Monday, 25 July 2016

Review: Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame

4.5 stars

Imperfect Chemistry was the most enjoyable New Adult romance I've read in a long while (not that I read masses of them), and I loved it. Somehow, it managed to strike a near-perfect balance between light-hearted romantic comedy and serious NA issues like consent, parental approval and emotional dependency. It also provided several genuine surprises  along the way that were really delightful and brought the story away from cliche genius-girl-and-hot-boy territory. 

Having started university at the age of thirteen, Lucy is in the unique position of being a 20 year old with a PhD in microbiology. She's received a research grant to study emotion as a pathogen, but she's having trouble coming up with a hypothesis and methodology. After a disastrous stint in the university's counselling clinic leaves her no closer to an answer, she decides that maybe her neighbour, the mysterious Jensen, can help. The gossip on campus is that he's gone through a bad break-up, and done some serious rebounding, and Lucy thinks he can move her project forward in two ways. Firstly, she can ask him about these experiences, and then, since she seems to find him attractive, maybe he could help her experience some more personal emotions. 

Lucy's voice was very distinct, straightforward and scientific like the character herself. However, it changed over the course of the novel, as Lucy becomes less clinical and more accustomed to interacting with others. Throughout, the light relief that Lucy's friend Freya, Jensen and, increasingly, Lucy herself, provided was essential to counterbalancing the cerebral nature of Lucy's commentary. 

This leads to the not-entirely-positive thing I have to say about Imperfect Chemistry. The whole thing occurred in Lucy's POV, but the conflict in the romance arc comes from Jensen's side. Because of this, the conflict seems to come about very abruptly, and I felt some foreshadowing or set-up to this would have been well served. Quite apart from that, Jensen was just a very sweet hero, and I would have liked to have more insight into his thought processes and feelings about Lucy. The second book, about Freya, is dual-POV, and I have to say I did appreciate that. (I'm not going to write a review for Imperfectly Criminal, because it would be much in the same vein, also being a really good NA read with quirky characters). 

Usually, I read other books between instalments in the same series, because I find I engage less if I read one in a series straight off the back of another, but this is one case where I just had to keep going. So I read the second in the series, then I read one other book (which was a disappointment) and now I'm going to move on the third for another hit of funny-and-feelgood-but-not-fluffy. 

Frame has worked some serious magic so far in this series, and I find myself wishing she had more books in print. She must know she's going to get the reader hooked as well, because Imperfect Chemistry is free on Amazon (I repeat: FREE), and then the other two in the series...aren't (although they're still very reasonably priced). But even if it weren't free, I'd still recommend you pick it up. 

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