(NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, as part of PLL’s Teen Trendsetter Program. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: The Studio, a Paper Lantern Lit Imprint
Age Group: YA / NA (Characters are NA age but the entire book reads like YA)
Genres: Contemporary, romance
Pages: ??? (around 300 in my copy)
Format/Source: eARC, Received from publisher via Netgalley for PLL’s Trendsetter Program (Thanks, PLL!)
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
Rating: 3/5 Stars
The first rule of seduction is: don’t fall in love.
Fresh out of college, Dani Young heads for the LA sun to chase her dream of becoming a screenwriter-director. So when her former BFF turned actress Elise offers Dani the opportunity to work on the hit teen show Vamp Camp, Dani can’t refuse, even if it comes at a price: Elise wants Dani to seduce her boyfriend, Vamp Camp superstar Tate Lawrence. Turns out Elise has some major trust issues, and needs Dani to test Tate’s faith. The only rule: don’t fall in love with him.
Sure, Dani doesn’t mind occasionally glimpsing Tate’s megawatt smile…or accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against his perfect torso…but she’s no fool. There’s no way she’d ever fall for a shallow celebrity and no way one would fall for her, a lanky movie nerd.
But amidst vampire-crazed fans, a conniving fellow intern, and a devilishly handsome showrunner, Dani feels like all the rules she used to know have disappeared, except for one: Love doesn’t play by the rules.
A fun read that ultimately had too many flaws to really sit well with me.
So this book is way, way out of my typical comfort zone. I don’t tend to read a) cute contemporaries or b) Hollywood romances, and this is both. But after discovering Dahlia Adler’s thoroughly fabulous cute-contemporary-slash-Hollywood-romance Behind the Scenes last year, I figured maybe it’d be good to venture out of my comfort zone once in a while. (My comfort zone basically consists of a few things: 1) MAGIC. 2) Politics. 3) Powerful women. 4) Fight scenes. 5) MAGIC.) I decided I’d give this book a chance despite my low expectations, because sometimes that works out really well for me.
What I got was something that didn’t exactly blow me away but still put a smile on my face. What I got was a pick-me-up that maybe was what I needed at the time. What I got was Rules of Seduction.
(I think I’ll go ahead and discuss the positive points first and then go into the not-so-positive ones.)
The strongest point of Rules of Seduction was undeniably the narrative voice. It’s relatable, it’s snappy, it’s funny, and it reads like lightning. I could sprint through this book, pretty much, and it was very freeing to be able to read through something so quickly. I think one of my favorite parts of delving into contemporary is that there is potential for snark everywhere, especially if you’ve got a narrator with a great sense of humor. Jenna Mullins capitalizes on that potential throughout the story, and it makes for a very fun, lighthearted, entertaining reading experience.
This was probably thanks to the voice, but I quickly grew to like the main character, Dani. She’s a nerd, she likes to snark, she’s socially clueless, she’s idealistic, she’s realistically flawed, she’s frustrated with her desire/inability to make good art—so she and I have a bit in common, which helped me understand her immediately. I kept rooting for her even as the story went on, and I appreciated how Dani tried to drive her own plot at all times.
The main ship was also one I could get behind, thank goodness! While it was super obvious from the beginning how it was going to go, I thought it was adorable. I could also genuinely support the relationship; it was healthy and cute and based on real emotion and respect. Also, both Dani and Tate are total dorks and it was really nice to see them dork together. (Totally a verb, I’m telling you.)
One thing I thought was really fun about Rules of Seduction was that most of the chapters were followed by just that: rules. These were sassy, relatable lists of rules, presumably put together by Dani, for navigating various situations that she gets exposed to in the book. I thought this was a great format and helped to reinforce Dani’s character.
However, there were some negatives: for one, the characters, even Dani herself, make some spectacularly bad decisions. I’m not saying fictional characters can’t make mistakes—in fact, characters who don’t ever make mistakes are boring as heck—but the ones in this book are a little much. Dani makes some life choices despite the fact that her roommate/friend/presence of awesomeness, along with just about every bone in her body, cautions her against them. I felt like Dani could be a lot smarter than this and these terrible choices were merely forced onto her to advance the plot at times, so it didn’t really feel true to her character.
Another thing I was disappointed about, although this kind of goes with my previous point, was that the main conflict of the book is essentially one huge misunderstanding. The entire thing could have been resolved if all the important characters had just gotten together for some coffee and a long, honest conversation. While there are some books out there that make this work, I felt like here it wasn’t handled as well as it could have been, which disappointed me.
The book was also very, very predictable. Within the first couple of chapters, I could assemble a rough sketch of what the plot was going to be in my head. This isn’t necessarily bad if you’re into YA contemporary romance tropes—and tropes are not always evil! there are some tropes I adore!—but a warning: the tropes are strong with this one.
Lastly, the conflict was resolved a little too magically at the end for my taste, and I felt really let down because of that. True, it wasn’t much of a conflict to begin with, but after becoming somewhat invested in Dani and Tate’s story, it was a little… deflating to have everything wrapped up so neatly.
While Rules of Seduction was fun and cute, it’s definitely not for everyone, and I felt like it didn’t really make any lasting impressions on me. I’d probably recommend checking it out if you’re feeling a little down and need a fast read to get your spirits up, or if you know that it would align with your personal tastes.