When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created "perfect" life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for--her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
OPINION: 5 STARS
This book was hot. Elkeles most definitely knew how to write the teenage hormones in this one. Steamy scenes ran rampant but not one of them was distastefully written- something that is hard to do in this genre. Underneath that lust, however, was clear emotion, desire and reasoning- also well spoken.
Things didn't happen instantly or easily for Alex and Brittany in this book- a feature that stands out tremendously. Neither character instantly ignored everything else for the other, despite the strong desire and even when one started to crack, the other stayed firm. This wasn't an easily earned relationship and I fully appreciated it. That single facet is what made this book find a place on my favorites shelf.
As with Leaving Paradise, the chapters alternate in perspective between Alex and Brittany but where that book fell short for me with character development, this one came out swinging. Both characters are as strong as they are vulnerable and Elkeles spared nothing in portraying that. Right from the start, the dissonance between their public personas and their true personalites was clear and instantly, I fell in love with both characters.
Ekleles did a superb job blending the rich, white collar society with the gang life, giving plenty of detail on just how trapped members of the latter can feel. Those contrasts made the final ending of this book even stronger and more memorable. The writing definitely kicked up several notches in this book from Leaving Paradise and though the chapters switched between the characters, they each showed their true ways- I didn't get the impression this was written from one mind trying to imitate two other minds. The characters were speaking, not Elkeles and it came out clear. The diversity factor in this book was also notable, making up a good chunk of the underlying plot and theme.
Alex is definitely a bad boy any girl would love and he slipped into Spanish at just the right times to keep the fire blazing. I most definitely want my own Latino Blood right now if he talks like that and acts like that because the moments when his sweet side showed through were astounding. Brittany became just as appreciable for me and clearly far more than the perfect ice princess she fights to be perceived as.
This ending was well earned and well done, leaving all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings in me. These characters are strong and memorable, and adding in the action, overall plot and general interaction, this is book is certainly a hit. I give this on 5 stars and will definitely read it again.