ARC Review: Ugly Ducklings Finish First

Ugly Ducklings Finish First

Author: Stacy Gail
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: August 5, 2013

Metal Mouth. Queen Geek. Dr. Payton Pruitt heard it all growing up. But she’s over it, and attending her ten-year high school reunion is the perfect way to prove it to herself. Even if there’s only one person she’s interested in seeing in Bitterthorn, Texas: Wiley Sharpe.

Now a respected lawyer, Wiley didn’t live down to the label Most Likely to Be Slapped with a Paternity Suit. But recent acts of vandalism suggest someone still sees him as a heartbreaker, and the reunion seems a likely place to find the culprit. Instead, Wiley comes face-to-face with his old pal Payton—and is wowed not only by her transformation into a ravishing swan, but by the connection they still share.

Payton is pleased the playboy she used to tutor has grown into an honorable man, but she’s too smart to fall for a guy with roots in a place she couldn’t wait to leave. But while Payton is an academic genius, Wiley is the one with the PhD in pleasure, and he intends to use it to convince her to stay…

My Thoughts:

As with most Carina books, this is a quick, easy read. As I gave it a 5-star rating when I rated it on Goodreads, clearly I didn’t have any major issues that took away from my appreciation of it. This featured a couple of classic tropes (nerd-girl turned sexy and reformed rake) and didn’t particularly do anything original with them. But the way Ms. Gail presented them, I got plenty of giggles.

I liked seeing this couple get together. Payton was a sweetheart and yet still haunted by her high school days. She has mother issues which I enjoyed seeing her actually attempt to work through, making a pretty darned good start by the end of the book. Wiley was (for me) hilarious, in how everyone who knew his high school reputation (which was pretty much everyone in Bitterthorn), thought he was waaaay too familiar with the ladies. Yet he rather liked Payton back when she tutored him in high school and of course, she had the hots for him, though she had to hide it. After all, she was the nerd tutor and he was the uber-popular football star.

When they first meet at their 10-year reunion, Wiley doesn’t recognize her, but she recognizes him. She has a bit of fun with that, but ultimately, the truth comes out quickly. They work through some of their issues.

The one disappointing factor that stuck with me, even a week or so after reading this book, came toward the end when Wiley was trying to protect Payton. I felt he was a bit of an ass, and could have handled it a lot better/smarter than he did.

There was a side-plot which involved Wiley and someone who was clearly out to get him (spay-painting his house, etc.). That was another not-so-great-part of the book, which involved a couple of eye rolls on my part, but in the end didn’t bother me enough to effect my rating/enjoyment of this book.

Ultimately, this was a great book and definitely worth reading. 5-star rating.

Thank you for letting me read this, Carina/Ms. Gail!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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