* * * 1/2
Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine's debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith.
Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down.
Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.
Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.
Isn't this cover just so freaking cute? There’s nothing more gratifying that reading a sweet story that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s how I felt after I read Constantine’s previous release, The Promise of Amazing, so reading The Secrets of Attraction was a no-brainer.
This follow-up does feature characters from the previous book but the spotlight this time shines on Maddie. She’s just as nice as Wren but she comes with a hint of an edge to her. Trouble starts when her boyfriend says "I love you" to her. Most teenage girls would be ecstatic that their hot, popular athlete boyfriend would declare those magical three words. Not Maddie. She doesn’t feel the same at all. Not that he’s a bad guy just that she knows that she’s not in love. This makes things awkward between them especially when she strikes up a friendship with Jesse who works at the coffee shop near the yoga studio she goes to. Neither of them have any connection to each other until Grayson, Wren's boyfriend, auditions for Jesse’s band and now both groups of friends are intermingling.
Jesse's had his heart broken by his ex-girlfriend. She hooked up with his ex-best friend who was also the drummer in his band. Both betrayals hurt him badly enough that music kind of lost its luster. Enter Maddie whom he's been noticing for a while. Their friendship sparks something in him. She's delightful to be around and being in her company renews Jesse's interest in his music. He also wants to go for it with her but Maddie draws the line at just being friends. So Jesse has to come up with inventive ways to be with her.
I like that Maddie is certain about some things yet hesitant about others. For one, I like that she knew that she wasn’t in love with her boyfriend and doesn't want to mislead him once she musters up the courage to be truthful with him. I like her devotion to her friends. I like her closeness with her mom which does get tested at some point in the book. I like that her character experiences the typical anxieties about graduating high school and moving on to college. She has her studies then she has her passion which is art. There’s the practical side of her then there’s the side of her that wants to abandon the heavy responsibilities and just take that risk in pursuing art.
Jesse is great too. He’s got a few kinks to work out like getting his ex out of his system. He’s really into Maddie but she's not ready to admit that attraction. His thoughtful gestures toward her are impressive and will woo the reader as well. While he’s not declaring undying, eternal love here, it’s interesting how he’s the one pushing for them to be an item. Maddie just needs to realize that what she’s experiencing with him is indeed falling in love for the first time.
All in all, The Secrets of Attraction is just adorable and I know that I can count on Constantine to deliver that just-right amount of sweet and angst without too much melodrama.