Release Date: 2/1/2022
Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.
Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.
Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.
This review has been hard for me to write, because normally I love Elle Kennedy’s books. She’s always been able to weave words in a way that feels brand new and romantic. Everything has always been enticing. I would get swept up in the pages.
But reading Good Girl Complex, I realized something – I wasn’t feeling that way. I was feeling as though she had smooshed a bunch of tropes and popular books into one and it felt like nothing new.
Actually it felt like a first draft of a novel.
I went into this book having high hopes, but what it felt like was a mixture of thoughts not fully developed. It wants to capitalize off the popularity of Outer Banks and every trope that ever existed.
I am all for the bad boy falls in love with the good girl, even though that’s not what he was meant to do. I love the good girl falling for the bad guy. What I didn’t love was this take on it. It was similar to a book that I don’t want to even say the title, because that author is a racist and she doesn’t deserve the attention.
I can see where Kennedy was going her, and being as it’s a series, surely she’ll fill in the things that were left wide open. Kennedy is good at writing angst and making you feel the height of that angst, but what she failed at in this novel was balancing it with practicality and life.
For instance the main character, MacKenzie is only going to college cause she’s forced to by her parents. BUT she owns this huge website, that no one apparently knows she owns, but that makes no sense cause her Dad is some high profile member of Congress and everyone would know. She’s rich from this site, so she’s obviously a great business woman.
But the website is only really mentioned to show that she has money. But then if you’re a good business woman, why are you buying a random run down hotel and how can you have that must disposable cash?
In the same breathe the only reason it comes across that she buys the hotel is as if it’s because she wants to find a way to connect more with Cooper and since he’s a carpenter, that works. Only she hasn’t told him that she’s independently wealthy. MacKenzie comes across as this weak, easily manipulated, impulsive girl and yet we’re supposed to believe that is the opposite of what she is.
Kennedy wrote a book that isn’t bad per say, but it’s characters are weakly written and every situation feels forced. There aren’t enough ways to say how underwhelming this book was and how desperately it needs a rewrite. Sadly, it made me reevaluate wanting to read more Elle Kennedy books.
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