Friday, August 23, 2013

{Dane #Review} New Adult Contemporary: By Referral Only by Lyla Payne

Series: Whitman University #2
Genre: New Adult
Format: PDF
Length: 290 pages
Publisher: Lyla Payne (June 28, 2013)

After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.

Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.

When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.

Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.

As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes.

He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough.

Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.

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Ruby Cotton is a girl who has decided that she isn't looking for a serious relationship. Being burned before means that she's determined to seek out fun and easy flings. The implication, I suppose, being that relationships are neither easy (true) nor fun (not true). To this end, she's avoided all of the guys that go to her hoity-toity university full of rich pretty kids that have never had to work for anything in their lives--and who apparently look down their noses are her, since her family is "new money"--and instead decided that her acting partner is the best choice to fit her "fun and easy" needs.

More power to the girl! Personally it's nice to see a heroine at this age that is firmly taking control of her sexuality.

Or it would be, except her reasoning behind her decision is kind of difficult to get behind.

Ruby hates it when people make assumptions about her (especially when those assumptions are linked to her family's new-money status), and yet she freely makes assumptions about everyone left and right. Her freshman-year boyfriend dumped her because his parents didn't approve of her--she presumes. From that experience, she has decided that every guy at her university will behave in the same manner. It's a perfect representation of once burned, twice shy.

Since she's decided her soul mate can't exist on school grounds, she seeks out a fun, sex-only relationship with her acting costar. And here's where my belief in her logic takes a bit of a nosedive. Because if she only wants fun sex times, you'd think she wouldn't hang around with a guy who is so…bad at it.

Patience of a saint, this girl.

Meanwhile, Ruby has decided that the guys of her university are far too complacent with their romancing skills, and so she sets up an anonymous website where girls can submit ratings and indicate if they'd refer an ex to another girl. And this is where the hero of the story comes in.

Cole Stuart is honest-to-goodness Scottish royalty, and he pursues Ruby with a determination that is sweet and, I'll be honest, oftentimes baffling. Ruby is consistently prickly and defensive around him…not to mention has a tendency to jump to weird conclusions. At one point she accuses Cole of only coming after her because he wants her to remove his bad ratings from the site…because he'd somehow figured out that she was the one running it. It's a giant leap that pulled me right out of the story.

There were quite a few instances where I stopped reading and had to rant to my cat about the way that Ruby was acting, or the bullshit she was willing to take. She didn't feel consistent, and in the end it meant that I never really connected with her, because I couldn't be sure how she'd react. I felt a stronger connection to Cole, though he was written very much like a too-good-to-be-true hero. Even his great flaw, the reason that he got so many bad reviews, is something that leaves you feeling sympathetic.

In the end, I felt like Ruby was a study in contradictions, and her growth from who she was at the start versus who she became at the end felt uneven. In several spots I asked myself why Cole was even interested in Ruby, considering some of the things she did or said. Her issues with dating rich guys, the manner in which she overcame her hesitation, the resolution of her issues with Cole, all felt very much as if I was being told, rather than shown. My experience with the book suffered for it, and in the end, while I loved the premise, I couldn't love the book itself.

Favorite Quote:
"Thistles are prickly, but beautiful. They were chosen as a symbol of defiance."
"You think I'm prickly and defensive?"

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