by Beth Reekles
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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A cool, sexy romance novel written by seventeen-year-old British sensation Beth Reekles. Meet Rochelle “Elle” Evans: pretty, popular—and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile—and a total player. When Elle decides to run a kissing booth at her school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer. This romance seems far from a fairy tale. Is Elle headed for heartbreak or will she get her happily ever after?
I first heard about Beth Reekles the seventeen-year British high school student on the Today Show when it was announced that she landed a three-book, seven-figure contract with Random House which includes her first novel the Kissing Booth. It was a sensation on the writer-reader Wattpad community and had over 20 million reads. I found myself curious so when Random House asked me to review the book I jumped at the chance. I am delighted that I did and very excited to see what this young author has in store for us next. The Kissing Booth offered us fleshed out, lovable characters, a swoon-worthy bad boy, friendship and first love.
The tale begins when we meet Rochelle “Ella Evans who is almost seventeen and never been kissed. Her best friend since forever is Lee, and he happens to share the same birthday. There Mom’s were best friends, they live around the corner from each other and the families interact. Now Lee has an older brother, the smexy, hot-head jock Noah Flynn. His friends all call him Flynn. He is a bad-ass, popular, a player and academically brilliant. Elle has crushed on him forever but he’s never treated her like anything but a kid sister that is until the Kissing Booth at the high school carnival. The tale that unfolds is sweet, complicated and one girl’s experience with first love.
Reekles does a wonderful job of fleshing out the main characters of Ella, Lee, and Noah. While the secondary characters easily fell into normal high school stereotypes, the main characters offered up something more. Ella is sweet, and in a lot of ways a typical teenager, she is confused by her feelings and her loyalties. At times she wavers back and forth as she tries to please everyone. She likes Noah but worries about how it will affect her friendship with Lee. While at times I wanted to shake her for all of her contemplating and secrets she really behaved the way one would expect someone her age to act. At times she showed a level of maturity I appreciated it. Ella and Lee together are a riot; two peas in a pod and all that. They really march to their own drum and make even silly ideas seem cool. Noah is complicated and smexy and oh boy does he know it. He flies off the handle and gets into fights but somehow avoids suspension. I really wanted to understand where some of his volatile personality came from and wish there was a tad more depth there. He is very protective of Ella and was at times almost possessive, but slowly we begin to see why or rather he does. We see growth in him and in all of the characters and how they communicate. The parents were present but as a parent, I cringed at some of their parental decisions and discussions.
The tale itself is your typical high school romance, complicated by Ella and Lee’s friendship and of course Noah’s bad boy image. Was there any surprise? Nope. Instead, it was a wonderfully paced coming of age tale about first love, friendship, and growth. The chemistry between Noah and Ella felt real, and while it started off physical it developed into something more. So often these tales have the girl drastically changing and it was refreshing that Ella didn’t go all gaga over Noah. Watching Ella discover her true feelings and dealing with the relationship was fun to watch unfold. There is implied sex and underage drinking. The parents seem to condone this behavior with remarks like “don’t drink too much” which made me want to rip my hair out! I guess if I were a seventeen-year-old writing about perfect parents this is how I’d want them to act instead of going all parental on me. I easily consumed this book in two sittings as it flowed easily, and the character interaction was engaging. The ending was beautifully done, and very realistic.
The Kissing Booth offers a sweet, funny, complicated tale of first love and friendship. It’s a light, fun read and highly entertaining. Beth Reekles will be an interesting author to watch. Kudos to Random House for signing this young author.