Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “She wasn’t going to be that girl in the movies that changed the playboy into a monogamous, perfect husband. She was just Rebecca Washington, straight-A student, and prude extraordinaire.”
Rebecca Washington is your average college student; a little overly concerned with her grades (okay A LOT concerned), socially awkward, OCD, resistant to change, and prone to embarrassing rants of rambling when nervous. All of this becomes painfully obvious when her boyfriend of six months breaks up with her in public for being boring. She’s then hit on by the popular Derek Byrnes only to discover it was all a bet after she dumps her entire life story on him. To add insult to injury, Rebecca learns that Derek is now her partner for an Eng Lit project that will require her to do the worst possible thing in the world-speak in public.
Rebecca’s need to maintain absolute control over her GPA has her reluctantly spending more time with Derek to ensure their project is perfect. Each encounter causes Rebecca loosen up and let go of some of her need for control as her initial assessment of Derek being a carefree jerk slowly changes. Forced to acknowledge her growing feelings for Derek, Rebecca wonders if this is the real thing or is she setting herself up for another humiliation.
Jordan Gray’s debut Prude is a fun, sexy, emotional coming of age new adult that uses a unique approach to define the romance in this ambiguous NA setting. Crisp writing, indulgent humor, and an easy flowing storyline makes it incredibly easy to become fully invested in this book. Heavily character driven, Gray uses the narrative to drive this opposite attraction romance with a heavy inclusion of antagonism, miscommunication, and sexual tension to draw out the protagonists and maneuver them in the right direction.
“I hate you so much,” Rebecca moaned, noticing his obnoxiously cheerful expression.
“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Rebecca.”
She stared at the ceiling. “It’s a partnership.”
“Is it? Already?” Derek wiggled his eyebrows.
Readers will find Rebecca reluctantly charming in her eccentric-ness and shyness. Her internal monologues and off the cuff information dumps leave you laughing as she dissects everything from her encounters with other people to the contents of her lunch. She’s a planner and a perfectionist which leads to some interesting situations as she learns that while she can plan her life down to second, she can’t plan everyone else’s.
“So you came here to check up on me? Thanks for the vote of faith, Prude.”
“Original nickname,” Rebecca said.
“If the shoe fits…”
Derek is the complete opposite of Rebecca. Living in a fraternity, he is outgoing, popular, good looking, and seemingly nonchalant about school and life in general. He’s one of those men who you think has the world in the palm of their hand; everything seems to come easy to him. His carefree attitude and incessant teasing of Rebecca comes off mocking at first, until you begin to see Rebecca slowly gaining her self-esteem and confidence with each new encounter. As this is told from Rebecca’s point of view, everything we see and feel is 100% prejudiced by her. I personally would have enjoyed getting a dual narrative to better characterize Derek. It’s not until the end do we get to meet the real Derek that’s been hiding beneath his carefree persona.
“I…” He shook his head. “I was a fucking asshole. I know it doesn’t make things better, but if I could go back and … if I could do it over, I wouldn’t have…” He seemed at a loss for words.
I enjoyed the brief foray back into college and seeing all the nuances of this awkward time where you hover between childhood and adulthood. So many changes and challenges are tossed at you and the coping mechanisms range from drinking and partying to hiding out in the library and wondering if you can just live there all four years. Gray touches on everything just enough to tease your memories out without forcing you to relive every single moment.
As Rebecca struggles to figure out her relationship with Derek and in retrospect, herself, an engaging cast of secondary characters chime in, adding plenty of laughter and energy with their offers of advice, shoulders to cry on, and promises of smackdowns. Shayler and Ansley are Rebecca’s best friends and have her back no matter what. I loved the dynamics of their relationship and unconditional love. Damian, the president of Derek’s fraternity, offers some insight into Derek and helps to show Rebecca that everyone has a story to tell. You just have to look for it.
The ending comes at you fast and seemed to wrap up everything a little too neatly though watching Rebecca grow to not only accept herself as she is but also gain her independence and voice made this story worth any issues I had.
Prude is a light-hearted new adult romance that addresses some weighty subjects without dragging the book down into an emotional quagmire. Gray definitely has a pleasant voice that speaks for the shy nerd in all of us and I am looking forward to seeing what she has instore for us in book two.