Review of Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
AVALON BAY SERIES:
Bad Girl Reputation (#2) Releases October 4th, 2022
Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
She does everything right. So what could go wrong?
Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.
Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.
Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.
I was a little worried to see the lower star rating when I went into this one, but I decided to give it a shot and I’ll say I quite in enjoyed it! I peeked at some of the reviews and see a lot of people have compared it to After and that’s why they disliked it. I have never read After, and based upon a number of things I’ve heard about it over the years (re: problematic stuff) I don’t currently have any intention to.
I will say, I am of the belief that nothing is 100 percent original and there are countless romance stories out there with the “guy dates a girl to win a bet” trope. It’s okay to reuse tropes, especially if they’re ones that work. Do I love this trope? I don’t. But I enjoyed this book’s take on it and I’m sad so many have down rated it simply because it’s similar to another book because they are based on the same premise.
As for this book specifically, I loved these Mac and Cooper together! I enjoyed the way they helped each other see that the world around them is not black and white and felt there was some really noticeable character growth throughout—something that isn’t always the case in romcoms (and that’s okay too!).
I mentioned I don’t love this trope. It’s problematic. It’s dehumanizing toward the target of the bet. But I appreciated that this book quickly went from “I’m doing this for a bet” to “damn this person is not what I expected”. I mean, he DEFINITELY falls first in this one and seeing him grovel when everything comes to light was worth it. Although, I do wish we’d gotten the whole “he dated you for a bet” reveal done and over with earlier in the book.
I did find Mac to be a bit wishy-washy at times, and I see this book as more of a HFN than HEA. It absolutely reads as if it has a HEA, but a piece of me feels like this would have been better as a second chance romance where the characters spend some years apart finding themselves before finding each other again. But! They are great together and I think they are good for each other and can make it work, I just expect a few more bumps in the road (perhaps an epilogue that was further out would have changed this for me).
Needless to say, this is fun, flirty, and definitely sexy at times. I loved Cooper’s character especially, and enjoyed the growth both characters experience throughout. I think the lower rating is worth a grain of salt in this case.
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