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instalove

instalove

Cutters vs. Jocks - Elizabeth Marx Grade: A- Upgraded from the original B+ because I kept thinking about it for days.However.... This is the first part of a doubleheader review, and Game 2 didn't work out so well.Game 1: The prequel novellaWhat I had done, I had chosen to do. But expecting more than what it was would be fruitless, so I snaked off into the cold morning light, leaving him to his dreams that didn’t include me.The set-up:Aidan is, big surprise, the Jock – a college baseball star being scouted for the majors. He’s also a self-centered, rich-kid frat boy with all the usual bimbos flinging themselves into his bed.Libby is the “Cutter” – a local girl who makes it across the big campus divide. But Libby insists on keeping her academic and personal lives strictly separate, for reasons she refuses to share with anyone.(NOTE: According to the author, “cutter” is the equivalent of “townie” in Bloomington, Indiana, where our heroine and hero attend Indiana University. “Cutter” derives from the local stone-cutting industry, NOT the emo kind.)When Aidan and Libby meet up at a local bar over a game of pool, he assumes she’s free for the taking...I would find a way to make her interested. I mean, I was a stud on campus. And yeah, she’s smoking hot, but she’s a cutter, a townie. They usually roll around at my feet like practice balls....but she shuts him down with a few choice multi-syllable words and some non-verbal communication…I took hold of her hand and stoked her palm; it drove almost every girl I’d ever touched crazy. “You have the prettiest hands. You talk with them.” I’d learned that girls loved modest compliments and observations.But not this snooty cutter. She flipped me off and strode away....but only to mask her terror at the brain-melting attraction between them:Now that I’d met Aidan, I had a glimmer of understanding of what Jeanne felt for my father. Love is a kind of madness — and crazy runs in my family.The hits:The level of story-telling and world-building and emotional intensity in these 65 pages is unbelievable. The short chapters of alternating POV work perfectly as a narrative structure, and the chapter titles and epigraphs are spot-on.The characterization is driven by equal parts dialogue (smartass banter, my *favorite*) and internal monologuing in which the characters actually reveal important things instead of rehashing what just happened. I know, right???Libby and Aidan are anything but cardboard college clichés – “prickly” doesn’t even begin to describe Libby’s hands-off vibe, and we learn quickly that Aidan’s super-stud reputation is a pretty brittle façade.Also, the chemistry. Did I mention THE CHEMISTRY? Holy. Shit. (*fans self*)“What exactly are you trying to win?”Your heart. I swear to God, I thought it, wondering where that was coming from. I’d never have the guts to say it. So I did what most guys would do. “Your body for a night.”Her crestfallen expression lasted all of three seconds, before she came back with more confidence than I would have expected. “I assure you, just one night would not be enough.”She stared directly at me, defying me to respond....She had thrown down the gauntlet. It lay at my feet. If I had been wise, I would have left it there, but she had issued the challenge. I had no other choice than to pick it up and aim it right for her heartI threw it at her with all my might, but I was the one bleeding, a drop at a time and ever since, because she had pierced me with those simple words. “Just one night.”That was just the foreplay, for crying out loud.The misses:A few minor editing glitches were a little distracting, but the story and characters sucked me in so much I chose to ignore the errors.Yes, I actually just said “I IGNORED THE EDITING ERRORS.” Yes, I’m a hypocrite. Get over it.But, ultimately, that story-telling trance also set my expectations for the full novel much too high. Ugh.Game 2: Binding Arbitration (the full novel)