☆☆☆1/2 / ☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆
When Clementine Avery swore off men, she had no idea she’d need real life experience for that romance writing class she accidentally signed up for last spring. Fortunately, sexy RA Gavin Murphy offers to help her find a little inspiration… in the name of academics, of course.
Hooking up with that hot guy at the club should’ve been an easy, panty-melting item to check off Dani Hart’s bucket list. But when Dani realizes the hottie is her snarky new roommate’s brother, what should’ve been uncomplicated suddenly isn’t.
Maddie McDermott is confident no one will stand in her way of becoming a broadcast reporter, not even the subject of her new segments—her hot new neighbor Daren Sloan, the NFL’s latest “it boy.” Daren doesn’t seem to care that Maddie can’t stand him. In fact, he’d love nothing more than to show her that being friends has its benefits.
That’s right folks, I’m doing my first ever full series review. I probably could’ve reviewed each of these books individually but I read them so fast that I decided it’d be easier to do them all together. I’d been meaning to read this series for the longest time, ever since I stumbled along another one of Lex Martin’s books which appeared to be a spinoff of this series and being who I am, I needed to get through this before starting that one. It also helps that one of my friends on Goodreads just read this series and loved it so that helped me make the decision to finally start it. I was definitely in the mood for some good ol’ NA fluff and this series absolutely delivered. The couples were adorable, the romances were so sweet, and the stories were pretty entertaining. Clearly, there is a definitive ranking in this series for me and my favourite book came as a shocker to me. I didn’t expect to love Kissing Madeline the best but here we are. I was so close to writing this series off as simply being fine but that book was a complete game changer. I’m gonna try my best to talk about the series as a whole and point out specific parts of each book in my review but since I’ve never done an entire series review before, please bear with me.
- I’m just gonna start with my favourite book of the series, Kissing Madeline, and why it’s my favourite: holy geez wow. First of all, we have such a strongly driven female character that isn’t afraid to work hard for what she wants, nor is she afraid to stand up for herself not only in her work but where her heart is concerned, and will remover herself from toxic situations if she has to. Then we have this guy who consistently tries to be better than his past mistakes but doesn’t let what he was going through at that time excuse him from such horrible mistakes and he doesn’t want to be excused either, and he spends every waking hour proving that he can be better and is better. Put those two together and you got the perfect book for me, to be honest. I was beyond ready to write this book off because I wasn’t that happy with Daren’s character nor did I really want to read about him but I wanted to do it for Madeline and it all changed once I got deeper in to Daren’s character. In Dearest Clementine, we mainly see Daren as being a horrible boyfriend and a dirty cheater and there’s even a slight chance that he seems to want Clem back, while she’s dating someone else, but you eventually see that he just wants to apologize and get his friend back. That was fine, but I didn’t need to go beyond that because I didn’t trust him. But once you get in his mind you see that that was all he really wanted out of Clem and I’m glad that he has such value in her friendship and it made me warm up to him. But what did it was the fact that he didn’t let the fact that he was going through a lot of stuff during the end of his relationship with her excuse the fact that he cheated on her. Even when he told all of this to Maddie, she didn’t let him excuse himself from what he did. I’m glad that I got to see Daren own up to his mistakes and use it as a reminder to be better in all of his relationships. That was really important to me and is basically what made me love this book more. That, and the chemistry was so insane between these two that I couldn’t put it down. It actually reminded me a lot of The Score by Elle Kennedy, which is one of my all time favourite books, so we can guess why I love this book a lot, too. But the entire evolution of their relationship and how they worked so hard to form a friendship while they were screwing around and use that to have a solid relationship was great. It was a perfect NA book for me.
- A lot of the times when I read a NA series that has a spotlight on various couples, there isn’t a whole lot of continuity or involvement of previous couples and I’m glad that there was a fair bit in this series. It definitely helps that Clementine and Jackson are twins so clearly they’re gonna be in each other’s books, and then Daren’s best friends with both of them, so it was nice to see all of them popping in their lives. And then there’s Dani who’s Clem’s roommate so they have their own relationship. Maddie seemed like the only wildcard here but because she interviewed Clementine in the first book they built some kind of friendship off of that. All of these characters played a pretty important part in each others’ lives and I’m glad there was legit involvement rather than offhand comments about things that happened off-page. Because of this, it made Dearest really feel like a true series even if each book can be read as a standalone.
- The writing was relatively decent, though there were some issues here and there with the timeline and all that, but my favourite thing was how comedic it was. Each character seemed to have their own brand of humour but I think it was Jenna’s character that really stole the show. You knew that any scene involving her was going to be laugh out loud hilarious because the girl seriously has no filter. I couldn’t believe half of the things she said but it kept things so light and had me laughing a lot. But there was Clem’s dark humour and the general banter between basically everyone that really helped set the tone and made this an enjoyable read. I don’t think it would’ve been the same without this level of comedy.
- I loved how meta Dearest Clementine was, what with Clem being an author, and really enjoyed how there was a lot of talk about the difference between writing YA and NA and what really makes the romance difference in those kinds of books. It was also adorable how Gavin was acting as a book boyfriend to help her and often used that phrase which just made their relationship that much cuter. I think it just makes the reader understand these genres and worlds a little differently and I thought it was handled quite nicely.
- I think my only issue was really in Finding Dandelion because it felt like there was a lot of flip flopping in that book and the timeline was never really concrete. At first I was excited that it was overlapping with Dearest Clementine‘s timeline but it really didn’t and that kind of set the mood for the rest of the book. I wanted to see Dani and Jax sneaking around behind Clem’s back during the same timeline but what happened between them happened after her timeline. And then there’s their relationship in general which felt rather flip floppy because the whole thing with Jax not remembering their hook up didn’t sit well with me and I didn’t like how there was a love proclamation when all they had was a week together, really. I thought they were really cute and had pretty good chemistry, but I wasn’t buying their relationship which is ironic because I’m usually in love with books using this trope. But I just don’t think it was used properly here.
- As I previously mentioned, my primary issue with the writing is the fact that timelines were never concrete, or as concrete as I’d like them to be. If anything, Kissing Madeline had the strongest timeline and the fact that Daren and Maddie were hooking up for a few months made the love believable, but the others were either a week or less than 2 months and I’m not about that. There were also times where we’d skip weeks or months and it was kind of hard to figure out where we were in the timeline. It wasn’t the worst timeline I’ve ever experienced but it wasn’t the best.
- I’m kinda mad that the other two books had dual POVs but the first book didn’t so I’ll probably be forever pressed that I never got Gavin’s POV. But whatever, it’s fine. I guess.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Honestly, if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy NA series then this is beyond perfect. There is a character for everyone, a trope for everyone, and a relationship for everyone. It feels like such a classic NA series that if you’re familiar with the genre you won’t be disappointed at all. And word of advice: never write off a character you might not like; they’ll come in clutch and surprise you in the end.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Dearest Series (Dearest Clementine, Finding Dandelion, Kissing Madeline)
Author: Lex Martin
Release Date: May 5, 2014, July 11, 2014, April 27, 2015
Pages: 268, 266, 295 (eBook)
Until next time,