Friday, July 4, 2014

I See London (ISL #1) by Chanel Cleeton

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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.

*This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.*

Okay. I desperately needed a romance and nothing was catching my eye until I saw this. I don’t know if it was the cover or the fun title that had me repeating that silly rhyme in my head.  Whatever it was, I got exactly what I was looking for.

Maggie hails from a small town in the middle of nowhere and has a rocky start to her new life in London. Not only is it a bit of a culture shock but she seems to take an instant dislike to a couple of people. One of them is the hottie rich kid Samir, who spots her as she exits her taxi upon arrival at the school. The other would happen to be her roommate, Fleur. To make it worse, both Fleur and Samir are tight. How did Maggie win this lottery? While it's not a good way to start off the school year she’s hardly a wallflower. She still makes some friends and despite the initial iciness, her roommate does show some promise.

As she settles into her new routine, the only thing that rattles her is her consistent and awkward encounter with Samir. There’s something about him that both intrigues her – his good looks, his confidence – and also repulses her – his giant-sized ego, their vastly different backgrounds.  Naturally, you know these two are drawn to each other and play out this cat-and-mouse game throughout most of the book. It's just a question of which one of them finally gives in first.

I enjoyed many things about I See London like when Maggie goes sightseeing and immerses herself in London life. Or when she spends genuine time with her new friends. I appreciate that she faces some struggle in learning to get on with Fleur because let's be honest, we all have been in that situation but in this case, Maggie has the guts to face it head on. The fact that she has to keep up her GPA in order to retain her scholarship and remain at the school makes her relatable.  It's also a reminder of how her reality is different from that of her new friends. These are all things most of us would come across at college.

A few things bothered me slightly, one of them being Samir. At times he can come off as predatory. Not creepy predatory if that makes any sense. It's just that because he keeps his emotions so closely guarded, it's hard to determine what his true intentions are. It just feels like he has the upper hand and is dictating every scenario. That said, his interactions with Maggie are still hot even if they're confusing. Don't get me wrong. I liked him when he was all flirty and cocky - I mean really, isn't that what I usually like? But as their friendship develops further, my feelings aren't quite as mixed about Samir. And then I worry about Maggie herself. It seems for a while as if she becomes more concerned with her dating life than with school. And then when she meets Hugh, a much older guy and isn't exactly truthful about herself, I found myself wagging an imaginary finger at her. I mean, what is she doing especially if she has conflicted feelings about Samir? There's no way that can end well. I worried that she would get lost in this world of partying and that her inexperience with men could possibly derail her ambitions.

Despite my personal reservations, I really did enjoy I See London. Maggie does a lot of growing up during this time and by the end of the school year her concept of what  “home” means, changes. Ultimately, this is a romance and it is hot! The fact that the sexual tension is drawn out thanks to a few minor twists that make it unclear as to exactly what's going to happen next, the delayed gratification is all the sweeter!

~ Bel 

The review for the sequel London Falling will be posted on Tuesday, July 8.

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