Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Title: Foreplay (Ivy Chronicles, #1) 

Author: Sophie Jordan

Rating: 4 Stars

Do me a favor and disregard everything you've heard about this book. (Especially if you've read the synopsis.) And, while you're at it, throw out those pre-conceived notions you may have looking at the cover or title of this novel.

Hmm...ready to listen? Foreplay is, in a few simple words, a genuinely good New Adult title.

Now that you've gone off in a huff, called me crazy, shut down your laptops and hastily logged back in, I'll use a few more words, shall I?

Jordan's Foreplay is about Pepper. From the first page itself, Pepper is in love with Hunter Montgomery, her best friend's older brother. Unlike the Montgomery's, Pepper's life has been far from perfect. Instead of a nuclear family she's dealt with a deceased father and missing mother, being brought up by her grandmother. Instead of family vacations to Disney land and an atmosphere of safety, Pepper has never been able to let go of the past she led running from one place to the next when her mother was still around. Needless to say, for as long as Pepper can remember, Hunter Montgomery has been the symbol of all she has ever hoped for: safety, security, and love. Now that he's finally single, though, after two years in a committed relationship, Pepper has no idea how to woo him over.

Enter: Reece. Or, as most people would rather call him, sexy bartender. While Reece isn't the type of guy Pepper would ever go for - and neither is the goody-two-shoes beauty the type of girl he'd usually pick either - the two are strangely drawn to one another. And Pepper, hoping for an experienced guy to teach her a few tricks of the trade, happily launches onto Reece to become that person. What she doesn't expect is the unexpected intimacy - and genuine feeling - that creeps into her heart after spending so much time with him. After all this time, is Hunter really the one she wants? Or is it someone else?

Although Foreplay doesn't necessarily sound as original as, say, mutant zombies in space wielding katanas and riding space unicorns (I just made that up...), in comparison to other New Adult reads, it genuinely does stand out. (Besides, isn't the summary I just gave you far better than the nasty internet rumor going around of Foreplay being about a girl who wants to lose her virginity?)

1. This is a story about broken people who do NOT heal one another. Both Reece and Pepper haven't lead the best or more comfortable lives, but they fall in love despite those issues, not because they expect to change each others lives. Moreover, Jordan never sugarcoats their romance. Every issue that Reece and Pepper start out with in the beginning of the book is carried over to the end, but that only strengthens the bond between these two.

2. Zero Slut Shaming. Zero. First off, Pepper doesn't want to lose her virginity in this book. She is more than happy to stay a virgin until she finds the right guy, but she doesn't look down upon those with different attitudes either. Are there still women who "thrust their cleavage" and what-not? Of course, but these are treated as observations and never explicitly remarked upon, which I appreciated. It's all too common for New Adult books to veer into sexism or misogyny because alpha-males are trying to hard, but Jordan avoids that issue with this book quite adeptly.

3. Friends. Real Ones. Emerson and Georgia, Pepper's close college friends, though leading different lifestyles than Pepper are watching out for her regardless. If she isn't comfortable in a situation and they're about to land a hot date, they do the right thing and make sure Pepper gets home instead of ditching her for their one-night stand. Friendship. It exists in NA. *gasp*

4. College Exams/Dorm Life/Jobs. Everyone in this book is young, but they deal with regular activities like a job, parties, exams, having dorm rooms and suite mates. It's so blessedly normal and the fact that this existence is even acknowledged outside the romance is a plus point in favor of this novel. (Yes, that's how bad NA has gotten...)

5. A respectful romance. What I really appreciated with this one was how little angst was present. Reece knows that Pepper wants Hunter for safety and comfort and though he has feelings for her - and her for him that she refuses to acknowledge - he's mature and let's her find her way on her own without ever forcing himself on her. Reece only goes as far as Pepper is willing, never telling her that she'll enjoy more or trying to please only himself. It's a strong, mutual relationship in which both parties give and take, compromising in a realistic, but equal, manner.

If those aren't five promising reasons to pick this one up, then I don't know what are! Seriously - give this one a shot. You won't be disappointed.

P.S. - If you are a frequent user of GoodReads, then I'd encourage checking out Emily May's NA Experiment which has never led me astray. If you aren't already aware of this, I'd urge you to keep track of these reviews. Not only have they helped me find decent NA reads, but they're wonderfully written too. Thanks Emily May! :)


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! I was talking to Emily (her NA experiment is fantastic) about how we both liked this book better than her new upcoming YA title THE UNINVITED. (And I've heard mixed things about the Firelight series as well.)

    Your review is so great--I really enjoyed the friendships and the way the romance is portrayed, too. The subject sounds so squicky, but it's really not.

    I'd be up for reading about armed space zombies that ride unicorns, though.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Wendy, I enjoyed this a lot more than Uninvited as well, not to mention Firelight which I picked up a long time ago but never wound up continuing. I'm hoping the companion novel to this book is just as rewarding - strange how this author's novels are so hit-and-miss! I'm not sure if her historical romance would work better than her YA titles...have you tried them? Perhaps Contemporary suits Jordan better than Fantasy or Sci-Fi? Hmm... Thanks for stopping by, Wendy! :)

  2. I've never heard of this one before, but I love that Sophie Jordan takes a beautifully realistic approach to it. There's something about a novel that truly shows an accurate portrayal of friends that just speaks to me. Lovely review, Keertana!

  3. So glad you loved this one Keertana! I really enjoyed it as well even if Pepper's stubbornness wore on me toward the end. I loved how she had fantastic friends just like you said, ones who weren't all "YOU CAN'T STAY A VIRGIN, IT'S UNACCEPTABLE!" That's part of the issue I usually have with this setup, but I loved how Sophie handled everything. Lovely review!

  4. Like Melissa, this is the first time I'm hearing about this title too! I LOVE the way you've broken down the memorable aspects of this novel, from the authentic portrayal of its characters to the satisfying romance. I don't know if I'll be checking it out anytime soon, but you do give such compelling arguments, I'll have to keep it in mind for later in the year. Great review, Keertana! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  5. Girl I'll totally listen to you and go against my prejudice and read this. I'm avoiding NA books like a pledge but I hope this one will be different. I have a feeling like it will. So glad you enjoyed it. Amazing review, Keertana :)

  6. I always figured 'good new adult' was an oxymoron. I'm glad to see that there's still hope for the genre, no matter how small. Even I might give this one a chance, and you know what it takes to make me pick up a contemporary, let alone NA. Fabulous review!

  7. First... "mutant zombies in space wielding katanas and riding space unicorns" I want that book! You must write that book! LOL

    I have passed on many a NA book but I have heard good things about this one. Still, I was on the fence, but I think you knocked me over. You really outlined why I need to read this book. Thanks!

  8. Hah! Melissa @ Books and Things stole my comment! I wanted to say that you need to write a book about mutant zombies in space wielding katanas and riding space unicorns. Cause damn, that would be a crazy awesome book. I have read some reviews for this one and all were positive like yours! I might bookmark this for when I'm older.

    Lovely review, hun! <33

  9. Oh man, I loved this book. I'm excited that the next in the series is going to follow Emerson. Very, very excited.

    And to add on to what you and Wendy said above, this is by far Jordan's best book--Uninvited, the Firelight series, and her historical romance titles all fell a little flat for me, but this one just gave me everything I could possibly have wanted from it.

    Kate @ The Midnight Garden

  10. I bought a copy of this a while ago and just never got around to reading it. Plus, I did see a couple of reviews that had me thinking twice. I'll have to push this up in the TBR because this sounds exactly like my kind of read. I do like hearing the romance was relatively angst free. Wonderful review, Keertana. I'm really looking forward to this now. :)

  11. I'm thrilled to bits to hear you have found a quality NA! The handful of NA books I've read recently all had broken characters who fix each other (mostly with sex) and/or relationships that are supposed to be hot and passionate but come off as borderline abusive. I was close to swearing off NA books for good, and honestly had dismissed this, even in spite of some positive reviews, but I can see now that would have been a mistake. I know you have very discerning taste, so I trust that I'm going to enjoy this and that it won't have me rage reading. :-) This sounds like a very promising story, and I've just joined the massively long wait list at my library for a copy. Thanks for your lovely, thoughtful review!

    (Also "mutant zombies in space wielding katanas and riding space unicorns" is basically an autobuy premise for me. DO WANT!)

  12. An NA that doesn't commit every trope in the book?! *gasps* I might just have to check this one out. I'm so very tired of sexist, misogynistic, cliche-riddled stories masquerading as romance, but this actually sounds like something I could enjoy. Glad to hear it worked for you!

  13. Oh, I really want to read this one but I still have to write my review of Foreplay and I know I'm going to be doing something similar in my review--listing off reasons I liked it--so I'm going to come back afterwards so I don't subconsciously swipe your ideas, K! But I am anxious to see if we liked Foreplay for similar reasons:)

  14. I can't remember if I ever commented back on your note on GR, but you've definitely peaked my interest in this story. It sounds like the typical NA plot line, but I really like that it offers something different in these characters. That sounds refreshing. I look forward to picking this up sometime.

  15. In answer to your question--I haven't tried Sophie Jordan's historical romances yet, but I think Kate really likes them! I've been in a HR mood lately, so I should give those a try, too. Keeping in mind the hit or miss thing, of course. ;)


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