Hooking Up by Helena Hunting

Blurb:
35048632Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I think I wanted to like this one more than I actually did, mostly because I know people who loved it.  But in the end I try to look at how sucked in I am by a book, and if I don’t find myself clamoring for any spare minutes to read, then it’s not likely a “loved it” book.  I will note that I have not read Shacking Up yet, and while this book is not listed as being part of a series, it does appear to be an unofficial series (in that our hero and heroine were likely introduced in Shacking Up, and the hero and heroine of Shacking Up appear quite a lot in this book).  So do with that information as you will.

Can I just say that I find it really silly to request that the hero’s name not be mentioned in the review?  I mean, what’s the likelihood that’s actually going to work?  If it’s not a series, then what would it matter if people knew his name?  Aha!  Caught you.  😛  I shall call him Hottie Hook-up, but honestly, others have already mentioned his name, so it seems a pointless exercise.

This book started off really good actually.  I LOVED the prologue, loved the way Hottie Hook-up and Amalie first meet, and thus am heartbroken when stupid Armstrong gets his claws in there.  And for the first half of the book, I actually was pulled in by the chemistry between Amalie and Hottie and the humour, even if I had other qualms.  But as the book went on, my qualms remained (and got worse) and I became concerned with the lack of development of an emotional relationship between Amie and Hottie.  Honestly, I became frustrated with their relationship in general.  I guess I just didn’t like how it all played out in the end, and I wanted things that weren’t happening.  And then the ending left me ridiculously confused.  Like, the last chapter before the epilogue, I thought they were sort of breaking up…ish.  And then I turn the page and it’s the epilogue.  And then I get a glossed over recap of what’s been happening, and how things developed and were “resolved”, and basically I was soooooo unsatisfied.  And that’s when my rating changed from rounding up to rounding down.  Perhaps it’s even just a solid 3 star at this point, but I still enjoyed Hottie, so he earns the half a star.

So what were my qualms?  Uh, am I the only one that basically felt that Armstrong was really mentally/emotionally abusive?  Telling her what to wear, how she should appear in public, basically planning her whole life around him.  I mean, there’s bad guys and then there’s Armstrong.  He was too evil.  Why?  Because he should be getting psychiatric help, and no one seems to want to do that.  You can have him be a dick and have that relationship dissolve without making him out to be what is essentially a sociopath.  And because I felt that he was abusive, while I applaud Amie for sticking to her guns and getting out of the relationship (showing strength at each turn that he screwed with her), she was still IN an abusive relationship for what sounds like at least a year, and so she probably could have used some counselling.  Or someone who understood that.  I don’t know.  I was really disturbed, and I just felt like the matter wasn’t treated with the gravity it deserved.  Either it needed to be toned down, or it needed to be addressed.  At least in my opinion.

And in a similar vein, I never really felt I saw Amie’s growth.  I’m not sure she did grow.  We’re told she did, but I didn’t see it or feel it.  I also really don’t know all that much about her.  I mean, she’s sassy, she has a healthy sexual appetite and a sense of adventure (which again, just goes to show how abusive Armstrong was), and apparently she has some aptitude for makeup.  But what else was there?  Did I miss it?  She wasn’t really my favourite.  She does a lot of running, a bit of using of Hottie, and by the end she’s still kind of uncertain and insecure.

Hottie was a more likeable character for me.  I was still fairly unimpressed with his history with Armstrong, and his inability to do something about Armstrong (well, for his whole family’s inability to just draw a line in the sand with that sociopath…like, really, they’re still going to invite him to functions?  No).  Basically Armstrong brought out the worst in Hottie.  And quite frankly, I wasn’t always impressed with the way his own desire for Amie would result in him pushing her past her comfort zone with basically no regard for her mental well-being.  At least he actually showed growth in those things though.  BUT, when you remove those two aspects, Hottie was actually super sweet, dirty, sarcastic, thoughtful, hardworking, and we actually got to see his personality a bit more.  He saved a lot of this book.

As for their relationship, well it was very sex-focused.  We were told they had lots of moments where they just talked and basically dated, but we, the readers, didn’t actually get to see any of that happening.  And so I don’t quite understand what they love about each other.  They definitely love the sex.  But isn’t that just lust then?

So yeah.  Bummer.  I was really hoping to love this one.  I’ll still give Shacking Up a try, as it seems that a few other reviewers who didn’t see the emotions in this one enjoyed that one more.  This book excels at the sex scenes, and the dirty humour (though I tend to cringe with certain terms, like taco), so I can definitely recommend it on those aspects.  But if you NEED a bit more emotional connection, personally it just didn’t work for me.

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