Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for giving me the opportunity to read The Kissing Game by Marie Harte early! This was my first Marie Harte book and ahhh I didn’t realize how intense of a world/set of characters there were in this book/all of the books that lead up to this book, so a warning/heads up to anyone like me who is picking this up as their first Marie Harte book- you 100% can do that, but you’re going to get so much more out of the book if you either read the other books or at least read up on the other books so you know who the other players are because there are so many people and couples and things can definitely get a little confusing.
The Kissing Game 3/5 Stars
Summary from Goodreads: Rena Jackson is ready. She’s worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she’s almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena’s also a diehard romantic, and she’s had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He’s got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he’s got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Rena’s about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.
At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He’s been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he’s way out of his depth and she’s slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play…
So let’s start with what I did like about this book- the general plot and premise were pretty cute- guy likes girl but he’s biding his time so he doesn’t scare her off, but he bides too long, so he needs to kick things up a notch- and that’s pretty much what the summary told us. That whole section was maybe the first ⅛ of the book or so? It barely scratches the surface of what actually happens in the book, so that’s what starts my annoyances.
First let’s get to the characters- Rena is fine. I didn’t think she was anything special, like she was an ok main-ish character and I could in general relate to her, but I also didn’t feel too tied to her in any way. Axel, our other main-ish character was the one I had a bigger problem with. He was supposed to be German, but like what kind of stereotypes was the author looking at/thinking about when she wrote him as a character? I know a lot of people from Germany and not one of them remind me of Axel at all. If I suspend my belief on reality completely, then I don’t mind the characterization as much, but it’s so hard when the characterizations were supposed to be based in an actual culture of people.
Overall, I thought that this was an interesting and cute romance novel. Was it my favorite book? No. Did it make me want to read more books by the author? Definitely! (And I’ve already read one!) The Kissing Game comes out on February 4th, so make sure to check it out when it’s released!