Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What She Deserves by Ellie Marvel

TITLE: What She Deserves
AUTHOR: Ellie Marvel
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 35k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $4.50

At her ten-year high school reunion, Winnie Sampson wants to prove to everyone she’s no longer the nerd she was back then, especially her schoolgirl crush Chase McKnight. Her knockout entrance is spoiled by running into her biggest academic rival, but she isn’t the only one who’s changed. Peter Duvall is successful, gorgeous, and now the center of attention. Winnie wants nothing more than to leave him behind, just like her nerdy past, but something about him refuses to be ignored. Lucky for Peter, that’s exactly how he planned for this night to go…

Let’s make it clear up front. There is absolutely nothing new or original about this novella. High school reunion stories, where the girl goes back to knock everybody dead, are a dime a dozen, probably because so many women are likely to entertain that very same fantasy. It’s rare to find anything unique in these, yet there is always hope that just maybe, this one will break the mold. Unfortunately, this one didn’t.

The story is the same. Nerdy girl in high school comes back looking drop dead gorgeous, determined to make everybody notice. Nerdy boy in high school comes back looking drop dead gorgeous, too. UST prevails.

Because when it comes right down to it, that’s what this story offers. The sexual tension between Winnie and Peter builds slowly but surely, until finally their relationship gets consummated in a fantastic massage scene that explodes. I want to stress that “slowly.” At the story’s start, Winnie is so bitchy toward Peter – for what seems like very immature and unprovoked reasons – that I almost gave up on the novella. I didn’t want to sit here and read about a shrew. She gradually relaxes, though it takes a couple chapters, and the tension shifts from frustration to sexual. Peter is appropriately charming, though the passage of time has made him just a little too perfect to be truly believable. He says more than once about how he’s pushed Winnie too far, but I didn’t see it. Many of his comments seem more bantery and flirtatious than anything else, not nearly enough to agitate Winnie to the degree she gets upset (don’t even mention her paranoia about why he hasn’t kissed her yet, that was just silly and extreme, even for her).

The characters are all stock stereotypes – the bubbly cheerleaders, the asshole jock with anger management issues when he drinks, and so on. They circle around the hero and heroine in familiar patterns, and often not very likable ones. Peter gets a lot of positive attention from the others in the story – mostly for his looks and success – but honestly, he seemed like the only one I would give positive attention to. When Winnie finally gets to spend time with Chase (her high school crush), she gets exhilarated by all his catty comments about all the people at the reunion. It fits with Winnie’s personality, but doesn’t endear her to me at all.

But like I mentioned before, the UST in this, once it gets going, is fantastic. The prose is swift, clean, and sexy, and there is real chemistry between the two leads. That’s the one thing that makes this anything remotely memorable. Because the characters and the plot sure aren’t going to do it.


8/10 – Great build-up of UST


6/10 – Has become a little too perfect


6/10 – Relatable but unremarkable

Entertainment value

6/10 – The UST is the only thing that makes this memorable

World building

6/10 – Just enough to keep it real



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