Title: The Kissing Game
Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: February 4th, 2020
“I bet you a kiss you can’t resist me.”
Rena Jackson is ready. She’s worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she’s almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena’s also a diehard romantic, and she’s had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He’s got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he’s got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Rena’s about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.
At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He’s been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he’s way out of his depth and she’s slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play…
**Thank you to Netgalley, Sourcebooks Casablanca, and Marie Harte for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**
I was underwhelmed with this romance, contemporary novel. It was an easy read, but it just didn’t do much for me. I felt there were several main issues with the novel. Rena and Axel like each other, but neither has made the first move. Axel has some deep-seeded daddy issues and doesn’t think he could be good enough for Rena – he gets into a lot of fights and can be violet. Real macho stuff here. Rena is your cliched “wants a Valentine and husband” girl and makes no secret of that. She worries Axel just wants a fun night and not to love her forever so they make a bet, Axel will win her over by Valentine’s day (about a month away).
Okay. There is a lot happening in this book. Rena is described as being a WOC, but the representation left much to be desired. There were a lot of racist acts towards her in the book – but it wasn’t addressed super well and wasn’t cleared up. Also, Axel is described as tall, dark, and handsome – yet in fact he is a German, white, guy with “romance novel cover good looks”. It just didn’t add up.
The dialogue between Rena and Axel felt very forced and stiff. It never seemed like something someone would actually say during a real life conversation to each other. None of it made sense, and frankly they were both terrible with communicating with each other – but Rena wouldn’t accept that and placed all blame on Axel. It got under my skin because she is not a great character, even though she is sold as “sweet and innocent”.
Lastly, the romance was weird and the plot line happened so randomly and disjointed that it made no sense. They got from point A to point B in a bass ackwards way and none of it seemed realistic, like real people would have a romance in this fashion. The sex scenes were pretty good, but honestly no one woman almost orgasms from words and simple touches alone, I don’t care who you are.
Overall, I think there were problematic things with this book, which was disappointing because I was really looking forward to it based on the synopsis.02