Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Title: The Fifteenth Minute
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Date Published: October 13th, 2015

Intro and Summary: Perhaps the most pleasurable book I've read so far this year, Sarina Bowen's The Fifteenth Minute proved to be a good choice as my first summer read. The fifth book in the Bowen's Ivy League series, The Fifteenth Minute follows a pair of college students: Lianne, a famous actress trying to blend in as a normal college student, and DJ, a hot (wait for it) DJ for Harkness' hockey team. Both want nothing but to be with one another, but a dark secret threatens to end DJ's college career and their budding relationship.

Spoiler Alert: The remainder of the review will feature spoilers. 

Review: My girlfriend recently took a class on romance novels, and after talking with her about the different books she read over the past few months, we decided to read one together to kick off the summer. In fact, The Fifteenth Minute was my first foray into the romance genre, and I have a feeling it certainly will not be my last.

Both Lianne and DJ were both realistic and empathetic characters. Within a few pages of the novel, I not only had a good feel for the characters, but I was invested in their stories. I'm sure part of my connection to the characters, Lianne in particular, stems from the subtle allusion to the Harry Potter series (which, frankly, I'm unsure if I'll ever be unable to not fanboy over), but the both the dialogue and awkwardness of their relationship felt authentic and matched up with my own view of college life and relationships.

I think there is also something to be said about the way Bowen also flips stereotypes, especially in a romance. DJ is short, especially in comparison with his tall, athletic roommates, and in this way he does not fit the typical ideal masculinity (if there really is such a thing). On the flip side, Lianne isn't just a beautiful and rich Hollywood actress; she attempts to conceal her identity behind a baseball cap and struggles with her own physical appearance and what to wear when seeing DJ. More, Lianne is also a crazy good hacker and video game player (characteristics typically ascribed to male characters) allowing her to act as both nerd and Hollywood actress. Ultimately, both Lianne and DJ are complex characters, and their layered identities make the novel a delight to read.

Of course as a romance, the novel was abound in sexy times, and they were certainly all of the hot. Most notable about these scenes, however, was the persistent need/desire for consent. This emphasis on consent partly stems from DJ's troubled legal case, but his continued push for explicit consent made this reader happy, especially considering the rapey nature of many romance novels, at least historically.

Although this is the final novel in Bowen's The Ivy League series, The Fifteenth Minute certainly works well as a standalone. While the secondary characters have their own arcs and stories earlier in the series, it is not necessary to know their full histories in order to enjoy them as characters, though I'm sure reading the entire series would have made for an even richer reading.

Overall, The Fifteenth Minute was quite fun and has pushed me to explore the romance genre some more.

Rating5/5 Stars

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