Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: Wild Ride To Love Series

In Susan Fox's Wild Ride to Love Series each book is about one of the four Fallon sisters adventures in love as they make their way to the youngest sister's wedding. I did not read the first book in the series, Sex Drive (the author published this book under the name Susan Lyons), and it didn't seem to affect the storyline or experience for me. I found this series online through my library and had no idea that it was erotically comparable to 50 Shades of Grey {Perhaps if I had known the title of the first book when I started reading! You can imagine my surprise when I figured it out!}. Since each book can stand on its own, I reviewed them separately:

Love, Unexpectedly {Book 2} -  Kat Fallon is a boutique hotel event planner and easily seduced by flashy men with interesting careers and superficial looks. Her boy-next-door neighbor, Nav, is head over heels in love with her but can't seem to get out of the best friends territory, nor does this photographer have the swagger Kat ordinarily falls for. When Kat asks Nav to be her date to her sister's wedding, Nav gains the courage to break out of the friend zone by surprising Kat on her 4 day train ride home, posing as strangers. While Nav forces Kat to see him in a different light, the anonymity of train travel helps both of them open up and learn things about each other and themselves that they hadn't previously considered.

Although the premise of the story is a little cheesy, Fox does a good job of making Kat and Nav's role playing on the train believable without seeming too ridiculous. Nav's physical transformation parallels the internal transformation of Kat as she learns how superficial and self absorbed she can be with people {men as well as her sisters}. While it would be easy to think of Kat as a shallow protagonist, somehow Fox conveys her as naive and more self-absorbed than selfish. Once Kat realizes how narrow-minded she has been, she tries to change her thought processes and reacts more considerately. This allows the reader to see her in a much more admirable light.

While I can say a lot of nice things about this novel, it wasn't necessarily life changing. A lot of it was long and drawn out where it could have been much more concise. There are some great messages about being open minded and avoiding superficiality, but not enough depth to make the book a favorite. I was most disappointed with the end and how quickly loose ends were tied up. There could have been more time spent on the conclusion and less time spent on the chase.

Bottom Line: This is a cute love story that you might enjoy if the premise sounds interesting to you. The characters aren't as glamorous as those in 50 Shades of Grey, but the story is more realistic. ★★★/5

His, Unexpectedly {Book 3} - Jenna Fallon, the third of the sisters, is the wild child of the bunch and doesn't believe in monogamy. When her car breaks down en route to her baby sister's wedding, she puts her trust in "the universe" as usual and the universe delivers Dr. Mark Chambers, a marine biologist who has no idea how attractive he is. Mark is also heading to Vancouver, BC for a symposium and Jenna convinces him to give her a ride. On the 72 hour drive, Jenna teaches Mark about having fun and being spontaneous while Mark teaches Jenna the value planning and appreciating who she is. Of course, they both teach each other about love, but you knew that, right?

Similar to the novel before it in the series, a lot of Jenna and Mark's story is repetitive once it gets going. The premise is also kind of unbelievable: that two people so different could fall so madly in love over the course of a few days, especially because the main connection Jenna and Mark share is their passionate physical connection. I found myself rolling my eyes at their physical interpretation of "love" more than once, but I suppose that's to be expected in a romance novel.

On the more positive side, I really liked both Jenna and Mark as characters. Jenna challenges the readers not to judge her the way her family does. Mark is so genuine but in need of fun that it's impossible not to appreciate Jenna's influence on him. While the storyline in this book and the others in the series are somewhat superficial, Fox continues to do a great job of explicating the emotions of her protagonist and helps them trace the roots of their issues to their upbringing in a way that promotes understanding over resentment.

What I most enjoyed about this book is the continued developing relationship of the Fallon sisters and, in this book, their mother. There is a scene where the sisters help advise Jenna on her relationship with Mark and it actually made me cry {something I didn't expect to do while reading these books!}. Beneath the sexy love stories, Fox has developed a deeper story of love: the love between sisters. Maybe it's because I can personally relate to the tumultuous relationships between the Fallon sisters, but I really enjoyed reading about how their relationships have become stronger through the youngest sister's wedding.

Bottom Line: If you liked Love, Unexpectedly you will also like this one, maybe even a little more. Predictable but sweet, with just enough depth to pull at your heart strings. ★★★/5

Yours, Unexpectedly {Book 4} - The last installment of the Wild Ride to Love series, Merilee Fallon, the youngest of the four sisters, calls off her wedding to Matt, her boyfriend since age 7. Confused but optimistic about finding their independence, Merilee and Matt decide to platonically go on their honeymoon, a week long Mexican cruise. During that week they not only learn how to live as individuals, but also learn how to inject some spice into the old and familiar.

Maybe by the third book I'm just sick of the Fallon sisters or maybe Merilee is just too boring in comparison to her three older sisters, but this book fell short for me. The predictability of the other two books was tolerable, but this book was monotonous and didn't even have a strong female character I could identify with. If I have to hear one more time that Merilee & Matt (or "M&M") are "soul mates", which to this author translates to "are too good to adopt", I am going to scream! If I hear Merilee whine about how she's so left out of the "Three Pack" any more, I am going to burst. While some may sympathize with Merilee's lack of attention, I was sick of her before she even set foot onto the cruise ship. 

I mentioned that the other books in the series are predictable, but somehow they were still endearing. In Yours, Unexpectedly, the predictability is almost insulting. I kept thinking, "Does the author really think I'm that stupid? Or is this supposed to be blatantly obvious...?" Regardless, I was annoyed come the climax of the book. In reflection, I think the previous books in the series had intelligent, vibrant female leads who were smarter than Merilee and more entertaining to read about making the predictability more forgivable. 

I finished the novel so it wasn't a complete flop, entertaining enough for me not to give up. The story was cute and Merilee and Matt's road to independence was somewhat endearing. If I liked Merilee more I think I would have appreciated their story better. It's unfortunate that a series with so much time invested and other interesting characters would end on such a flat note. 

Bottom Line: Only read this if you've read the other books in the series and you're OCD like me and must finish the set. ★★/5

  All book reviews are 100% my opinion. All books and characters belong to their respective authors. Book Review FAQ.


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