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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 

Was it Really the Best?

The Last Best Kiss - Claire LaZebnik

Jane Austen did not write harlequin romances.


I know that might be a startling fact to some of you. You have probably seen half a dozen YA, NA, and adult Austen retellings where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (all played by the endearing Colin Firth-because let’s face it half of the authors were fantasizing over him when writing said retelling) have torrid sex at Pemberley.



Oh yeah. Pride and Prejudice erotica is so a thing.


That didn’t exactly happen in the original. In fact, I wrote a whole paper in college about how Pride and Prejudice really wasn’t a romance and more of a comedy of manners.


Try telling that though to the various retelling authors.   Especially Claire Lazebnik.  Grant it, there’s no hot sex at Pemberley in her novels, but the essential Austen spirit is squashed out one is left with a bland romance that has been retold over and over again.


Lazebnik has managed to make a pretty successful series based on this format.  Well, I don’t know if you’d consider her books a series since they involve different characters.  But they’re all Jane Austen retellings and they all take place in SoCal.

And they all have bland characters.



Bland, bland, bland characters.


And I mean bland.  And unrealistic.  Especially in this installment.  If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought this was her first book.


But before I rip this book a new one, I need to at least give you guys some idea what it’s about.  It’s basically a retelling of Austen’s novel, Persuasion.  Which if you’re not familiar with it, is basically about a poor little rich girl who snubbed her one true love long ago and now tries to get over the fact that he’s rich and everyone wants him and he doesn’t want to give her the time of day.


In other words, it’s like your typical Harlequin.  But Austen writes the novel in such a way that there’s layers upon layers of subtext and that you actually like the characters.

Lazebnik’s retelling lacks this.  The plot is therefore as groan worthy and the characters, as previously mentioned are bland beyond belief.  Through in some drama that makes it perfect to insert a PSA then you have a book that you throw against the wall at one o’clock in the morning.


To be fair though, The Last Best Kiss  (dear lord, that title) isn’t the worst thing I’ve read this year.  But considering I’ve read some pretty big stinkers-just in this last week-that’s not saying much.  At its best, this book is predictable.  It follows the Austen story at its bare bones and nothing that unexpected happens.


Okay,here is some diversity in this book that I wasn’t expecting, but considering these characters were mostly used as token characters or used to illustrate some lame plot point it really didn’t work.


The fact that most of the cast had the personality of  toast didn’t help either.  Oh, wait there were personality traits.  Traits that made them seem unrealistic.  Like a father that was so vain all he talked about was how good his hair looked, the amount of calories in a bagel, and how vegetarians are evil people.  The lesbian older sister whose romance parallels with our MC.   And the blonde softball teacher which was the MC’s other older sister’s friend that sole purpose was to insult the MC’s art-which of course was super good-and sleep with said father.  Then there was the eccentric b.f.f. who is wild and carefree who of course is dating the love interest but does something stupid where it’s like a bad PSA where our MC has to save her ass.


Yeah.  That’s it.


Besides the fact, vegetarians are evil and don’t know what their doing giving up meat.

I don’t know why that kept being mentioned.  As someone who doesn’t like meat and only eats it when required because I have iron issues, I really didn’t see the point that meat is so much better than bread, vegetables, fruit, cheese, and chocolate cake.  And I’m from Texas where barbecue is pretty much a staple part of our diet.

What else did I gain from this book.  Oh, the occasional drug use and drinking is okay when our Ivy League bound  MC does it but when her carefree friend does it a earth shattering event happens.


I seriously thought I was watching an episode of Full House that’s how eye roll worthy the pool incident was.



With a Persuasion retelling I expect that I’ll be highly anticipating a reunion between the two characters.  But Finn and Anna, I could care less.  He deserved better than her.  And Anna, well, when she wasn’t bland she was a judgmental bitch that seemed to think she wasn’t judgmental.  Very much like Michelle Tanner.