Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward

Stepbrother Dearest - Penelope Ward
You’d think she’d be a bitch because of her looks, but she was actually really nice.


Because good looks = bitch. Because logic is no longer logical.

There's no excuse for that opening quote being in the novel. Really, none. I wanted to puke a little when I read it, actually. I still want to. From one line alone. But whatever, it's New Adult so misogyny is almost a given. I won't spend this review ranting on the awful heroine, though. For once I'll focus only on themissing plot and writing.

Stepbrother Dearest is divided into two parts. One about how Greta and Elec meet when they are in high school. Elec is Greta's stepbrother, but they've never met until he comes to live with them when they're seventeen. For her it's lust at first sight, and I am this close to saying it's love at first sight for Elec. Except, all they do is fight. Because he wants to hate her since her mother took broke his family up, so Elec has decided he must hate his new stepsister. Anyone wants to guess what happens?

...

Did you guess they lust and fight? You're right. The entire first chapter is about Greta's jealousy and judgmental tone of all the girls Elec hangs out with and sleeps with, the lust between them, and Elec's horrible treatment of Greta. He is rude, nasty, and whatever adjective you find similar to those words. He is rude, she cries. They lust. The almost have sexual moments. They don't act on their attraction. They kiss. They fight, and so on. There's no character development, and there is no reason for why either of them "falls" for the other. But, they do. And the last night Elec stays with them, they do the deed, and after he up and leaves for seven years.

I would like to raise two point about the first part:
First, this is about two stepsiblings who are not related by blood, so it's not incest, but it is taboo. Yet, it's never treated as such. Neither Elec or Greta ever shows any greater hesitation for going further in their relationship. The parents are conveniently absent most of the plot, and there's no thrill in it.
Second, that, despite being an asshole, Greta still falls for Elec. They literally go from you're an asshole to I love you. There's no transitional stage of deeper emotions. And the author's lack of sensuality in her writing doesn't hate matter. I salute anyone who managed to connect to these characters, because it's incredibly hard to do when they're, as I've said many times before, flatter than paper. No depth to them. Nothing to make them unique or seem like real people.

So, given the lack of emotion in the narrative or proper development to their relationship, imagine what I felt when the first chapter in the second part starts off with statements such as these:

Even after seven years and a failed engagement to another man, my one true heartbreak had remained at the hands of my stepbrother.


and

I’d compared my feelings for them to my crazy attraction to Elec.


I wish to believe the author meant to show that Greta now understood that her feelings were nothing more than "attraction" and not love. But, given the first quote, I doubt that was the intention.

And with this we are thrown seven years into the future. Seven year is a long time, especially when you're in your early twenties. Those years will shape you, I can guarantee it. But, instead of showing any development in the characters, we are still left with two horny and immature people. Because when Elec's father dies, Elec and Greta meet again. They still lust for each other, and when Elec breaks down at the funeral, Greta and he takes off, just the two of them. And, add drama. Really, this is just a rehash of the first chapter with the whole lust deal. There is simply no substance to this.

I mean, this is ridiculous. The only focus is on their attraction, no substance, no plot, nothing. Just an endless stream of boring characters with no sympathy.

And whoever though it was a good idea to let the last 20% of the book to be a recap of every single thing that happened from Elec's POV, let me tell you this. It was the worst idea ever. It's as cheap as Walking Disaster by McGuire. It's all copy and paste with very little new information. News flash: readers can read between the lines. They don't need everything spelled out for them. Frankly, it pisses me off when authors do this.

Basically: A story with missing plot and poor execution. No focus on the taboo romance. Just cheap, trashy romance.

New Adult Project
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