Friday, November 8, 2013

Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London

The Basics:

Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London
Entangled Publishing LLC
New Adult, Romance
Published October 28th, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Her theory of attraction is about to get a new angle

Spring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

"Whatever it takes," however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.

Henry is Spring's only hope at publication, but he's also the ├╝ber-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite—though she can't help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. Spring finds there's more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.

What worked for me:

As previously established, I'm a sucker for a good Pride and Prejudice update. Maybe it's that the Darcy character has to swallow all that formidable pride to apologize and make good with the Lizzie character. Yes, Lizzie has her own pride and prejudices to overcome, but there's something about a sexy, arrogant man humbling himself for love that gets me. Every. Single. Time.

So, how does London handle Austen's tale?  Really well. This version is reasonably faithful to the original text. We've got stand-ins for most of the main characters, with some doing double duty (as in the case of Julia acting as both Jane and Lydia). There's lots of updates for the original plot - I wasn't feeling the lack of anything (though there are elements that have been dropped entirely).

Perhaps most importantly, Henry makes an excellent Darcy. Henry's got the upper-class thing going for him in terms of a wealthy family and loads of opportunities that are foreign to us normal people. He's hot, he's initially really stand-offish and he's gradually revealed as both an all-around nice guy AND a sucker for our heroine, Spring.

Spring's a bit more complicated. She's big on her issues revolving around the environment. It's hard to see past her complete commitment to her cause, which has involved making herself over in the image of what she thinks the ideal environmental warrior should be. Even her two best friends comment on how aggressive she's become on this front, and how off-putting that might be for someone who doesn't know her very well.

Without being too spoilery, I did like the moment when Spring is forced to confront one of her hot button issues face on, and her willingness to acknowledge she may not have had all the facts. I think this is an important step towards softening her stance a little, and making her that much more likeable.

Possibly my favorite part of this book - okay, no, Henry was my favorite part - definitely my *second* favorite part of this book is that Spring struggles with her own identity throughout this novel. She's recently undergone this self-imposed make-over to make herself appear more committed to her causes, but she's still floundering with her thesis, and I think she's struggling to make a bold statement about who she is within the context of a movement that is so characterized by stereotypes. This development of identity/finding oneself is a critical part of the New Adult genre - for me, at least - and I really appreciated the way that London incorporated it.

What didn't work for me:

I think seeing Spring interact with characters who shared her passion for the environment and sustainability might have emphasized her identity issues. I do realize that this would have veered away from the original Pride and Prejudice story but perhaps there might have been a clever way to tease that out a little bit?

For all the intellectual/academic basis for Spring and Henry to come together, I really couldn't believe that he was the *only* student at Stanford who understood Spring's sustainability thesis. It was a bit of unnecessary contrivance to bring together the two characters - the attraction combined with convenience of being neighbours (and willingness to help!) could have been enough to make Henry Spring's best choice instead of only choice?

I also didn't think it was necessary for Spring to be noted as a virgin mid-way through the book. First, it set my expectations regarding how far her relationship with Henry would advance. Second, when there was a later discussion about her using random guys to satisfy her needs, it read a little strange. That said, I felt like her experience or lack thereof was a non-issue for me - it didn't bother me that she *was* a virgin, it just seemed like a strange detail to include at the time it was shared in the book.

Bottom Line:

If you love a good Pride and Prejudice adaptation, you're going to enjoy Definitely, Maybe in Love. London adeptly puts a modern spin on the tale, giving us a sexy hero to root for, a modern heroine trying to find herself and a cast of supporting characters that complicate everything!

I definitely recommend this book.

4.5 stars
For fans of Pride and Prejudice adaptations, of the New Adult genre, of young love and sexy heroes.

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