Title: The Downfall of a Good Girl
Author: Kimberly Lang
May Contain Spoilers
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.
Review copy provided by publisher