Friday, May 2, 2014
ARC Review: Tease by Sophie Jordan
Title: Tease (Ivy Chronicles, #2)
Author: Sophie Jordan
Rating: 2 Stars
Release Date: May 27th, 2014
In a rare display of symbolism, the cover of this novel is every bit as off-putting as it needs to be. When I first looked at the ARC of this novel, I was originally disappointed as I felt the cover image - with those models looking at the viewer and at each other so oddly - would work against an otherwise excellent novel. Unlike its predecessor, however, Tease is exactly the typical New Adult novel it is projected as. Where Foreplay managed to draw me into the college lifestyle, warm friendships, and a romance that defied stereotypes while playing within them, Tease follows an all too-familiar cookie-cutter formula which has, fortunately or unfortunately, run its course.
Tease follows one of Pepper's best friends, Emerson, as she finally meets a guy willing to get to know the real her beneath her multiple layers of barriers. Frankly speaking, I am not exhausted of this particular plot-line. I think that with maturity and time, there comes a point in every relationship where honesty is needed above "faking" it and considering the state of women's self-esteem all around the world thanks to the media, I am not surprised that this a theme authors keep returning to and readers keep embracing. After all, every character is different and their approach to their growth isn't the same either, appealing to certain types of audiences more than others.
In the case of Tease, though, this wasn't the case. Emerson is estranged from her family, bitter at the world, and uses guys to further the image of her sexual experience. Moreover, she enjoys teasing guys as it gives her a modicum of welcome power of her life. I get that. Where I had a difficult time with this story, however, is in the fact that Emerson's growth is peppered with recycled tropes playing a large role in her agency. Whether it be the alpha-male, Shaw, whose insistence at control forces Emerson to give up her own control and learn to trust and open up to him or the sexual abuse which drives forward her present-day motives, Emerson's story line dulled my senses, causing my eyes to skim over the pages instead of lean in with barely-contained excitement.
Admittedly, my dislike for alpha-males is a personal one and, as far as they go, Shaw is definitely one of the better, nicer guys whose dominance doesn't dictate his every action. Nevertheless, Shaw's personality as a love interest never came alive for me and, moreover, his connection with Emerson seemed purely physical. No, not purely physical, but if Emerson had met a different stubborn, alpha-male she would have likely fallen for him too as his controlling qualities would have forced her to open up under his probing gaze, just as she did with Shaw. Moreover, I am growing a little disgusted by the blatant use of sexual abuse in every single New Adult novel to further the plot line. I am not denying the fact that the percentage of women who experience sexual abuse is high - it is - which makes the chances of all these characters suffering from some type of sexual abuse a realistic statistic, but the manner in which this is explored is never to the full depth and capacity it needs to be. In Tease, this aspect of Emerson's past is a negligible detail, mentioned and utilized to increase the drama of the story line instead of address serious allegations of potential rape and our societal view of it. Emerson's trauma and baggage is big enough to deal with without adding sexual abuse into the mixture, so its presence only clouded an already disappointing story.
For fans of Sophie Jordan, I have a feeling Tease may prove to be a success. Seeing as I've only ever enjoyed Foreplay, I am certainly the first to admit that I went into this with grossly high expectations and have had to pay for those hopes dearly. Perhaps, for me, Foreplay was only a one trick pony. Either way, I won't be lunging for the next book in this series; lesson learned.