Kiss the Girl
by Melissa Brayden
Date: July 13 2014
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Series: Soho Loft (1st in series)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0
Read: February 2 2016
There are something like a million and one (or 14 to 78) brilliant reviews here. I'm not going to be adding much new to the discussion at this point.
This book is the first book I've read by this author. I was 'pushed' into reading this book because of a group I am in that is currently running a 'pick it' group challenge.
I had been putting off this book because everyone and their pet donkey just absolutely loves this book. And I didn't want to go in, after everyone else, pick at it and go . . . you know what? I don't really like this here. Yes, I felt self conscious.
The book involves Brooklyn Campbell, Hunter something or other, Samantha, and Mallory who jointly run an advertising agency in New York City. They meet in college and they are roughly around the age of 28 (though I believe the prologue indicated some were older than Brooklyn). Brooklyn is the main point of view for this set of friends. Brooklyn was put up for adoption when she was a baby and went in and out of various foster homes until, at some point, she ended her 'tour' in a group home and aged out of the system at 18.
The second group of people this book involves is Jessica Lennox and . . . um, she's friends with her assistant Brent. And is friendly her teenage neighbor Ashton. Lennox is a hard charging head of an advertising agency that she started long ago. It is also located in New York City. Lennox is described as being a bitchy, ball busting, 'get my way or I'll cut you' type of person. Oh, and she might be married to a billionaire who helps her find business. Most of this is based on rumors and nothing but rumors. Lennox, though, likes how the rumors help her in business, so does nothing to 'set people right' and 'fix' her image. I'm using Lennox on purpose, instead of Jessica (or Jess). Because I'm mostly referring to her business persona. Jessica/Jess, though, is nothing like what others see her as being. Oh, and Jessica is really really old...er than Brooklyn. 10 years older. 38. Or, in other words, younger than me.
Before I move on - I rather like both Jessica and Brooklyn.
Okay then. Brooklyn is having a rotten day - pulled over and ticketed for speeding, her car is towed, her heel on her favorite shoes break, and, to top it off, her birth mother has offered contact information through an organization that does stuff like that (Brooklyn had signed up with them when she was 18, i.e., 10 years ago). Gazing around in despair, she contemplates what to do with herself. Spots a neat looking place across the street from a print shop (there's a reason why she is there; oh - and the print shop line was super long - to add to her woes).
Brooklyn enters this lovely looking place. Walks right up to the bar and . . . realizes her purse is in her car (which just got towed away, remember). She kind of whimpers.
Jessica has had a tough day. She decides to do two things she rarely ever does - step out earlish from work, and go home. No the go home isn't the second thing. The second thing is to step into this neat little bar that is near her home. As she sits there looking around kind of happy she decided to step in, she spots a rather attractive woman step in. And overhears her exchange with the bartender (um, I forgot to mention that, Brooklyn's 'realization' about her purse took place out loud). Jessica offers to pay for Brooklyn's drink.
Brooklyn is reluctant but eventually agrees. Jessica introduces herself as Jessica . . . Jess. But without a last name, and makes a game of not saying what her job is (well, one of them do, I forget which one started the game of Brooklyn guessing Jess' job). Both have a fabulous time. It ends with Jessica acquiring Brooklyn's number, and giving a brief kiss. Which expands into a really passionate kiss. The kind that makes your toes curl and your hair stand up straight (or whatever it is that happens). They part.
Jessica and Brooklyn meet again, as someone who read the beginning of this review might suspect, when both turn up for an advertising job. Jessica Lennox is quite well known to Brooklyn's ad agency, but Brooklyn doesn't normally go on calls (and therefore doesn't know what Jessica Lennox, professional ball crusher, looks like). Plus, Jess never gave her last name. Jessica leaves a conference room. Brooklyn spots her. They gaze at each other. Brooklyn is now flustered and somewhat messes up her first ever attempt to talk to clients in a client meeting.
Jess texts Brooklyn. They kind of flirt by text.
The 'Cinderalla kiss' is mentioned by Brooklyn to her coworkers (well, it was mentioned, I forget the sequence now). The idea of having any kind of relationship, friend/romantic or otherwise, with someone like Jessica Lennox is roundly booed by everyone of Brooklyn's friends. Brooklyn kind of agrees with them.
Time passes. The Foster account is fought over by both Brooklyn and Lennox's ad agencies.
Eventually Brooklyn uses that contact number she got for her birth mother. Eventually her relationship with Jess advances . . . somewhat. Meanwhile Ashton, the teenage next door neighbor of Jessica's, is having a rotten time with her alcoholic mother - Jessica tries to help.
There's a really intense scene in a stuck elevator between Jessica and Brooklyn (which occurred, I believe, actually before Brooklyn attempts to contact her mother; it's not related, I'm just fixing the chronology I messed up in my review).
At some point, while reading this book, I was seriously contemplating making a brand new shelf. I would call this shelf something like '6 star books'. Then put this book on said shelf. Because this was, in fact, a really really good book. Until it wasn't.
The 'it wasn't' part occurred when a specific incident occurred. And I could immediately foretell what would then happen next. And everything unfolded almost exactly as I thought it would. About 99.9% exactly like I thought it would. To be fair, everything that happened? Did not seem like a contrived little thing to add to the book to add tension/drama/and conflict. It did, in fact, seem like a natural extension of the book (which is also why I knew immediately what would happen after the fact, and was 99% correct - because everything flowed naturally). Well damn. I was going to pinpoint the 'incident' at the beginning. Ah well. It was when Brooklyn visited Jessica. At her office. A bag may or may not be involved. I'm trying to be vague for those who haven't read the book, while giving enough for those who have to know what I'm referring to. *inserts spoiler tags*
The book was filled with a ton of tension/drama/etc. based on intergroup dynamics involving the Campbell friend group and their reaction to Brooklyn-Jessica link up; the ad agency competition; the drama over the birth family; and, most specifically of importance for a romance - relationship tension (both because of that issue of Brooklyn's friends not liking Jessica; being rivals; Brooklyn having commitment and trust issues; having to take things slow; etc.). So, tacking on an extra layer, even if a natural development for the book, seemed like a layer too many.
Oh, and, you know (those who have read my reviews before), how I recently made a comment on another book recently read about how it contained that cliche of 'I'm a powerful woman. I'm giving up control and submitting to another woman. I think I like it'? That cliche, once again, turned up in this book. And yes, it once again pulled me from the story. Though I just kind of laughed and dove back in. See, this was when I still thought of this as a six star book, and that specific scene neither increased nor decreased the overall score given to this book. (Though, I also admit (did I admit anything previously, dang it, I don't want ot reread my own review), Brayden handled that scene brilliantly).
So, for these and other reasons, I cannot break open a brand new 6 star shelf and shove this book onto it. Nor, in good conscious can I add this to my super duper and special 5.5 star shelf. I have currently placed it on no specific star shelf. Though I've currently rated it 4.75 stars. I am contemplating which shelf to add this book to. 3.5? Probably not. 4? Maybe. 4.5? Perhaps. And, surprising, I know, I still have a strong desire to put this on my five star shelf
February 3 2016