Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid

I’ve read enough Penny Reid now that I can tell you what I like about her books. She’s very funny and she uses first person narration incredibly effectively. Often one’s inner life can be so different from one’s public persona and that juxtaposition, when done well, greatly adds to the characterization. That said, Elements of Chemistry also got this response from me, spoken out loud and with a great deal volume:

 She needs to be punched in the head.

But more on that later.

Kaitlyn Parker is the daughter of a very successful and famous family. Martin Sandeke is the son of a manipulative bastard of a billionaire. As Elements of Chemistry fits into the “New Adult” romance genre, Katy and Martin meet when they were paired up as chemistry lab partners at an Ivy League university. Katy tries to be invisible, Martin insists on seeing her. When Katy overhears people scheming (yes, scheming) against Martin, she peeks out of her cloak of invisibility to warn him. Martin is somewhat suspicious, but mostly grateful to her for this chance to make his move, so he finagles spending Spring Break with Katy, her friend, and the members of the college rowing team – of which he is, of course, the captain – at his family’s Caribbean estate.

Elements of Chemistry started well. Martin was very interested in Katy and not willing to let the opportunity to get closer to her pass. He pursues while Katy dances between her own distrust of the hot guy who wants her and the fact that she also desperately wants him, too. There is a lot of comeheregoaway in this book, a hitherto unprecedented amount of it. A level of comeheregoaway that means that the last two-thirds of the book consist of Big Misundertandings and me wondering at what point this lovely university student became Too Stupid to Live. Sadly, it was the last comeheregoaway in anticipation of the novel’s denouement that left me wishing physical violence upon Katy.

I continue in my failure to understand the timelines in so many of these books, or, to be more accurate, how many authors don’t understand that they need to successfully portray the emotional connection between the leads to justify the compressed timeline. Contradicting myself, all Martin and Katy seemed to have was an emotional connection, but it was constantly fraught and angst-filled. An hour or two of connected bliss (emotional and betimes physical) and their relationship would derail.  I appreciated that Martin adored Katy and was willing to work through her insecurities, but, comeheregoaway, jeezy chreezy, comeheregoaway, big dramatic moment, comeheregoaway, falling in love, comeheregoaway, and starting a relationship, comeheregoaway, is not supposed to be this difficult. Walk away, dude. Just walk away.

Elements of Chemistry was maddening and Penny Reid’s foray into co-writing,The Hooker and the Hermit, put me in the mood for a stabbing. Her Knitting in the City series is where I will be spending my time with her catalogue from now on. I particularly enjoyed Beauty and the Mustache.

Penny Reid’s Catalogue:

Knitting in the City Series
Neanderthal Seeks Human – Strangely compelling
Friends Without Benefits – Meh
Neanderthal Marries Human – More strangely compelling
Love Hacked – Pretty darn good
Beauty and the Mustache – Really liked it
Ninja at First Sight – quite good
Happily Ever Ninja – frustrating

Winston Brothers Series
Truth or Beard – too much comeheregoaway
Grin and Beard It – pretty darn good
Beard Science – mixed results

Other
Elements of Chemistry – see above frustration
The Hooker and the Hermit – Loathed it

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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