Rules of Attraction is the second novel in the “Perfect Chemistry Series” by Simone Elkeles. Now, I must admit I didn’t know that. I got carried away, had both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction on my Kindle... and started with the wrong book! I finished it and upon looking for the cover art for this very blog discovered my oopsie.
That being said... what I like about this series (having only read one book) is that you don’t need to read the first one, in order for the second to make sense. Both novel’s stand alone, have different (but similar stories) and some of the characters from book one make an appearance in book two but you’re not left with the distinct feeling you’ve missed something—which is good.
When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado . Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.
--Quoted from Goodreads
Now, like my last review I can literally hear the grumbles from your throat, feel the roll of your eyes as you stare at your computer screen and my blog. Another book, you say, with such a similar story line from the last book you reviewed, why, WHY are you making me read this review, you scream at your computer.
Well in answer, because I decided I’d read for the next few weeks all the books with overdone story lines for the sake of fun, and prove that there are enough differences in each to make them somewhat enjoyable—or in my case, really enjoyable. Now enough chatter and read the review. I’m sure, you won’t be sorry :)
Carlos Fuentes is a bad boy, fresh off of the plane from Mexico—where he’s spent the last year—Carlos is forced to change his life or die. He wears his tattoos as if they measure strength, loyalty and the pain he’s endured since childhood. They instantly label him but with a cocky attitude and an ego to match he doesn’t give anyone the chance to think differently—except when it comes to Kiara Westford.
She’s not your typical girl. You won’t see pom-poms attached to her hands at football games, or a clique of friends to push around, nor will you find a brat wearing her parents paycheques in the form of designer clothes. Kiara is a bit of a geek choosing to work on cars, mountain climb, and has a pesky problem where she can’t form a coherent sentence under pressure without stuttering.
The characters, in my opinion are what make this book. They’ve been thought out, created to have just enough difference then most. I like that even though Carlos is the bad boy, he’s not going for the cheerleader, sure Kiara’s a bit of a geek but she can stand on her own two feet. She’s not afraid to get dirty, prove that she can play soccer just as good as anyone and give Carlos a run for his money, when she doesn’t instantly drop dead from swooning over him.
When it comes to the story, it’s much the same as most. Drugs and gangs are the focus. Carlos idolized his big brother, and when he comes to live with him his opinions are shattered. Alex has been reformed, he’s gotten his life together—going to college, has a steady girlfriend and has nothing to do with gangs and drugs. Carlos doesn’t understand. He thinks his only direction in life is to be like the old Alex and doesn’t see any other options. People look at Carlos and automatically see a gangbanger from Mexico with no potential. But with Kiara, her knack for resisting his charm, he begins to understand that there might just be more to life. Instead of putting his efforts into drugs, alcohol and sex, he does just about everything he can to grab Kiara’s attention.
When someone stashes drugs into Carlos’ locker—framing him—he’s arrested, and kicked out of Alex’s home but is given a second chance when Kiara’s dad offers him a place to stay. From there Carlos get’s an inside look into the perfect Westford family, again making him realizes he has choices. And with Kiara in such close proximity, he opens his heart to her as she does the same. Though the drugs and his framing are never far from his mind, he has no choice but to figure out who set him up and he might just find himself part of a gang whether he likes it or not.
The chemistry between Carlos and Kiara is undeniable, even when they seem to hate each other they still have this remarkable connection, it’s steamy and sexy, and no question about it you beg to see more of them together. The parents are likable, involved and give a sense at just how important a family can be, even if they aren’t your own. With the action and excitement of gangs and love with each page turn the story evolves into so much more. I found I just couldn’t put it down until I got to the end. My only thought, is that the book blurb could have been so much catchier, in my opinion it just doesn’t show you just how great this book really is.
*Content Warning. I must say, just in case you missed it, there's sex, drugs and alcohol. Also a fair amount of profanity--the most I've read in awhile in a YA book.*