Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.
Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.
So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.
But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?
As any regular reader knows, I am a big fan of Jane Austen and have read several sequels and re-tellings. So when I heard about this one a few months ago, I was eagerly awaiting my chance to read it! I pulled it up on my Kindle screen, started in, and realized pretty quickly that it was going to be a fast-paced ride with rapid-fire conversations and never a dull moment. It wasn't as awesome as I was hoping, but that's not to say I didn't like it. Because I did enjoy myself! Very much. :)
First and foremost? Berry is pretty awesome. Raised by her father, she's integrated herself into his private eye world because there was no other choice really. What else does a man do with his only child when he's going to be away from home all kinds of hours of the day and night? If your answer is 'find a baby-sitter', then sit back down! Because of course he's not going to do that. ;) Thus she tags along and learns the ropes pretty quickly, so that by the time she's a teen, she can handle herself very well on stakeouts and also has a healthy dose of cynicism about men and relationships. She talks (and thinks!) a mile a minute. She's always trying to plan ahead and figure out what the other person is going to do. She's agile and small, which comes in handy when tailing someone. Basically, she's excellent at her "job" and only has two good friends, Mary Chris and Jason. Mary Chris is sweet and smart, with the ability to build all kinds of great spy gadgets for Berry to use. The gadgets are cool! I can definitely admit that. ;) And Jason is the requisite good guy friend.
Then enters Tanner and Drew. These two boys cause lots of mayhem and chaos in Berry's life. They refuse to leave her alone and she's not entirely sure which one she'd like to keep the closest. (Although she'd very adamantly deny she wants to be close to either one!) The reader can figure out fairly easily who is "Darcy" and who is "Wickham" in this scenario. But we have to wait for Berry to figure this part out. All the little nods to Pride and Prejudice were fun! Ms. Vance did a great job of using the merest outline of the original and setting up her own storyline, then letting the characters have loads of fun the rest of the time. The snarky comments, the action sequences, the mystery always just on the other side of what clues Berry digs up, it's all an entertaining ride.
What didn't work so well for me? Basically, this is the type of story where you have to shut your brain off and just go with the flow. Because reality is nowhere near this town. Normally this is not a problem for me. I like to be entertained! :D But the conversations run so briskly that I couldn't keep up with the transitions of emotions the characters had. I decided they were telling me things without showing me. I wanted more proof that they really felt certain ways or were happy with their own decisions. Not just them saying at the end of the conversation that they would agree with thus and so without any build up of how they were persuaded to agree. Also the pacing felt slightly off. It wasn't easy to connect with any of the characters.
Regardless of some disappointment, I had a great time reading this story! I did not realize that it's possibly going to be part of a series. At least that ending made it seem that way. Not any big cliffhangers or anything, don't worry! But there were several unanswered questions. I'd be interested to see where Ms. Vance can take Berry and the gang in the future. :) Read this one for the diverting entertainment, unique characters, and simply lots of fun! (And isn't that cover awesome?!)
"I know who you are."
He shakes his head, like I've just said something stupid. "Pretty girl with an attitude and a reputation for beating guys up? You might be the one person in this school I don't mind meeting."
My face gets warm. "For the record, I haven't beat anyone up since the sixth grade, and that was only because Mark Holberg hit on my best friend." I don't mention the fact that I got kicked out of my dojo as a result. I never understood that one. What was the point of teaching someone how to take out a knee if you weren't actually allowed to do it?