Book Review

Book Review: Rule by Jay Crownover.

RuleOpposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want – and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess – and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw – even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love… or each other.

I have to be honest and say that I don’t read many New Adult novels at all. I’m a big fan of adult romance novels, but there hasn’t been a lot to make me want to dip into the New Adult selection – mainly I think because it has turned out to be something entirely different to what I’d expected it would be (but that’s a blog post all in its own right). I had Katie McGarry’s books recommended to me and loved those so when the same recommender (thanks Liz!) told me about Jay Crownover’s books I knew I needed to give them a try. I’m so glad I did, having now read the first two books I’ve found I love them as dearly as any series I’ve loved in a while.

This book uses a dual narrative, both Rule and Shaw share in the story telling duties. I think this works really well for this sort of story, when emotions are such a driving force behind interactions I want to understand both characters rather than seeing one of them only through the other’s eyes. It does of course mean that when one or both of the characters are being stupid you both understand why they’re being stupid and find yourself wanting to shout at them both. Or maybe that’s just me getting over-invested in things?

Rule gets the opening chapter of the book and had captured my attention well before the end of it, he’s an intriguing character and I want to get to know him and what makes him tick. The reader gets to meet Shaw in this first chapter too, but the version of Shaw that Rule sees – when she takes over the narrative in the second chapter you quickly come to realise that the real Shaw is pretty different to Rule’s version. Again my attention was well and truly captured, my reading pace picked up a little.

In addition to the two main characters the author has created a whole cast of interesting supporting characters, from Shaw’s friend Ayden to Rule’s coworkers in the tattoo shop. I was really pleased to see that the subsequent books in this series, Marked Men focus on these supporting characters – I actually downloaded the second book Jet as soon as I finished reading Rule. Whilst I loved all of the men that Rule’s friends with my favourite of the supporting characters was Cora, I can’t wait for it to be her turn to be in the spotlight.

Like all good romance novels the will they won’t they doesn’t focus so much on whether the couple will get together, but instead on whether they’ll make it work. The stumbling block that they experience was not remotely what I’d expected, but it definitely fit the characters very well. It was one of those revelations that made so much sense of much of the story that had come before, the sort of thing that makes me look forward to re-reading the book with this new knowledge. I loved the way their relationship didn’t exist in a vacuum, with such a tight knit group of friends the repercussions were broader and more genuine as a result.

The New Adult age banding allows for adult style sex scenes, these are well written and appropriately steamy. This means of course that it’s not a book I’d be recommending to teenage readers. I know that this goes with the target audience but I think it bears repeating. Considering the New Adult label I have to say that this is the sort of book I want from New Adult, Shaw is a student and both she and Rule are still finding their way in the adult world. They’re juggling their adult lives with the pressures of family and expectation, and of finding their own path and way. If I drew up a list of what I wanted to see in a New Adult novel Rule would tick the core criteria and offers more still.

This book worked so well for me because I really cared about all the characters. This meant it completely clawed its way under my skin – once I’d started reading it I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night until I’d finished it. The overarching theme of the book is about being true to yourself, being the person you are regardless of the external forces trying to mould you into something altogether different. This is such an important message, and it’s conveyed really well in this book. It left me thinking after I’d finished reading, always the sign of a good book.

Rule is published by Harper in the UK. My copy of the book is one I purchased myself.

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