghanistan believable in that he discusses the good and the bad parts and has some acute and interesting observations. There are girlfriend scenes for Melody and her friend Lilly, and Adam has some heart-to-hearts with his co-workers. There’s also a fun traditional Mexican wedding that they attend for Adam’s friends Miguel and Camille.
As for other family members besides James, Melody’s parents had treated Adam better than his own parents when he was growing up so he’s comfortable with them and joins them for Sunday dinners like he used to. Her parents are both supportive of her makeover and any other choices she makes, though they seem oblivious to the tension between her and Adam. The story has some make-out scenes but it’s a closed door romance so full sex scenes are not described (though they do occur, ending Melody’s original plight). James’s return causes a host of problems for them (as expected) and puts the onus on Adam to choose between new lover and old best friend. There’s a sweet happy ending once all is said and done, and some open plot threads for other relationships to build on as the series continues. Fans of small town romances who don’t mind the annoying older brother routine may find this one to their liking.