Review: The Downfall of a Good Girl by Kimberly Lang

 

Title: The Downfall of a Good Girl

Author: Kimberly Lang

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Southern debutante Vivienne LaBlanc can’t believe bad-boy rock star Connor Mansfield is back in town for the New Orleans annual Saints and Sinners pageant. He has a reputation as wicked as his devilish smile, and Vivi has no intention of becoming one of his latest groupies! He once crushed her high school heart, so playing the saint to Connor’s sinner should be easy. But how can Vivi get those less-than-angelic thoughts out of her head-especially when Connor’s so good at tempting her to be bad?


Review:

I struggled with The Downfall of a Good Girl.  I never felt a connection with Vivi, the story’s protagonist.  She is everything that I am not.  She comes from one of New Orleans’ oldest and wealthiest families, she is a former beauty queen, and now she spends her days running an art gallery and volunteering for various charitable causes.  I am fortunate to run a brush through my hair and pull it back into a ponytail on a daily basis, so a former pageant competitor was difficult from me to relate to.  The plot revolves around the annual Saints and Sinners fund-raising competition, where Vivi is pitted against her childhood nemesis, Connor Mansfield.  Connor and Vivi have been at loggerheads forever, and Vivi is dismayed to discover that Connor, now a successful rock star, will be her competition.  She had never considered that he would be chosen to be the Sinner, and she’s not happy about it at all.  She is extremely competitive, she hates to lose, and for a majority of the book, she is a poor loser just at the thought of losing.  If I met her, I don’t think we would ever be buds.

Connor is reeling from a scandal, and though he proves that the gossip about him is false, he’s still reluctant to put himself in that kind of position again.  When he meets Vivi again, he thinks he’s safe.  He doesn’t even like this woman, and she hates him.  Ever since that flash of temper when they were teens and she publically slapped him, they have been like oil and water.  What Connor doesn’t know is that Vivi once carried a torch for him, but after realizing that he was only using her to get to know her friend better, she can’t find it in herself to forgive him.  Worse, her family and Connor’s are very close, and they have been thrown together since childhood.  Forget that gentle, Southern belle non-sense – she doesn’t want to be nice to him, so she usually isn’t.

While I did enjoy the sparks between them, Vivi’s personality grated on me.  She determines from the beginning that she is going to win the contest by raising the most money, but when Connor is unveiled as the opposition, she gives up before things even begin.  Instead, she charges herself to be a better person than Connor, though even that’s a struggle for her.  Why is he back in town, stealing her thunder?  This was supposed to be her moment to shine, not Connor’s!  This thought process annoyed me, because it is the charity’s moment to shine, and the fact that Vivi was allowed to participate should have been honor enough.  She’s been denied few material things in life, but in terms of personal accomplishments, she is lacking.  She was runner up in the Miss American pageant, and she is steamed to be second best again.

Once Vivi loosens up a little and finally lets go, jumping into an affair with Connor, the pacing of the book picks up significantly.  Their competition becomes fun, and they both focus on doing their best to raise as much money for the charity as they can.  Vivi is having the time of her life, until Connor starts thinking about making New Orleans his home base.  Suddenly, their temporary affair isn’t such a good idea anymore.  She doesn’t want to risk her heart to him, and as long as their arrangement was temporary, there was no threat to her emotions.  Her attitude about trying to stick with Connor permanently pissed me off.  Instead of gambling on that ever elusive HEA, she decides that it’s not worth the effort.  If I had been Connor, I would have been furious.  It’s okay to have a fling, but not okay to try to make things work out permanently?  If Connor had walked away at that point, I wouldn’t have blamed him.

I loved the setting for The Downfall of a Good Girl, and the book would have made my TBR pile just because of that. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t click with the heroine, and that some pacing issues at the beginning of the story prevented my from feeling engaged in Connor and Vivi’s romance.

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jessica Hart, Author of Hitched!

Today Jessica Hart is visiting the virtual offices to talk about her latest release, Hitched!  This is one of the Harlequin KISS launch titles, and I’m thrilled to have Jessica here.  On Friday, I will be giving away one complete set of the KISS launch titles, so make sure to stop back to enter for your chance to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jessica Hart] Loves history, lists & wide horizons. Loathes litter, lies & misused apostrophes. Hopeless at being concise.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What makes Harlequin’s Kiss line unique from their other series romance?

[Jessica Hart]  A sharp contemporary edge and a sense of fun.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you enjoy best about writing for Harlequin?

[Jessica Hart] Connecting with readers around the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Hitched?

[Jessica Hart] Engineer Frith is a woman with a plan, and it doesn’t include weddings of any kind. But when she’s roped into organizing a hen party for her spoilt half-sister, she ends up relying more than she wants on her annoying neighbour George … and before long a wedding doesn’t seem quite such a terrible idea after all.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jessica Hart] A glossy magazine leapt into my hands one day, the way they do, and it seemed rude not to glance through it. There was a story in it about a billionaire’s younger daughter who was having some extraordinarily ostentatious wedding. She was described as the apple of her father’s eye and almost as an aside the article mentioned that her older sister was going to be a bridesmaid. I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to be that sister who was clearly not the apple of her father’s eye, and so Frith started to come to life. I wanted her to be someone who didn’t belong in her family, so I made her a half-sister and gave her a fraught relationship with her father and a determination to prove that she could manage by herself. And then I thought about the kind of man who would challenge everything Frith thought she wanted, and along came George …

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Frith?

[Jessica Hart] Loyal. Prickly. Honest.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing George won’t leave the house without.

[Jessica Hart] Treats for his horses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in George’s pockets?

[Jessica Hart] A list. An electronic organizer. A mirror.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Frith’s greatest regret?

[Jessica Hart] Letting grief and loneliness make her vulnerable to humiliation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jessica Hart] Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Loretta Chase, Nora Roberts, Jenny Crusie, Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jessica Hart] My iMac. No distractions. A looming deadline.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jessica Hart] The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jessica Hart] Honestly? About Teddy Robinson by Joan G. Robinson. This was my favourite book when I was four. I used to scream with laughter, and insist that not a single page was missed. A perfect lesson in how a well-written story can make you believe utterly in the characters – and it still makes me laugh! After that, it would probably be Anne of Green Gables.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jessica Hart] It sounds boring, but I’m transcribing some 16th-century court records that are fascinating. That’s my labour of love. Otherwise, I like to cook and eat and plan holidays, and I spend far too much time sloping out for coffee or a drink even when I’m supposed to be writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jessica Hart] Come find me on Facebook, or through my website – I’d love to hear from you!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Hart/197786216977996

www.jessicahart.co.uk

jessica@jessicahart.co.uk

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Have a wonderful day!

[Jessica Hart] You too, and many thanks for the invitation to the Manga Maniac Café!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Hitched! from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below. Be sure to check back at the end of the week for your chance to win a set of the first four KISS titles!

About the book

Planning the most-talked-about wedding of the year is enough to break engineer Frith Taylor out in a cold sweat. She’s used to construction sites, not wedding fairs! But estate manager George Challoner’s offer of help is one that’s too good to resist. George may be the rebel of the prestigious Challoner family, but his insanely good looks are giving Frith wedding fever! Charm personified, he’s making her feel things she hasn’t dared feel before. Maybe her little sister’s wedding won’t be the only one Frith’s planning…?

About the author:

Jessica’s earlier career was a haphazard one, including stints as foreign newsdesk secretary in London, cook on an Australian outback cattle station, TEFL teacher in Jakarta and interpreter on expedition in Cameroon. She first stumbled into writing as a way of funding a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, and since then she has written 59 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon’s Romance/RIVA series. A multiple finalist and past winner of both a RITA (Christmas Eve Marriage, Best Traditional Romance 2005) and the UK’s coveted Romance Prize (now the RoNA Rose Award), Jessica was awarded the National Readers’ Choice Award (Traditional category) for her 50th book, Last-Minute Proposal, in 2009 and again in 2010 for Cinderella’s Wedding Wish.

Jessica lives in York, a historic city in the north of England, and also writes ‘time slip’ novels as Pamela Hartshorne.

To find out more about Jessica, visit her website, www.jessicahart.co.uk, or find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Hart/197786216977996