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I’ll be honest. I only picked up this book because of the cover. It was a shallow moment, and I was thoroughly punished by the mess behind the cover.

In theory, it doesn’t sound so bad. Underground fighter falls for his beautiful and elusive neighbor. She doesn’t do serious relationships and he’s not looking for that anyway. They have their fun and realize that they’re meant for each other.

As the book begins, we’re pulled into Elizabeth’s memories of the worst night of her life. Her high school boyfriend, the boy she thought would love and protect her, drugged her, took her to a hotel, and raped her. I think it’s really important that I spell this out in my review. The book begins with Elizabeth’s rape. I didn’t expect this and it kind of threw me off for the first chunk of the book.

Anyway, fast forward a few years. Elizabeth is in college. She’s established some rules for herself so that she never finds herself in that sort of situation again. For one, she doesn’t fall in love. She doesn’t date anybody who’s too beautiful, or too wealthy, or at all violent. She stays away from drugs and alcohol. Basically, she avoids everything that reminds her of her ex. She does, however, do one night stands with safe boys.

Declan and Elizabeth meet at a party. Declan breaks all of her rules. He’s gorgeous. He exudes wealth. And he’s paid to hit people. Still, Elizabeth can’t stay away. She and Declan share the typical new adult misunderstandings. He thinks she’s dating her friend. She thinks that he’s getting back together with his ex. Even when they’ve established that they’re both single, they still do a weird, infuriating dance of will they or won’t they. Declan shoots down all of Elizabeth’s efforts. Elizabeth shoots down all of Declan’s efforts. It’s frustrating because there’s no point to it other than creating unnecessary conflict.

Even when they finally gave up their various excuses for why they couldn’t be together, I had trouble understanding what they actually saw in each other. Elizabeth put up so much of a fight over breaking her rules that I started to think it wasn’t worth it. After all, she had just as much chemistry with her coworkers, her friend Blake, Declan’s brother, and random strangers on the street as she did with Declan.

I ended this book feeling unsure whether this relationship would survive the week. That’s not what I look for in a romance.

The sad thing is that I think that this book could have been really good. Maybe if the author tried a little less to make it a modern Pride and Prejudice and focused instead on her own ideas, it would have been better. (After all, it’s very different from the Pride and Prejudice that I remember reading.) As I said earlier in my review, the premise of the book is not terrible. It could have been very engaging if not for all of the stupid, petty drama.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s theme is ten books set outside the United States. I had to really think about this one because most of the books I’ve read that are set outside of the US are actually fantasy books set in made up worlds!  I decided not to cheat and was able to come up with ten great books that take place in real countries that are not the US.

Here’s the list with links to Goodreads:

Do you have any favorite books set outside the US?