Double Clutch (Brenna Blixen #1)
by Liz Reinhardt
Gosh, this book is so freaking cute, I can’t even stand it. We all can use a little romance now and then, but not many contemporary YA love stories stand out as anything particularly memorable, which is why I normally prefer to see them cloaked among werewolves and angels and other such distractions.
Brenna Blixen doesn’t need supernatural beings to keep our attention, however. This smart and focused heroine has plenty of drama in her life, what with starting all over again at her school after being abroad for a year. She’s also attracted to two very different boys: the arrogant, too-sexy-for-his-own-good Saxon, and the hot but shy Jake. Both boys pursue Brenna with enjoyable focus, and as things heat up in the two different relationships, she discovers that everyone’s hiding secrets…and the two boys even have a complicated history of their own.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but it quickly became one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Love triangles are rarely well-done, but it’s easy to see why Brenna likes both boys in different ways–and why they like her, too. She’s smart-mouthed but kind, responsible but spontaneous, and just seems like an all-around nice girl who’d be fun to hang out with. I liked that even though the story is very much centered on the romance, Brenna has a balanced life and cares about things other than just boys. Her parents and friends are great, she thinks about school and about her future, and she doesn’t allow herself to be walked all over. Ever.
I love that Brenna goes on blessedly normal dates, sneaks her boyfriend into her room, and tries to be a good person in handling her attraction to these guys without being a boring old goody-goody. One of the things debut author Liz Reinhardt deserves big credit for is that this is probably the most explicit and realistic depictions of teen sexuality I’ve ever read. It’s also HOT. And fun. And the characters actually talk about sex, which is fantastic.
The two boys are also mouth-wateringly adorable. They’re both seriously cute, Saxon with his careless demeanor and how he’s attuned to Brenna’s personality, and Jake with his sweet uncertainty and absolute devotion. (I almost hate to say this, but the name *whispers* Tucker Avery floated into my head more than once…) Neither boy is even close to perfect, though, which makes for some uncomfortable moments and history, but also some fairly realistic ones, including some wince-inducing bluntness from Saxon in particular. I liked that, aside from a number of hot and heavy make-out scenes, there is also unexpected depth and emotion in this story. These characters are layered and feel very real; this book pushed a number of buttons for me, since it makes me terribly sad to hear about kids who don’t have enough to eat, as well as incredibly angry when I hear of anyone being mocked for their lack of education or intelligence.
If there’s any room for improvement, I’d say that Brenna might be a little too adult sometimes in her thinking and her actions, even though I really enjoyed not wanting to smack the heroine for a change. Jake’s past is also perhaps explained away a little too simplistically, and there are a lot of references to films that might be considered a bit dated when they’re all taken together. None of this really bothered me all that much, however, as the narrative voice is so fresh and funny and thoroughly winning. It just worked for me as a YA romance in a way that few others have ever done. The sequel, Junk Miles, wasn’t quite as successful for me, but this first installment was one that I really enjoyed.
The next time you’re in the mood to wriggle your toes over some adorable dates or swoon over some cute guys, consider giving Double Clutch a try! I think most fans of contemporary YA romance will fall in love with it in a big way.
About the Book:
That’s right, this is a self-published novel, and aside from a couple of minor typos, it’s actually more polished than many traditionally published books on the market. Although I do support indie authors, I rarely respond to indie review requests these days since I receive so many. What caught my attention about Liz’s note, however, was her warm and personalized approach, her reference of the Oxford comma in her author profile, and my sneaking suspicion that Brenna’s name was a nod to the writer Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen. I was right about that reference, and I was right to give this book a chance. I hope that if you’re a romance lover, you will, too.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
A review copy was provided by the author. Recommended for mature teens or adults only.