Title: Not Just Another Romance Novel
Author: Lisa Suzanne
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Chick Lit, Humor
Piper is a college student working on attaining her master’s degree in Psychology. As a huge sucker for romance novels, she decides to relate her thesis to her penchant for romance clichés, stereotypes and happy endings. From there, she comes up with the research topic: “Does the modern day romance novel leading man create unrealistic expectations for a prolonged adult relationship?” Her social experiment involves dating all the known stereotypes in romance novels – billionaires, bad boys, rock stars, bikers, dominants, athletes and maybe even her stepbrother.
At first glance, the book’s premise appears to be every female bookworm’s dream come true. I mean, having multiple fictional boyfriends is pretty commonplace. And getting the chance to actually meet them in real life and go on dates with them? Brilliant.
Yes please. I can see why the novel would appeal to many. Unfortunately, I don’t think the book’s promise was executed and delivered well.
Fair warning: The rest of this review will contain an abundance of uncensored spoilers and GIFs. Proceed with caution, should you choose to continue reading.
So that you would know what to anticipate, I’ll tell you right now that the book is awful and plenty of things frustrated me.
I had a top ten book boyfriend list, which of course changed (often) depending on what I was reading. I had a collection of signed bookmarks. I had a bunch of signed paperbacks I never opened, preserving the beautiful words and the new book smell with my favorite authors’ signatures inside.
But what I didn’t have was a real, actual, living leading man.
The book starts off quite nicely. We are quickly given a sample of the author’s humor and then introduced to a rather quirky and relatable character, Piper. At first, everything about her screams wonderful and easy to relate to, and I’m just like:
Afterwards, we meet Piper’s circle of friends – Scott, Austin and Shannon – who are equally quirky, awesome and entertaining.
Austin gave Shannon a very serious look while I stifled another wave of giggles. Scott had to excuse himself after a less than flattering snort.
“Vampires aren’t real,” Austin finally said.
“Well, you need a paranormal,” Shannon said, her voice both irritated and completely serious. “How about a werewolf?”
After brainstorming with her friends, Piper settles on her thesis topic: The modern day romance novel leading man creates unrealistic expectations for prolonged adult relationships. Finally, we are introduced to her first test subject: the ridiculously hot bad boy. The appropriate reaction is as follows.
Piper gets her thesis research topic approved by her professor, Dr. Prestbury. Which does not really make any sense at all because her proposal isn’t fleshed out well and the criteria she established for her evaluation is sloppy. I mean, I understand that romance novels aren’t necessarily technical, but it’s like the writer didn’t even make an effort to present the idea as something realistic, believable and actually research-worthy. But okay, yeah, I’ll let this slide.
After the bad boy, Dax Hunter enters the story, fulfilling the stereotypical role of the rock star. Dax is the lead vocalist of MFB, which stands for My Favorite Band. Similar to the first test subject, the rock star is apparently physically attractive beyond belief. He probably looks like this:
Piper then meets her DILF and her handsome billionaire CEO. And like the others, they’re both hot and attractive and panty-melting and whatever. Piper acts like the most ridiculous schoolgirl around them, and it is actually pretty damn annoying. The heroine in this book goes from adorable and hopelessly romantic to shallow and absolutely hormonal. At this point, I am no longer impressed, as shown in the GIF after this paragraph.
Dax reenters the scene as he and Piper go on a date. Piper is still hormonal, but this time, I can’t really blame her because Dax is the physical manifestation of swoon-worthy. The only thing unattractive about him is the way Piper kept referring to his laugh as an “adorable manly giggle.” I mean, what does a manly giggle even sound like? But I digress. His date with Piper goes really well. They end up in his place. Piper tosses all her morals out the window and practically begs for sex, but Dax decides to be a gentleman and take things slow with her in the fear of, in his words, “going to fuck it up by moving too fast”. I fall in love immediately. 100 points to
Gryffindor Dax Hunter.
The next day, Piper is still determined to push through with her research even though she’s insanely attracted to Dax and wishes to get to know him more. Piper rationalizes that she and Dax have only been on one date, and that since they are nowhere near being exclusive, she and Dax are allowed to see other people. She continues with her thesis work by looking for a Dominant online. However, Piper turns into a hypocritical bitch after Dax’s band’s performance.
I motioned between the two of us. “We’ve been on one date, Dax. I have no right to be jealous. You have every right to be back here kissing whoever you want.”
“Then why are you back here crying about it?”
“I feel stupid that it hurt seeing you with someone else.”
Dax explains that he has a public image to uphold that he can’t exactly change overnight. Shortly after, he redeems himself.
He pressed a soft kiss to the top of my head, and when he spoke, his voice whispered low just for me. “Last night, the guy who stopped even though every part of his body screamed at him to keep going. That’s the real me. The guy who held you in his arms all night, perfectly content because you felt so good. That’s the real me. The guy who drove you to your test and waited for you afterward with coffee. That’s the real me. I don’t show that side to anyone, but somehow you got to see it.”
Someone hold me while I cry over the perfection that is Dax.
He pulled back suddenly, breathless. At least I still had the same effect on him that he had on me. “Let me take you out for pancakes.”
Where the hell did that come from?
“Pancakes. Our new word for when we need to slow things the fuck down before I throw you up against the hood of my car and fuck you in the middle of this parking lot.”
Piper and Dax begin a relationship. Once they start dating, Piper’s best friend, Scott, starts being extremely distant and indifferent. Piper picks up on this right away, and quickly realizes that gasp, she has a massive crush on her friend. Oh woe is she. Piper is still seeing men behind Dax’s back even though Dax is the doting, sensitive boyfriend every girl wants. Basically, this is the story’s turning point for the worse. By that I mean, this is where the entire story goes downhill until it’s nothing but a huge lump of downright awful.
All the humor in the writing has vanished and has been replaced with childish whining and boring monologues from a girl who can’t fucking figure out what she wants. Piper’s character evolves from a girl who just wants to find her happy ending to a bratty bimbo with no morals whatsoever. She’s essentially turned herself into the antithesis of what feminism is fighting for. Piper is literally screwing over her boyfriend by screwing him while going after other “hot” men. She’s like a hormonal dog frantically looking for the nearest object to hump.
We finally realize how much of a shallow bitch she is.
I was weak. I was human. My humanity had no chance to fight against his supernatural good looks or his sublime kisses.
Additionally, we realize that this book hasn’t even been proofread thoroughly. But I digress.
I took a deep breath. “It’s about male leading men and how they create expectations for real life relationships.” I said it in a rush.
She’s with a perfectly great guy – a good guy. A guy who pushed his trust issues aside and gave up so much for her. Piper and Dax have phenomenal chemistry, despite how glaringly obvious it is that Dax deserves so much better. Instead of being content, Piper isn’t completely upfront with him and is still mulling over whether she should hit on her stepbrother or not. Instead of giving Dax what he deserves, she is constantly wavering back and forth between him and Scott. For fuck’s sake, her mind conjures the most fucked up of thoughts.
So did I want the mind-blowing sex that could turn into a deep emotional connection down the line? Or did I want the deep friendship that may or may not come with a bonus side of amazing sex?
I mean, 85% of the novel is seriously about how she and Dax work well together and make a good couple. However, once Scott confesses his love to this scatterbrained bitch, Piper flees and decides to send a goddamned text message to address the issue, telling her friend that she “doesn’t know” what she feels or what she wants. Which is clearly absolute bullshit because she’s just playing with all the guys’ emotions.
I mean, at this point, when I think of Dax, I’m just like:
But for some godforsaken reason, Piper falls under a hypnosis spell and proclaims that she is in love with Scott. Supposedly, this means that she is subconsciously head over heels for her best friend. I shit you not. This, in turn, ultimately leads to her decision: Piper has to break up with Dax because of what she said while she was hypnotized.
Am I really supposed to believe that the right decision is to end things with a perfectly great guy for a dude who spent 90% of the book being distant and douche-y and has less than 15 lines in the entire fucking story? Am I supposed to buy the idea that Piper is madly in love with Scott even though the author never bothered to establish any kind of romantic chemistry between them? Answer: No.
Oh and did I mention that after Piper and Scott have sex, they high-five each other?
Who do they think they are? Marshal and Lily from How I Met Your Mother? Again, I shit you not.
In summary, Not Just Another Romance Novel had the potential of being a decent, fun and lighthearted read. However, that notion kicked itself in the ass the moment the author revealed her heroine’s true colors. It’s a promising storyline delivered and narrated in the most frustrating and annoying manner. And I think that’s the saddest thing here: the fact that the story could have been told terrifically, that it could have been extremely good.
Truthfully, I’m having a difficult time rating this book. Looking back at everything I’ve typed, it should be obvious that a novel this awful deserves a low rating because I should be angry (especially with that ending) and I shouldn’t have enjoyed reading the book. But that’s precisely my dilemma. While I am very much annoyed and while I do loathe how the story ended, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy reading. For some strange reason, I still did. Despite how much I hated the main character, the rest eventually grew on me.
If I were to rate this book based on Dax’s character alone, I’d give this 5 stars without hesitation. If I were to rate this book based on the ending, I’d give this no star. If I were to rate this book according to how much I enjoyed it, I’d give it a 2.5 out 5. And if I’d rate this book according to writing style and technicality, I’d give it 2.5 stars. Getting the average of these ratings results in 2.5 stars, and that’s what I’m going with.