Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-237967-2
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Ah, I finally know the name of the rock band that spews out the dudes that would star in Jamie Shaw’s Mayhem series: The Last Ones to Know. Well, I still like Biebers on the Block better. The first book in this series was also called Mayhem, and Riot, the second book, has a self-contained plot, so you don’t have to read the books in order. However, the characters from the previous book feature heavily here, so reading this book without having read the previous book first may make you feel like a third wheel in a party.
Anyway, Dee Dawson, the BFF of the heroine in the previous book, and Joel Gibbon – yes, Gibbon, and don’t laugh, people, he can’t help being born with that last name – anyway, the dude is the guitarist of the Biebers on the Block, and he and Dee are already getting in on in the first chapter, But don’t worry, she’s not breaking stereotypes – her fast and loose lifestyle is an extension of her vast subscription of parent issues, trust issues, and what not. Meanwhile, Joel is perplexed by the fact that the dude on the cover of this book doesn’t have a Mohawk when that is his sole distinguishing trait from his bandmates. This story basically sees Dee and Joel doing the whole song and dance of pushing the other person away and pulling that person back in again. Can Dee get over her issues to love Joel? Can Joel convince her that all those girls throwing themselves at him meaning nothing and he really loves her?
While this one certainly ups the sexy quotient compared to the previous book, Riot shares the same strength or flaw (depending on how you look at it): it is completely fueled by tropes and clichés. If you have read any new adult story, you will be familiar with many of the elements present here, and nothing in the plot development will truly surprise. Even the scene where Dee gets assaulted by a guy who can’t accept that she’s just leading him on to make Joel jealous feels perfunctory, as it’s almost compulsory for heroines in new adult stories to experience some kind of drama related to men wanting their honey to make them a more special kind of snowflake.
On the bright side, the author still manages to make the heroine believable and even likable despite her bringing all sorts of played out issues to the table. Same with Joel – he’s a stock bad boy hero in a new adult story and, despite all his tattoos and mohawk, he’s just a teddy bear looking for a hug after a few rounds of monkey sex, but still, there’s something about him that is endearing. I think it’s because the author manages to make me view these characters as somewhat real people with a nice balance of smarts and silliness. These two may not be the most sensible folks around, but their chemistry feels right and I find myself melting a bit at some of the more romantic moments here.
It also helps that the author has avoided mucking up the story with misogynistic elements and double standards that are prevalent in the new adult genre.
Thus, Riot is a painless read with some romantic moments that can hit right in the feels. It’s just a shame that it is also a story that doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than another rehash of popular tropes. The author has wisely sidestepped the most unpleasant tropes, yay, but still, a little less predictability would make this story more memorable.