The son of a model with the looks to prove it, the experienced author of her school newspaper’s sex advice column, the cocky playboy with a hint of darkness. That Adrian King.
Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.
The problem is, he’s very into her.
After accidentally flashing him, and slightly-less-accidentally-but-still-totally-unintentionally making out with him in front of the whole class, she expects to be called crazy. Instead, he asks her out.
Cleo’s determined not to end up as another notch on his bedpost. Except she hasn’t done…you know…it in a while. (Read: ever.) And as a girl who pays her tuition by writing all the sex scenes in her roommate’s bestselling romance series, the lack of inspiration has served up a fat slice of writer’s block.
Until her roommate proposes that Cleo and Adrian act out all the steamy scenes in her book.
It’s just research. No feelings involved.
Note: I was given a copy for review
Adrian Lessons is a new adult contemporary romance and after finishing this book I can certainly say it is certainly more adult than not. The story revolves around Cleo, writer of erotic fanfiction and ghost writer for the sex scenes in her friend’s romance novels, soon finds herself infatuated by a guy in her class, Adonis-like Adrian King. Conflicted and lustful she tries to fight her feelings but is soon drawn into those green eyes.
Adrian is a character that knows that he is hot and isn’t too shy to admit it, but in a strange way it doesn’t make him come across as vain, or arrogant. He knows what he wants and surprisingly it isn’t what you expect. His affection and admiration for Cleo makes him charming, something that works well having getting to know him and seeing his perspective. I think if Rose had chosen to have Adrian as a character we see only from Cleo’s perspective there would not be the same connection and feeling he brings to the story, especially where dialogue is concerned, and his character would not be as likeable. His affection for Cleo and the fact he does so many things just for her warms your heart and puts you on his side almost immediately, you really can’t ignore how sweet and thoughtful he is with her. You soon realise he isn’t what you expect and there is more to him than meets the eye. To quote Cleo: He’s not just a gorgeous playboy with a cocky smile and an empty head.
She does have her reasons for her initial reluctant approach. She is working from reputation rather than acknowledging her true feelings or trusting him. The fact that he is hiding a secret and an advantage doesn’t help but it makes it an interesting read watching the two of them interact, picking up the references and information Rose drops along the way.
Cleo thinks Adrian is only there for the sex, but he proves her wrong and it is quite sweet and thoughtful, though he does have desires of his own they aren’t the sole focus of his courtship. Being inside his mind and knowing this from that start gives us an advantage and only helps our opinion of him, we are on his side from early on, hoping he’ll succeed.
I liked Cleo; she is self conscious, always doubting herself and her looks, but is also a little wild and crazy at the same time. She talks to her organs, gives herself pep talks, and she has a relationship and conversations with inanimate objects. This I understand. She also has enough sense to be cautious and wary, but not so much that she won’t take chances and have fun.
Adrian is also not the jovial character he seems with his dark side being uncovered and with secrets he’s reluctant to share. Even though we are given a deeper, darker side to Adrian that only added to his character, I wanted more. I could sense there was more hiding behind that smile and charm, something Cleo picks up on and I knew there was more to be revealed, but nothing else came. I know it wouldn’t have added to the story any more than it had already, but it would have been nice to explore it more deeply, not to make him dark and broody, but to show another depth to him, but this was already done well so I may just be greedy.
The story Rose has written is real and feels natural to a point. Yes it is mostly about a college girl helping to write sex scenes for her roommate’s novels, sometimes by acting them out to a point for inspiration, but there is greater reality in the narrative as well with character emotions and the relationships feel natural and suit the characters well.
With a story like this you can’t ignore the romance and the desire but it isn’t the flowery romance, at least not initially and what comes later is less flowery, more passion, lust, and desire. With things like that Cleo has the advantage given that she writes erotic fanfiction and the scenes for her roommate but it doesn’t take over her life and she doesn’t speak or think like that. The focus on desire and sex may be ongoing to varying degrees but it fits well with the story and if you don’t mind a few sex scenes that are detailed but not too crass then it is easy to get caught up in the romance side and the connection and affection between Cleo and Adrian.
The sexual nature and details increase as the novel progresses, I liked that Rose established the non sexual connection first though, this gave you something to build from and it gives it a lot more meaning. I don’t read romance or stories with a lot of sex in them often so I’m not sure what the rules are regarding this or adequate amounts included and detailed, but Rose works it into the story well and with believability. While I think I enjoyed the romancing side rather than the sex side I understand its importance. It isn’t there for the sake of it and it is pertinent really to the relationship between Cleo and Adrian, it shows their developing relationship as well as the intensity of their emotions. I will say it is often told in great detail and is clearly of an adult nature, nothing is implied it is all there, but while it does get quite detailed, it also never feels out of place. Cleo’s and Adrian’s relationship isn’t based on sex, but in a strange way it also is and it really does work well.
In terms of style, the writing and voice is good. It is engaging and the switch between Cleo and Adrian gives you more of the story and adds to the character’s relationships by offering both sides. What I found interesting was that they both are written with the knowledge that a reader is reading it, something I was surprised by, especially considering some of the content. It doesn’t take away from anything but it was interesting. There are narratives written like they are being told to someone, but it is another thing to break the wall and acknowledge it.
Overall I enjoyed the book. It was what I was expecting while not at the same time. With an interesting narrative concept it focuses on the characters with Rose using the plot well to highlight each of them, even if only momentarily. The characters have depth and are unique, bringing something of themselves into many moments making it light and humorous, while also grounding it and showing the complexities of relationships and the people involved. Adrian’s Lessons is a novel for those who want a touching story filled with adoration and the joys and complications of young love, but one that is also filled with the passion and desires that go with it.