Zach's good looks may have always gotten him his pick of girls, but it's the star quarterback's skill on the football field that gives him his pick of the Big Ten colleges. To escape the crushing demands of his win-at-all-costs father, Zach opts for a private university in upstate New York where...his present and past collide. And the one girl he's always wanted but can't have--and a class trip to Paris--turn out to be the ultimate game changer that has him breaking every one of his rules.
I am absolutely not the target audience for new adult. I’ve read a couple because of talk on twitter, but reading about college-aged characters isn’t something that I will do much of. However, I was curious about Beverley Kendall’s first foray into this romance subgenre. When I read “When in Paris,” I enjoyed it, was caught up in the story and was satisfied with the ending. However, I felt as if it read very similarly to a contemporary romance. As such, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it as an entry in the new adult genre.
Olivia and Zach went to high school together, but were not friends. Zach was deliberately standoffish whenever he was around Olivia. By some stroke of fate, the two end up going to the same college – and are in the same French class. Olivia is not happy to see Zach, as she has never gotten over his treatment of her. But the two both like each other. With the help of roommates, they eventually talk and form a fragile friendship that eventually morphs into something more when they are together in Paris on a school trip.
Again, as I was reading this, I was into the story, following the romance and rooting for Olivia and Zach to get together. I admittedly wasn’t thrilled with the passages told from Zach’s point of view. Because he was interested in a friends-with-benefits arrangement (in opposition of Olivia’s hope of a relationship), I found these pages rather difficult to read. I certainly understood Zach’s position and even sympathized with him, I just wanted his character to develop without me “seeing” the parts of him I didn’t care for.
It was only after I finished reading “When in Paris” and began thinking about it in terms of being a new adult romance that I wondered a bit about what belongs in this genre, especially in relation to sex. Zach and Olivia are both 19 years old. Zach is sexually mature and experienced (with two one-night stands and at least several ex-girlfriends and friends with whom he has shared benefits) while Olivia is a virgin. This disparity seems a bit odd, and as I ponder it, I think that Zach comes across as much older than 19.
Additionally, I thought that Olivia would have agonized over her decision to lose her virginity for longer than she did. This is generally a big moment in one’s life, and Olivia had deliberately held onto this throughout a relationship with her ex-boyfriend. Olivia and Zach take a long time to get together as well. The end result? I was a bit surprised that she didn’t take it much, much slower, despite the Parisian setting.
I’m not sure that I have any business trying to judge the appropriateness of sex in new adult books, at all, but I can’t help but try and wrap my mind around this question. I found the sexuality in “When in Paris” to be comparable to what I read in regular adult romance. Admittedly, this is why the story worked for me, as this is what I prefer to read. However, I was expecting the sexuality in this story to be much more tentative, less perfect and more of a journey of discovery.
“When in Paris” is a compelling romance with two characters that appealed to me a great deal. Is it a great example of a new adult romance? I don’t feel as if I can answer that. I’m far beyond my college years and have no desire to revisit the time of my life when I was contemplating my first sexual experiences.
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Book Disclosure: An ebook was provided by the author.