Don’t get me wrong, I do like most of Elle Kennedy‘s books. The writer is great at all of the things that I love in romance books – angst, drama, and love. She’s got some great series and so it pains me a bit to say that The Avalon Bay Novels are not a great series.
You may remember awhile ago, we reviewed The Good Girl Complex, which felt filled with plot holes and as if we’d read it before. It was as if she took all of the popular romance novels that had ever been written and tossed them together. It felt like things were thrown together to put out a novel during the pandemic.
And now, the sequel has come, and though I will tell you this – it is better than the first book, it is still definitely not great.
When former bad girl Genevieve West returns home for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Their history is rife with turbulence. And passion. A heck of a lot of passion… which she’s trying desperately to forget.
But it’s impossible not to run into Evan in the small coastal town where they once ran wild. And the moment she sees her gorgeous ex again, it’s clear to Gen that Evan is still as unruly, sexy, and irresistible as ever. This time around, however, she’s resolved to walk a new path. No more partying. No more foolish mistakes. Her plan is to temporarily remain in town to help her father run his business, but the second he finds somebody else, she’s out of there.
Evan has other ideas. He knows they can be good together, but he just has to convince Genevieve of that, even if it means turning over a new leaf himself. But can a bad reputation ever truly be shed? Do second chances really work? Genevieve and Evan are about to find out.
The premise is good, but my first issue is that Kennedy (to me) makes her female leads feel as though they are defined by the men in their lives – be it husbands, brothers, significant others – and makes their strength defined by the men in their lives.
And I just don’t feel like she ever changes out of that story.
The women in The Avalon Bay Novels, seem as if they’re supposed to be strong, independent and fierce, yet somehow we always find them defining themselves by other people.
Genevieve hasn’t had the best past. She’s made a lot of bad choices and it took her hitting rock bottom to find a way to pull herself up by her bootstraps. And she’s done a decent job of that. But when she heads back home the past comes back to haunt her.
She heads home for her Mom’s funeral, and even though she’s changed, it doesn’t mean that the world around her sees it that way. She’s judged by who she used to be versus who she’s become.
Genevieve has become a different person, but somehow her going home feels like she’s not allowing herself to believe that she’s worthy of better. It feels as though she thinks that this town defines her.
But I guess what they say is true – that whole you can’t outrun your past kind of thing. But the problem with this is that Genevieve seems to pay for the past, while others skate by.
Look, Genevieve and Evan as a couple – believable. But even so, their relationship is toxic. And I am not against writing about toxic relationships. I believe it to be something that happens and writing about them isn’t a bad thing. If anything it teaches the reader what they aren’t looking for and lets them see signs of what they don’t want in life.
The issue with Genevieve and Evan is that their love is like an addiction and one that they need to get over. I didn’t believe in their relationship, but in my opinion it is because Kennedy spends a great deal of time in this series telling us versus showing us.
And I think that is the biggest issue with this series. Kennedy had a chance to write something innovative and angsty, and the real opportunity to launch a series that is as good as her others.
But this book, like the first is filled with plot holes, telling and not showing, faulty story lines, a cast of unlikable characters, and women who define themselves by the men in their lives versus their own worth.
This series just isn’t great, it isn’t good, at best it is mediocre. Find a better book and don’t waste your time.