Written by Simone Elkeles
Published April, 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado. Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did.
Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.
This was a great addition to the Perfect Chemistry series. Fans of the previous book won’t be disappointed. Although we have left the focus of the last story, the characters we’ve come to know and love still make generous cameos. I found myself just as attached to Carlos and Kiara as I was to Alex and Brittany in the first one, so if the introduction of ‘new characters’ to the story is what’s putting you off reading it, you can be at ease!
I must start off by saying I usually don’t like writing that isn’t fluffed up with detailed descriptions and focuses too much on dialogue, but, Simone somehow makes me forget this. Her characters are so solid and real, they immediately capture your attention and you find you don’t need anything else to keep you reading hungrily. Hand in hand with the characters are their relationships – and Simone definitely knows her way around weaving a good romance!
If you haven’t read the books, you can probably guess from the blurbs that these are good girl/bad boy-esque relationships, which are the opposite of easy – there are certainly going to be some problems along the way. Simone tackles these issues brilliantly and with a believability that I have to applaud. Although there is usually an underlying ‘gang problem’ pertaining to the male lead (in this case, Alex’s younger brother Carlos) that carries on throughout the story, it’s not the main focal point and we’re allowed to sit back and enjoy the romance portion of the novel.
If you want steamy romance – you’ve got it! As in Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles knows just how much to include to make us all warm and fuzzy without going overboard. There are also handfuls of laugh-out-loud scenes and witty retorts that I found myself enjoying immensely.
Character-wise, I particularly loved Kiara’s little brother! He was totally adorable. I also liked Kiara, the female lead. While she had her problems, she was still very much a strong-willed character and was able to make decisions on her own. I found her stuttering problem to be an integral part of the story; it carried out throughout the book, too, which is great because it annoys me when vital pieces of the character are basically forgotten by the end of the book.
Carlos was great, too, but I still think my favourite Fuentes brother is Alex ;) Perhaps that will change with the next installment, Chain Reaction, when Luis arrives on the scene. Who knows! Until then, I’m going to be squirming in my seat with anticipation until I can get my hands on a copy!
Recommended to: Fans of contemporary young adult fiction! I just love Simone’s series and I’m sure you will, too.