Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Boyfriend Bet by Chris Cannon

Zoe Cain knows that Grant Evertide is way out of her league. So naturally, she kisses him. Out of spite. Not only is Grant her brother’s number-one nemesis, but he has zero interest in being tied down to one girl. She’s shocked—and secretly thrilled—when they start spending more time together. Non-exclusively, of course, but that doesn’t mean Zoe can’t change his mind, one PDA and after-school detention at a time.

Zoe’s brother claims Grant is trying to make her his “Ringer,” an oh-so-charming tradition where a popular guy dates a non-popular girl until he hooks up with her, then dumps her. Zoe threatens to neuter Grant with hedge clippers if he's lying but Grant swears he isn’t trying to trick her. Still, that doesn’t mean Grant is the commitment type—even if winning a bet is on the line.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains multiple PDAs, after-school detentions, and gambling on the side.
Warning: betting on a boyfriend is bad for your health.

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Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I didn't read book #1 in the Boyfriend Chronicles, but I personally felt like book #2 could be read as a standalone book. From what I understand The Boyfriend Bet takes place in the same world as the first book in this series, but with new characters, which made it easy to follow.

Zoey Cain is a local girl who just transferred to the private high school in her area. She immediately meets Grant, who just happens to be her brother's nemesis. So, of course she decides to kiss him right on the spot just to annoy her brother! And so it begins...

I really liked Zoey, she was fun, sassy, and confident. Also, Zoey and Grant had great chemistry, especially while making all those baked goods in the kitchen! Now, let’s not forget Zoey's Grandma, Monica, who was such a TREAT! Although, I really liked Zoey's best friend, Delia, and I totally thought they made quite the duo, but I did find it a little annoying that it seemed like they did everything together. Nonetheless, I thought it was an enjoyable quick read. It seemed like an appropriately placed YA romance for ages 16+. The Boyfriend Bet is definitely a charming tale and I think most readers (even the older crowd) will enjoy it. I look forward to seeing what Chris Cannon whips up next!

The Boyfriend Bet is the second title in the Boyfriend Chronicles series. Its connection to Blackmail Boyfriend is via Jane – Zoe's cousin.

There was a lot to love in The Boyfriend Bet. It started out sassy, take-no-prisoners, with quirky characters from young adults to the grandparents. I appreciated the addition of two introverts, one young and one a parent, but not the implications that they have no backbones and the inability to make a decision, while both are an introvert's strong-suit. The need to ask questions and 'figure' someone out was highly accurate. Our narrators were most definitely extroverted, so the balance was nice.

What started out strong, became redundant with repeating the same actions over and over again, with the same reactions received. Zoe wanted to be Grant's one and only (I'm not sure why, as he had hardly any redeeming qualities shown), but Grant only wanted to date, and he would rub other girls in Zoe's face – and every girl in the book wanted Grant – but his narration made it sound like he was clueless to the disrespect, even getting mad when Zoe pointed it out, like she was an irrational, crazy female. (I have no idea where all these rich, long-legged blondes were coming from.)

Grant's narration, even to the end, made it difficult to buy that he wanted a relationship with Zoe. I understand not wanting a happily ever after in high school, where you just want to date and be friends. If that's what you want, and the girl you're dating thinks otherwise, cut her loose. If you want more, and the boy won't commit, cut him loose. You are NOT compatible, and neither party is wrong. But if you stay together, it becomes TOXIC, NOT romantic.

The constant need to weigh whether or not Grant wanted Zoe by comparing his quirky, spunky, poor girlfriend against his standard of beauty (blonde, rich, long-legged, and shallow) was hard to swallow. No guy who is a player doesn't recognize his counterpart in girls, girls who are disrespecting his girlfriend by hanging all over him. No guy like Grant would allow his ex to yank around him, his family, and his current girlfriend unless he wanted her in his life because it made him feel important to be fought and fawned over. Even at the end, because there weren't enough pages to show an evolution, I didn't feel secure in their relationship.

Why the entire star drop from one book to the next for me? While I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Bet, and read it ravenously page after page, the author utilized plot points from the first in the series. Rich, hot boy dating the poor, farm girl. Guy's family doesn't approve. Guy isn't sure if the girl is hot enough for him, and she never knows if they are truly dating – he says bluntly to her face how she isn't enough, earning a visceral reaction in the reader. The narrator's BFFs dating each other too (but what was sweet in book one, was awkward and uncomfortable in book two, and it wasn't because he was an introvert). Then there is the brother – the brother who doesn't want them to date.

Don't get me wrong, all of that works, and those utilized plot points were written in a vastly different way to form an engaging story, but reading the books back-to-back highlighted the fact. But where it didn't work, I truly believed Bryce wanted Haley in book one, but I didn't believe that Grant wanted Zoe during book two.

While book three may have the same points (fingers crossed it's Zoe's brother's book), it will be a while between reading this installment and the next, so it won't be as obvious. Anyone reading these books back-to-back will be hit with the wash-rinse-repeat formula.

Zoe kissed Grant to upset her brother, who was competitive with Grant in all things. Where I thought Haley from the previous book was level-headed, Zoe was impulsive, which came across as catty, mean-spirited, and immature at times. On the outside, she appeared to truly stand up for herself, yet she allowed Grant to do the SSDD to her multiple times, which, contradictory to her actions, showed a lack of backbone. Yes, I felt Zoe justifiable in her reactions, but at some point she had to take responsibility for Grant hurting her over and over again, because she never truly stood up for herself.

But, Erica... ?!? It's romantic and Zoe did stand up for herself.

Yes, Zoe does stand up for herself. But there is a manipulative, almost abusive bent to both of Zoe and Grant's actions. Something toxic. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Grant's hot and cold, grass-is-greener attitude was fool me 10+ times. When it reached the breaking point, Grant had to audacity to make Zoe feel at fault. You didn't trust me!

Um... sorry, bub, but trust is earned, and I'm not sure at what point any has been earned. But Zoe caved, felt bad and apologized for being repeatedly attacked by Grant's ex-girlfriend. So the ex's lies are Grant's responsibility, not Zoe's, as he is the common denominator. THEN Zoe has to prove she trusts Grant, when he never earned it. So that felt like abuser and the victim behavior to me, and this is coming from a survivor of domestic violence, and I didn't appreciate this toxicity infecting a young adult novel that young girls and boys would read and think it romantic or acceptable behavior.

While I liked the story, enjoyed aspects of all the characters, the constant level of disrespect was too much for me to handle. The family members, and bizarre side romance of the BFFs (bizarre, as I'm an introvert (INTJ) and I didn't understand the friend's personality) lightened the mood. The comedy gold was the grandparents dating. The PDA and detentions got old. Fast. Yet it happened over and over again.

Anyone who hasn't dealt with abuse will probably miss the toxic connotations to Zoe and Grant's relationship – from both sides (his hot/cold and her raging jealousy, which was supposed to be 'cute'). I'm not saying they won't grow out of it, and there was a slight evolution as the book came to a close, which made me happy.

If I had a daughter or son, I would want to discuss the book, as I wouldn't want her/him modeling herself/himself after any of the characters – boys like Grant grow up to cheat and be abusive, at the very least selfish and blind, because girls like Zoe continue to love them when they are disrespectful and purposefully hurtful. The girl can't be perfect enough for them, can't do enough, change enough, as the problem is inside the guy – he'll need constant validation from girls/women wanting him, and that doesn't change overnight because of LOVE. (romance novel or not) Not getting what they want is the only way they will learn the lesson – they have to lose you, but not as a trick or trap. Actually lose you – forever – so the next girl like you isn't destroyed, but maybe treated with respect instead after the jerk emotionally matures. Even at the end, Grant didn't deserve a girlfriend – not yet. He needed to grow up first – his mentality has to change, and that doesn't happen through love but experience.

Another thing I would discuss with young adults is the ex-girlfriend. If a guy doesn't want you, traps/tricks/manipulations/breaking him up with his girlfriend/stealing him from his girlfriend is desperate and learned behavior that is unacceptable. The ex and all the other girls who knew Grant was taken, they weren't disrespecting Zoe, they were disrespecting themselves AND Grant. I wouldn't want a guy who was so easily led astray. Weak. He'd look weak, and he'd deserve the misery with the desperate woman, and they'd be miserable with their stunted emotions. You can't 'steal' a guy – a guy can't be 'stolen' from you – they leave. Even if she managed to get Grant back, you can't keep someone who doesn't want to be there. So I don't understand this type of woman, even though I know many exist. Same with Zoe – if she feared Grant looking at other girls, constantly grazing the field, then the relationship isn't strong enough to last.

If someone you want wants you back, they'll find a way to be with you. If it's this hard, and takes tricks to get them, then they never wanted you in the first place. All that hard work won't pay off, because the relationship will break.

Advice from a grown woman, and I have no idea why there is never a grown woman perspective given to the girls in the novel, so girls reading it can digest the advice. The mothers are always shallow, have agendas, deceased or absent, or off their rockers.

My commentary aside, I do recommend this author, this series, and this book, as I feel most readers will fall into the story and find it humorous, fluffy & light, and addictively angsty. But anyone who has suffered abuse will spot the signs, which I believe was unintentional by the author.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing.

Also Available in the Boyfriend Chronicles Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Blackmail Boyfriend post.

Award winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies.

Connect with Chris

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Boyfriend Bet (Boyfriend Chronicles #2) by Chris Cannon to read and review.

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