Friday, April 26, 2013

Review of On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street, #1)This is another one that was recommended so frequently and from so many different sources that I felt obligated to just try it, already. It's funny, though, that after all of the reviews and summaries I read, I still had an entirely incorrect idea of what this book is about. I thought it was erotica. Like, really kinky, hard core erotica. Or maybe like, 50 shades style wannabe porn. I don't know why. But it's not that. It's just romance with somewhat explicit sex scenes and that's about it.

Jocelyn moves to a new, fancy apartment with a new roommate, Ellie. Ellie's older brother Braden is very sexy, and kind of wants to be sex buddies with Jocelyn. Joss lost her family in a car accident when she was a kid, and her best friend died not long thereafter, leaving her psychologically damaged. Jocelyn is very, very bad at letting people in, and she has panic attacks. The book is mostly about Joss working through her issues and learning to accept the friends and love that she's found.

To this book's credit, it does try very hard to draw you in to Joss's screwed up little head, and make you understand and sympathize with her emotional issues and intimacy issues and so forth, and at times it's quite successful. If you've ever had a panic attack, you know how helpless and terrible the experience is. I could totally buy those episodes and the fact that they're triggered by being around Ellie's family. I could even buy her not wanting to let Braden in, beyond their sexual relationship.

I guess my issue with Jocelyn is that her internal demons are laid out in such an overt manner. No subtly. No surprises. Just "I have abandonment issues and panic attacks because my family died all at once and it was horrible." Real people tend to be more complicated. Real emotional baggage takes more time to unravel than that, because deep emotional scars cannot usually be traced back to one or two concrete events. The big events are part of it, yes, but there are hundreds of tiny little things that also build into the screwed up mind. Joss is written as a text book psychology patient instead of as a real person. She never surprised me. She never made me think about her, or the story, from any angle that wasn't entirely predictable. Every time I started to relate to her, she'd disappoint me with her predictable meltdowns and her inability to connect with people.

As far as the romance goes, I admit that it's well written. For the most part. Joss and Braden have great chemistry, both emotionally and sexually. Like Joss, Braden has emotional scars that he might as well where on a t-shirt.

Actually, let's all do that. Joss could have one that says "My best friend died, and I never want to make real friends again." Braden's will say, "My wife cheated on me, and now I only sleep with floozies." Maybe yours will say, "My Daddy left me and now I seek out unhealthy relationships with men." or "I was bullied as a kid, and now I'm mean to people." or "I was attacked by clowns and now I fear clowns and those bendy balloons that look like condoms and make that awful squeaky noise when the clowns make funny shapes with them."

Sorry, I kind of got off track there.

Anyway, yes, the sex is hot and there's sexy dialogue, and the hero is this super alpha/protective/scary/rich/sex god. Braden's extreme sexiness is, if I'm being honest, the best part of the book. A lot of reviews focus on his extreme sexiness, and I think that's why I had it in my head that this was going to be erotica. But it's not. But it is sexy. Braden is appealing, not only for the obvious reasons stated above, but also due to the fact that he's such a loving brother and considerate boyfriend. The fact that he stays with Joss despite all of her bullshit is ill-advised, but nice. I liked Braden quite a bit.

So, I guess to wrap this review up...It's a very readable book, although aspects of it are certainly frustrating and boring. It's a sexy contemporary romance that will appeal to readers who like New Adult (though it's not NA, strictly speaking), and erotica (though it's not that either). Worth trying, but not my favorite. 3.5 stars.

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