Harper Pulse, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-4424-8869-4
Contemporary Romance, 2013
Breathe was previously published in digital format by Wild Child Publishing. I have no idea whether this edition has been revised, so if you want to know, you’ll have to drop the author an email. Also, the cover art and the publicity material all suggest that this is a “steamy” read (the publicity material uses that word). Take it from me: the only way this is “steamy” is if you’re reading this book inside a sauna. There is some sexy time involving a 17-year old girl, but those scenes are nowhere near the usual definition of “steamy”.
What this book is is fanfiction involving a teen pop star that behaves like a goody-two-shoes. We have the usual self-insert placeholder for the readers, our heroine Sadie whose job is to take care of her immature and irresponsible mother. When her mother complains that she’s a pregnant woman too tired to play the maid one day, Sadie takes a deep breath and offers herself as a replacement for her mother. Someone has to pay the bills, after all, and now that school is off for Sadie, she realizes that she’d spend her school break being the responsible one in the family. Again.
She ends up being a maid in the house belonging to teen pop sensation Jax Stone. It isn’t long before these two are claiming the other person is the air for this person and the reason this person wakes up in the morning – blah blah blah – but oh, he’s a pop star and she insists that she’s a dowdy frump, so how are these two ever going to have a happily ever after?
Now, we all can laugh our sweet derrières off at the very idea that a 17-year old girl will have a happily ever after with a teen pop star who is just a little older than her, but I’m sure the target audience of this book sees this whole “I’m a teen bride of that ugly one from One Direction” thing as very serious business. Let’s just stifle our guffaws and play along. Take it from me, you don’t want to face angry little girls in an Internet back alley without any means of self protection.
So, Sadie. Appropriately enough, she has no personality apart from “I need to take care of everybody” and “I really can’t believe I’m beautiful.” She’s a deliberate construct designed to appeal to the lowest denominator in a “Now, every girl can imagine that she’s Sadie getting to have true love sex with One Direction, so get yours today!” manner.
She’s beautiful and sexy, of course. Every guy she meets will tell her so – she has the best legs, according to Marcus, her BFF who’s secretly in love with her; her eyelashes are long and sexy; when she reluctantly shows up in a swimsuit, every girl in her vicinity turns suicidal and anorexic because she’s that drop dead gorgeous. Not that she will believe that, as only evil girls know that they are beautiful. She loves Jax forever and ever, but she’s also innocent enough to the point that she knows what an orgasm is but she has no clue what Jax means when he says that he has already achieved “release” by orally pleasuring Sadie.
Yes, the teens in this story use words like “release” and other words that make this book seem suspiciously like it’s penned by someone whose last exposure to teens was back when Little House on the Prairie debuted on TV.
Jax is sweet, adorable, gallant (who needs “release” when he can just “release” his true love all day long?), stunning, amazing, and more. He’s like the rock star played by Ken in a Barbie commercial. His love for Sadie consists of 90% banal gushing about her beauty and some 10% babble about how she is unlike the insipid and shallow bitches he meets during his pop star working hours.
Breathe is as believable as financial assistance letters from Nigeria. It may be a bit more saucy than the usual squeaky clean Disney channel “romantic comedy”, but I don’t think it’s going to have much sentimental value to people over the age of 15.