Now, I’m all for putting your cards out on the contemporary-romance-reading table, but sometimes a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ title can do a book a disservice – as, I’m relieved to say, is the case with Sweet Filthy Boy. Ugh, just typing it makes me feel a bit queasy. It’s, err, not my favourite when it comes to the title of a book, you may gather. It is, like, one of the worst. Yuck ick no. But anyway, enough about that. The book is far better than that moniker suggests, and perhaps the joke is on me – I may have been late to the Christina Lauren party on the basis of my titular issues, but the party is raging hard. This writing duo of besties (yes, one is called Christina and the other Lauren) have their corner of the lit world sewn up, and on the basis of the start of this ‘Wild Seasons’ series, I can see why. SFB (sorry, not typing it out again) is a sexy, sweet, well-written slice of fun. I’m always amazed when people can write a book with another person. As a writer (ahem, my book is out NEXT WEEK PUKE OMG: The Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo) I find the idea of trying to combine word-smithery with someone else stress-inducing.
However, Christina Lauren seamlessly combine their write-minds to create one believable, compelling voice in our heroine Mia, who heads out to Vegas after graduation with her two best friends, meets a sexy French bloke called Ansel and his two friends, and they all (yes, all!) end up – whoops – getting hitched to each other, in time honoured ‘what happens in Vegas’ tradition. However unlikely and weird that sounds, the writers handle the shenanigans with aplomb, and a fun way with a flashback. While her friends swiftly annul their marriages before the lights of Vegas are even in the rearview, Mia and the handsome, impulsive hottie Ansel decide to stay married for the summer for REASONS. And when Mia soon finds she needs to escape her oppressive home life for a few weeks before starting grad school, she takes a page from her new husband’s impulsiveness book and hops a plane to Paris with him.
Christina Lauren really handle(s) Mia’s combination of throwing caution to the wind and huge trepidation about her situation with an admirable degree of realism. Our heroine doesn’t immediately fall into a fairy-tale of life in Pareee with the boy of her dreams. There are money worries, concerns about navigating the city – even unsexy, vomit-heavy flu sickness and initially-awkward copulation. But the writers do an admirable job of really making that guy the title refers to come across as endearing, sexy and worth all the potential embarrassment on Mia’s part. Sure, Ansel works too hard, and keeps some fairly key secrets from her, but he really is a Labrador of a boy with skills between the sheets. He lights up the page, and the interplay between these two characters is compelling. Even when they decide to spice things up with some role-playing in the bedroom, it’s not just an excuse for super-mild kink, but a real way for these characters to get over themselves and get to know each other.
SFB is a sexy, sweet read that doesn’t insult the reader’s credulity, but playing it safe does lead to little in the way of surprises in the story. Well, sometimes crash-bang isn’t necessary. Yah, SFB is sweet and fil— well, just a bit dirty maybe, and well worth your eyeballs.
Cringe Factor 1/5
Is it Hot in Here? 3.5/5
For the Love of Feminism! 3.5/5
Overall Tasty Goodness 3.5/5
Amazon.co.uk link: Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren