First of all, I want to address something. When I first read the synopsis for Foreplay, I was not put off by the familiar theme of virgin heroine recruiting hot experienced guy to help her gain experience in the bedroom, then falls in love and a triangle forms. I trust Sophie Jordan to deliver, even if this is her first New Adult novel. So I had an open mind when jumping into it. A lot of books with similar plots may be overused, but the delivery and execution plays out differently from each other. That's how Foreplay is also. The ending may be predictable, but it's fun to see it all pan out. I can assure you that it is tasteful. There are different aspects between the covers that makes you want to finish it. Also, there's no deep dark secret that can threaten their relationship which is also refreshing. Yes, there are troubling pasts-- then again who hasn't had one?
Leading lady, Pepper, has been in love with her best friend's brother Hunter ever since he saved her from social bullies in high school. But he's always viewed her as his little sister's best friend. Another problem? He has been in a serious relationship for two years. Fast forward to the present (four years later), and Pepper is determined to seduce Hunter into seeing her as a young woman of his desires. So when Pepper learns that Hunter is on the market again, she jumps at what may be her only chance with him. Pepper's roommates/friends Georgia and Emerson are more than eager to help her out by recruiting someone who is notoriously known in the bedroom to help her gain the experience she needs. They know the perfect candidate for the job. So they bring her to a bar called Mulvaney's to get things rolling. Little does Pepper know that the bartender that her friends had in mind is none other than the stranger that helped her car trouble the previous night. In comes Reece.
Foreplay with a sexy bartender? Yes, please. Pepper, being the reserved awkward girl, doesn't make her move right off the bat. Yes, she makes the effort to talk to him, but is hesitant to ask if he can teach her a few pointers. It's not as easy as bringing up the weather into conversation. Don't get me wrong, she's not reserved all the time. She's got a good head on her shoulders attached to a backbone. It's a slow build to get to what Pepper is trying to accomplish. They have a few encounters, engage in conversation. When their responsibilities aren't in their way, they spend some time together. Reece starts teaching her foreplay after a little mix up with his brother and when Pepper reveals her intentions. Their dynamic kicks off with a rocky start and continues for some time. Just when you think they've made amends, they start bickering again. It's actually very comical. At times though, it gets a little too far and I felt the sting that they felt. What starts as platonic, starts digging a deeper hole. Pepper tries to deny it because she has her sights set on Hunter.
All the while, Hunter attends the same college as Pepper, so they start bumping into each other more often. They converse over coffee and he shows some interest in Pepper. Seems to me that she doesn't need foreplay lessons afterall, but am so glad that she goes through with it because I love her with Reece. Hunter invites her to go home with him over Thanksgiving break to spend time with him and his sister, her best friend. Try as she might, she can't help but compare the affect he has on her nor the fact that Hunter pales in comparison to a specific someone. Still, she decides to give it a chance.
She craves family and stability with Hunter, topped with a white picket fence. Something she has never known. Her father died when she was young and her mother went off the deep end, drowning in loser guys and substances. Pepper has seen how tight-knit Hunter's family is, and she knows that Hunter can provide that for her-- live that life with her. She does not see Reece as the type to give that to her. That is until she gets to know him better. She finds out that he had to take care of his brother at a young age after their mother died and father wasn't much of a father anymore. Then she gets a taste of the family she craves when babysitting a couple of little girls that becomes so near and dear to her. Reece was fixing the sink one night and decided to take the invitation to eat dinner with Pepper and the girls. The scene was very domesticated and Pepper realized that too. That scene kind of put a smile on my face.
At times I did feel that Reece was being used because he wasn't too happy about the purpose of her pursual or the mix up with his brother, but quickly pushed that away because Pepper is not at all the type who maliciously uses people. Plus, they're both genuinely into each other. However, I felt for Reece stepping up to help Pepper reel Hunter in, even though he is hurting inside to do that. That has got to hurt, but he did it for her happiness and dreams. Even if it does push her into another mans arms, as long as she's happy, then that's all he wants for her.
Reece is a generous lover as he is a knight in shining armor. We get to see that first hand. He fought off a guy who got grabby with Pepper in the dark hallway of the bar. He walked Pepper to her car, so nothing happens to her in the dark night. And saves her from a burning house fire. Their first lesson in foreplay, he takes Pepper up to his place and pleasures her without going too far or expecting reciprocation. That's not the only thing. Not only does he promise that he doesn't do virgins or take things too far from her comfort zone, but he invites her to spend the night with him and cuddle. Even after Pepper's mistakes and tendency to push him away, he is always there with open arms. Reece may be the sexy tattooed bartender, but he's not anything like the arrogant jerk off's we come to know with the same persona.
I am so thankful that the secondary characters are so involved in the story because they are so essential in Pepper and Reece's lives. Georgia and Emerson are hilarious as ever. I love their banter, jokes, crass behavior and straight-laced attitudes. They call Pepper out on her bullshit. It's all very amusing, and reminds me that there are great people out there who value friendship. Georgia is a little mystery because she isn't in a whole lot of the book, and Emerson is an enigmatic character. I'm glad she's getting her own book-- I'd like to see what her story is. Suzanne, although only in a couple scenes, is a funny one too. Reece's brother, Logan, is quite the character for his man-whore reputation. He's got depth in him. He cares for Reece and their dad. And he gives great insight to Pepper about Reece. I like that he can be thought-provoking, and shies from archetypal man-whore stigma. But finding him squirming in a predicament is all too amusing to witness. He and her girlfriends all call her out on her hidden feelings for Reece, and advises to see what is right in front of her.
Pepper finally sees sense after an incident, and realizes who she really wants. It took her lots of steamy make out sessions, a dinner with the girls, nursing a sickness, a lunch date, and a house fire to see that Reece is the one for her. Hunter really is a gentleman and that makes him a well-deserving character. I only wished that Hunter will find his HEA. So when I asked Sophie Jordan if Hunter will get his HEA, I got my wish! She told me via twitter that she is working on a short story about him that will be in the 50 First Anthology.
Even though the main plot point of this story is about learning foreplay, there is no sexual overkill. In NA, that is refreshing. I appreciate that Sophie Jordan isn't too graphic or insert a large, unnecessary amount of sex scenes. Once or twice is satisfying enough. I enjoy the emotionally-driven aspect behind it. I wish we got to see more of Pepper and Reece as a couple, but it was fun to see how they got there. We do get a short and sweet epilogue, so that was a treat. Just goes to show that love goes far beyond foreplay and sex.