by Chanel Cleeton
Series: I See London #1
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change— and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for. When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can’t seem to keep her hands off of. Half French, half Lebanese, and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he’s everything she can’t resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.
I See London is the debut novel for author Chanel Cleeton and the first in the, I See London series, a new adult contemporary romance. A coming of age novel with friendship, firsts and romance this proved to be an interesting tale. Mini review: Romance, friendship, parties and exploration abroad made this a fun read.
Maggie Carpenter spent her whole life striving to attend Harvard, and when she is rejected, she accepts a scholarship to the International School of London, an elite university that caters to the privileged. She steps out of her comfort zone loosens up and tried to embrace the social side of the college experience. She is seriously attracted to the college bad boy and finds herself casually dating a slightly older British man while dreaming of the bad boy. Filled with firsts, and friendship this romantic contemporary has us traveling Europe and sharing forbidden moments.
Cleeton introduced an array of multi-culture characters and gave them unique voices while exposing their flaws, problems and social interactions. Maggie was abandoned by her mother, and raised by her grandparents while her absentee father traveled extensively for his job. Her teen years were spent studying to achieve her goals leaving her little time for friendship let alone kisses. She is eager for love and to embrace life to the fullest. Sometimes she is confused, awkward, and a tad smitten by a ridiculously wealth half French, half Lebanese ladies man. Samir Khouri doesn’t do relationships, and he confuses the heck out of Maggie as he befriends her, and then flirts relentlessly. There are these moments when he says the most tender things, unlike a boy looking for just a good time. Cleeton slowly peeled back Samir’s layers allowing us to see that he is more than the shallow, fun loving tramp he personifies. Enter, Hugh a successful twenty-eight year old bar owner who shows an interest in Maggie. They are dating, but he’s made it clear he isn’t looking for commitment and while he seems like the perfect guy, thoughts of Samir keep popping up. While this appears to be a triangle trust me when I say, it isn’t really. Maggie may be sharing some kisses, but she honestly is conflicted. Watching her figure it out was quite a ride. Maggie has roommates and friends at the university, and I loved how diverse and complex they were. We actually get threads of their lives as Cleeton forms a little small-town community vibe.
I See London offered some uniqueness to this already saturated genre from the university abroad to the travels amongst the elite and privileged. Cleeton has a nice flow to her writing, and the prologue shows us an event and then we step back in time to ten months prior. The characters were all a little damaged or unsure of themselves making this coming of age tale about everything from first loves to family issues and I enjoyed seeing this side of the characters. Maggie was sweet, unsure and at times snarky. She struggles as her body and heart tell her one thing, and her brain screams no. While I would have preferred a little more communication between the characters, Cleeton acknowledges their fears and insecurities, but I wanted someone to put it out there. Instead, we encountered a game of cat and mouse and suffered through some hot and cold moments. Thankfully there was no insta-love and the other characters created a nice balance to the romantic thread. I never doubted whom Maggie would end up with and while we see progress the ending still left things tender and unresolved. Cleeton is taking her time developing this romance, and I appreciated it, even as it frustrated me. Despite the bumps and twists, it felt tender and genuine. I have to talk about the setting, we see a lot of Europe, and while Cleeton talks about a lot of wonderful sites I wish the details were more than those of the people in their hustle and bustle down busy streets.
A solid start to a new series, I See London offered a unique twist to the new adult genre. For those looking for a small-town vibe in a university setting I think you will enjoy this fresh new tale. London Falling the second book is scheduled to release this year as Maggie begins her sophomore year of college.
Three and half cups of coffee out of five
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