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Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

I can't believe it's been over a year since I first read Perfect Chemistry. I think it feels more recent because I've been singing its praises (to the tune of "Somewhere" from West Side Story) ever since. I've only re-read it once, but I found that it held up very well the second time around. And, along with the rest of you who fell madly in love with Alex and Brittany, I was giddy with anticipation when I heard Simone Elkeles was writing a sequel featuring Alex's cocky little brother Carlos. And then the other day a lovely little package arrived in the mail out of the blue and made my day (thanks Bloomsbury)! Just look at that cover. What kind of sacrifice do you think Ms. Elkeles made to secure such freaking awesome covers? I mean, seriously. I love the Perfect Chemistry cover because that is exactly how I picture them (and how often can you say that?) and because, as my friend Trisha said, "Boy, does it do it's job well." And now I could just sit around and stare at the Rules of Attraction cover because, well, I think it speaks for itself. But, having read it, I love it even more because it is an actual scene from the book.

Carlos is fighting mad. Being carted off to Mexico without so much as a by your leave after his brother Alex got himself jumped out of the Latino Blood and took off for parts west, Carlos is less than pleased to find himself sent back to the states just when he was getting comfortable. But losing his job at the sugar mill and getting in good with the Guerreros--the local Mexican gang--earns him a one-way ticket to his brother's dumpy subsidized student apartment and a life of boredom attending Flatiron High in Boulder, Colorado. Kiara Westford is a model student at Flatiron. An avid hiker and amateur grease monkey, oversize t-shirts and hiking boots are pretty much the extent of her wardrobe. When her friend and mechanic Alex asks her to look out for his little brother Carlos, Kiara is certain she's up to the challenge. It's her senior year after all and she'd like to go out with a little more flair than is her norm. Suffice it to say, the two of them do not hit it off. True to his nature, Carlos attracts trouble almost the minute he arrives at school. When the police find his locker full of drugs, he's escorted from the premises and forced to attend a strict youth outreach program. To top things off, Kiara's father (who is also Alex's college professor and on a crusade to save the world one troubled teen at a time) offers to let Carlos move in with them until he can get back on his feet, so to speak. And the rest is history.

It was so fun to be back in this world again. Amazingly, that's what it's become for me. An entire world where impoverished Latino gang members and privileged white girls make good. Where sparks fly, attraction builds, and people stretch out of car windows to kiss in the pouring rain. But, just like its predecessor, what makes it all work even when it shouldn't are the connections between the two protagonists. Simone Elkeles somehow manages to make those points of connection feel almost unbearably real, thrummingly vibrant, and sweet as hell. I'll be honest and say I had a harder time warming up to Carlos than I did Alex. He's arrogant as all get out and I felt like Kiara's heart was on the line sooner than his and that fact made me nervous. I shouldn't have worried, though. Because when it does hit him it hits like a ton of bricks (which he deserves) and is gratifying to watch. I really liked Kiara and her kind and loving family. Similar to the gulf between Alex and Carlos, Kiara is nothing at all like Brittany (not popular or gorgeous, etc) and I liked her very much with her unselfconscious approach to life and her honest and forthright attitude. Though Carlos' overabundance of charisma and attitude throws her off her game, she refuses to let on and it seemed perfectly natural to me that he would find her both unsettling and intriguing. There is inherently less drama in this story than in Perfect Chemistry and I didn't find myself quite as involved with the characters. Carlos and Kiara are both slightly less volatile and their relationship assumes a somewhat quieter and certainly less dire arc. But I was delighted to follow its progress and perfectly happy with its resolution. Almost as delighted as I was with the brief glimpses I got of my favorite Fuentes brother and his girl. I may have giggled once or twice. Definitely recommended for fans of the first one.

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  1. EAK a scene from the book - how awesome is THAT?!?! How often can you say THAT happens!? Great review...I REALLY cant wait to read this book....

  2. EEEEEK!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

    (yes I am shouting!)

    Oh gosh I love love LOVED PC!! And you are right I pictured Alex and Brittany exactly like the covers!

    Uh, I am not even reading your review (sorry) coz I don't want ANYTHING spoiled!! Sorry again!!

  3. this just made my day day 100x better. I'm EXTREMELY excited about this Ang. Oh man....

  4. So want to read the book after your review! :)

  5. Glad to hear it doesn't disappoint!

  6. I am so looking forward to this one! And that cover - wow!

  7. April seems centuries away now, and I just finished Perfect Chemistry like yesterday my wounds are still fresh. Amazing review, and the covers are awesome and even greater now since that scene actually happens.

  8. See, a little less drama sounds good to me, actually. I think there was too much in the first one. ;)

  9. Jenn, I know!! I mean, I was hoping it was, but then to read it...*happy*

    Brahmin, lol, no apologies necessary. I don't blame you in the slightest! I was very sad when it was over...

    Alicia, you're 2nd in line after Liza. :)

    bookaholic, I'm glad.

    Mollie, nope. Just know it's not Alex and give these younger two a chance. I know they're 18 just like A&B were in PC, but they seem younger and a bit more...something. :)

    Alexa, I know. Words fail me with this cover. It's PERFECT.

    Caitlin, oh man. I'm sorry. I know exactly what you mean. And seriously why can't more covers be as awesome as this one?

    KMont, lol. I hear ya. You should maybe give this one a shot and see if you like the dialed downness a bit more. Though the hot scenes are not dialed down. But that's a good thing. ;)

  10. Anonymous5:04 PM

    You know, the scene on the front cover... I thought it was much more dramatic at first. In my head, I was imagining two cars driving down a highway at top speed (don't ask me why), and the guy and girl had shattered the back windows (hence the smidgens of glass everywhere) of the car in order to kiss each other.... Yeah. I was thinking - Um, Wow, that's attraction! Then, I hit myself on the head when I was reading your review. Rain. Okay. I'm completely nuts :P


  11. That's an amazing cover and it's a scene in the book? Wow! Your review has convinced me to read Perfect Chemistry right away. I will add it to my wish list and hope that I find a copy soon.

  12. Between this and your Some Girls Are review, I'm feeling extra special. Thanks!

    Seriously, how does Elkeles do it? I agree that there's less drama in this than Perfect Chemistry, and I didn't feel as invested in Kiara and Carlos (both individually and as a couple) as I did Alex and Brittany, but like you, I was still pleased with Rules of Attraction and not disappointed. Now, how long do we have to wait for the next book? :)

  13. Sharry, wow. I like your version, too! :) That is awesome.

    Chachic, you will not regret that decision! And that's probably my favorite scene in the book. A nice turning point. ;)

    Trisha, as well you should. I can always count on your picks. And I think we felt identically on this one. So much fun and I was sad when it was over. And very happy for every little scene w/ Alex in it. lol.

    And I'm assuming book 3 will be about Luis?

  14. YESSS! I'm so thrilled you enjoyed this one, Angie and I cannot wait to read it myself. I'll have to read it while my daughter is in school though as I think we'll be fighting over her birthday gift. LOL.

    Great review.

  15. SOOO excited for this one! Can't wait to read it. Lucky you getting surprise packages in the mail!

  16. Christine, *grin* I thought of you as I finished this one. Can't wait to hear what you and your girl think!

    Caitlin, you should have seen the happy dance I did when it arrived. Completely undignified.

  17. So...the combination of your positive review & a free copy convinced me to try this one. It's true that Carlos & Kara have great banter and chemistry and it was fun to read about the development of their relationship...but the writing was so bad! And the ending was so rushed and unrealistic that I just couldn't buy it. I don't know. I finished this feeling pretty lukewarm.

  18. erin, I'm glad it was a free copy since you ended up lukewarm about it. :) I'm assuming it was an ARC you read. There were a lot of mistakes in mine as well, which will be corrected in the finished book. Did you read PC first? If not, some of your dissatisfaction may have been from a lack of connection with the world and/or characters. Not that that should excuse this book not standing on its own, of course! But I'm sure I enjoyed it more because it had ties to PC.

  19. Angie - yes, it was an ARC, and I know to excuse a few typos and other errors, but the present tense narration just seemed awkward and annoying to me. There really aren't a whole lot of novels that I like written in the present tense, and I think it takes extraordinary writing chops to do well.

    I didn't read PC first, so it's true I might have missed out on some of the worldbuilding, but I don't think that was the problem - I liked the characters and enjoyed their interactions. There wasn't any moment where I felt lost or left out.

    But things like **SPOILER** that part at the end where Kiara is talking to her friend and he's like, "Oh, so-and-so's mother works for EXACTLY the organization you need to contact - and she can instantly set in motion that event you need to provoke later TODAY!" - that kind of thing will really toss me out of a story. With a different ending I might have been a fan; instead I closed the book thinking, "Eh."

  20. erin, yeah, I can tell present tense first person is really not for everyone. I think I must have read quite a few in my formative years because it doesn't bother me. But I understand why it does others. I'm with you on the chops, tho. Very true.

    And you're absolutely right, in this series things wrap up with a perfect little bow. You can pretty much expect that going in. It didn't bug me as much in PC because I was more invested in those two characters. If you ever feel like reading it, I'd be interested to see how it rated in comparison to RoA.


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