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Double Clutch: A Brenna Blixen Novel: 1

Double Clutch: A Brenna Blixen Novel (Volume 1) - Liz Reinhardt One of the things I love most about books and reading is the fact that they’re so subjective. Each person brings to their reading experience something personal and unique, and leaves with a slightly different interpretation. Add to this individual tastes and preferences, and the field of opinion gets fascinatingly broad. For every person who loves fantasy, there is someone who prefers contemporary. For every person who thinks the love interest is mysterious and enticing, there’s someone who thinks s/he’s a swaggering arse-hat. And for those of my friends who adored Double Clutch (and whose opinions I respect and value), there’s me. I have mixed feelings about this story and overall, while I thought it was fun and rather cute in parts, I didn’t love it. But credit where credit is due: this is a solid contemporary, upper YA romance that will probably appeal to fans of Jennifer Echols’ work. Double Clutch incorporates a new slant on the general high school scenario, and Brenna is a girl with clear interests and goals. There is a compelling dynamic between the three central characters and the tension between them is well-crafted, the triangulated attraction maintaining enough strength to carry the plot. The love interests are both flawed which includes some truly jerk-ish behaviour on both their behalves, to be honest and interesting in their own ways, which keeps the realm of possibility wide open and both options viable, rather than the lop-sided and clearly biased triangles to be found in some YA novels. The story could have been finessed with some tighter editing, particularly of the descriptive and expositive passages, which at times get repetitive and tedious. There are portions that go a little too far into the minutiae of Brenna’s clothes, surroundings and actions, filling us in on each moment of her day when it’s not necessary and slowing the pacing down to a crawl. (This is also the first time I’ve seen the adjective “awesomely” used in print. Or e-ink. Whatever.) Conversely, Reinhardt writes great dialogue – the voices of her teen characters feel authentic and lend a sense of normality to a situation which feels, honestly, more wish-fulfilment than strictly realistic. (Unless I am just the odd one out here, and everyone else found themselves at the centre of a steamy attraction-fest at 15?) But if the intention is to create an, er, gripping scenario balanced on a knife edge of secrets, past conflict and undeniable chemistry, then I think the goal is achieved and then some. It will be interesting to see whether this strong tension can be sustained over the course of two additional books without labouring the triangle into torturously back-and-forth territory. Yet, there is something about this story that I balked at. For a book that I believe is intended to be sex-positive and up-front about physical intimacy, I found that message was muddied by some conflicting and unflattering portrayals of other characters. I really don’t want to start on a particular scene where a group of girls are described as practically “clawing and hissing” in their jealous rage and generally depicted as one-note, scantily-clad, “back-stabbing hooker want-to-be’s” because I could talk for hours about how much this bothers me. Particularly as it seems to serve to highlight the division between Brenna as “good” and these girls from Jake’s past as “bad”. While Brianna is accepting of Jake’s past sexual experiences and their “love” conquers any reservations she has about his widely known history, I feel like that is damaged by the (conscious or unconscious) demonising of the girls who took part. It (possibly unintentionally) reinforced an archaic and stereotypical double standard, and undoes much of the book’s otherwise positive and open attitude. Interestingly I found the story between Jake and Saxon more intriguing than their respective interactions with Brenna, and I hope that the sequel delves further into their relationship, rather than just spinning out the romantic angst.I’m willing to chalk this one up to just being “not for me”. A few of my friends have enjoyed this, and I’d recommend it to those looking for an entertaining YA romance with good chemistry between the characters.