Peppered with dirty jokes and sentimental moments, this risqué debut follows a quixotic quarterback and a self-possessed cheerleader through their torrid romance.
Headstrong and vaguely anti-social, high school senior Dallas Bryan knows who she is and what she wants: She’s a dancer masquerading as a cheerleader who wants out of Castle Rock, Colorado, by way of CalArts. Uninterested in dating, she nevertheless finds herself embroiled with Drayton Lahey, Archwood High’s superhot, superrich star quarterback. Can their tenuous pairing survive past high school? The book is driven by two major commitment-related conflicts: Drayton battles with his parents over pressure to continue a family legacy of playing for Baylor University while Dallas must come to terms with her aversion to serious relationships. A forthright narrator, Dallas shares the always horny, often boozy highlights of the adventures enabled by Drayton’s bottomless wallet and selectively permissive parents. In one episode, an away-game liaison leads to a jaunt in California; in another, a CalArts campus tour guide shows up in Colorado and forces the not-quite-couple to acknowledge their bond—which, as an outcome of their ongoing romantic tension, will not come as a surprise to readers. Occasional narrative omissions prove disappointing, and linguistic slips by the New Zealand author are distracting. Most characters are assumed white; Dallas’ best friend is cued as black.
Despite its enjoyable characters and palpable passion, sloppy execution and overall predictability make this one to skip. (Romance. 15-adult)