This book was on sale, it got pimped heavily on Smart Bitches, I bought it without thinking too hard or checking reviews or anything. And while I enjoyed it deeply--it pretty much wiped out my day today reading it--it did not go as I expected. It's a romance but uh...well, there's spoiler territory there.
Anyway: Ella is a driven girl who's earned a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford for a year. She's also sortakinda working long distance for a presidential candidate (to be honest, I'm not sure how this works over a phone but she does seem to be advising the campaign a lot). She has plans. She's only in Oxford for one term, she hands in her dissertation, and on June 11, she is outta there to work on that presidential campaign!
You know what God says about laughing when you make plans, right? This is why I don't make any myself.
At first you think it's gonna be a meet cute romance in which the woman ends up having to decide between love and a career. There's a "meet mad" sort of meeting in which a "posh prat" nearly hits Ella with a car and then ruins her shirt in the fish n' chips pub they both end up in. Clearly this fellow is devastatingly hot with long hair, golden voice, and sparklingly hilarious dialogue that makes him so obviously leaps and bounds above his dumb date. Ella has much to roll her eyes about before being able to answer when the potato famine was and call him an asshole on her way out.
Then she goes to the poetry seminar she was looking forward to with a big shot professor, and finds out that oh, the professor can't teach so here's her favorite TA... and yes, it's that posh prat, now known as Jamie Davenport. AWKWARD. And Jamie is devastatingly hot and an awesome lecturer and has personality and flair and I love hearing him talk. I also liked how he assigned them all a paper that is essentially "Write about a poem you like like it's a friend." Ella takes her lifelong intellectual school nerd approach to that (one of the culture shock things for her is that England is oddly laid back on things like syllabi and hand raising, yet god forbid you say "Oxfordian" incorrectly) and it turns into "I picked that poem because I hear you're a manwhore" when they discuss her paper. AWKWARD...but not for long since the sexual chemistry (combined with intellectual nerdery) kicks in. Soon the knickers are coming off, but they agree that it's only temporary under the circumstances. They will try to keep it casual, even maybe breaking it off for a month when Jamie is occupied.
For those of you wondering, uh, shouldn't professors not be sleeping with their graduate students at least until the class is over, well, it's England, and they don't care about that sort of thing over there! But Jamie seems to have some kind of drama going on behind the scenes--he mentions getting bad news on the day they met, Ella sees him and his dad having a fight before office hours, there's stuff going on with his brother. I admit I didn't guess where it was going, but.... that means the rest of this review goes below the spoiler cut because when Ella finds out, it changes everything and raises the stakes. Suffice it to say she's going to have to choose one or the other (but you knew that), but with different stakes than you and she thought.
Here's a hint at what I mean, should you want to sort of get an idea without whopping spoilage. I want to caution folks who may be sensitive to reading certain things that may not end 100% HEA. Hell, I'm kind of one of those people, which is why I wish I'd known beforehand. That said, it was still a good and addicting read and I just wasted doing other things on my day off to read it instead.
This plot is also going to be a movie at some point, and I admit that the casting of it (or at least this rumor mill casting? not sure if this is continuing) sounds spot on.
I have a hard time reviewing this without spoiling, so the rest of the review is going to go below the spoiler cut. I will say that the characters are endearing (especially Jamie, seriously, he's fun, and his mom is adorable and sweet). There's a beta romance between Maggie and Tom, a fellow who is sweet but is like trying to catch a butterfly when having a conversation. It ends on what I'd say is a "happy for now," so make of that what you will.
Overall I give it four stars despite the ethical dilemmas of banging a professor, but this is more serious than a fun fluff international romance, so keep that in mind.