Nothing says “romance” quite like two people pretending to be engaged to each other (My thoughts on Big Rock by Lauren Blakely)
At the risk of starting this review on a bit of a tangent, I have to say that my overall experience with reading the book Big Rock by Lauren Blakely was radically different from my experience with reading Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s Career of Evil. What made my experience with reading Big Rock so different from my experience with reading Career of Evil is the fact that as I talked about in my review for Career of Evil, I started out absolutely loving the book and thinking that it was perhaps the best book yet in the Cormoran Strike series, only to eventually become very frustrated with the book at times the more I read it, and eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s my least favorite book in the series. When it comes to Big Rock on the other hand, I instantly fell in love with the book as soon as I started reading it, and I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I actually loved Big Rock so much that I ended up listening to the entire audiobook version of the book in less than a day. I just couldn’t bring myself to stop listening to it until I finished the book.
That being said, as much as I loved Big Rock, it’s definitely far from perfect, if you ask me. As far as I’m concerned, this book’s single greatest flaw is that it definitely felt rather cliché and lacking in originality in a lot of ways. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking that Lauren Blakely isn’t really offering anybody anything truly new with this book. As I was reading Big Rock, I kept thinking that this book is very similar to a lot romantic comedies that I’ve watched over the years, namely Just Friends and The Proposal, as well as numerous romance novels that I’ve read over the years, namely Emma Chase’s Tangled series and the first book in her Legal Briefs series, Overruled.
For the record, I love both of those movies, and I’m a huge fan of Emma Chase’s books, so it’s not like this book was reminding me of movies and books that I don’t like. This book actually reminded me of a lot of different things that I really love, which definitely made Big Rock a real feel good book for me personally. I simply feel like I do need to acknowledge that this book is rather cliché in some ways. That being said, I imagine that it’s probably very challenging for writers to write books that are a part the romance genre, since the romance genre as a whole is definitely a genre that’s full of clichés that numerous writers use for their books. It’s also a genre that in my opinion is rather lacking in originality when it comes to the premise of the majority of the romance novels that are currently out there, which is why I can’t entirely fault Lauren Blakely for Big Rock being rather cliché in some ways.
Speaking of Emma Chase’s books, one of the main things that convinced me to buy the audiobook version of Big Rock and read it is the fact that it’s narrated by Sebastian York, who narrated the audiobook versions of Tangled, the epilogue of Twisted, Tied, and the short stories “Holy Frigging Matrimony” and “It’s a Wonderful Tangled Christmas Carol”. He also narrated the second book in Emma Chase’s Legal Briefs series, Sustained, which is the next book I’ll be reviewing.
I absolutely love Sebastian York’s narration for Emma Chase’s books, so I just had to buy the audiobook version of Big Rock as soon as I saw that he was the narrator for the book. Much like I thought he did a fantastic job of reading Emma Chase’s books, I thought he did an awesome job of reading Big Rock. I highly recommend buying the audiobook version of this book.
As for why I think this book is rather cliché, the overall premise of Big Rock is that Spencer, who’s well known for being a major ladies man, asks his longtime friend and business partner, Charlotte, to pretend to be his fiancée in order to help his dad complete the sale of their family’s jewelry business to a man who’s very old-fashioned and family oriented. Throughout the book, Spencer and Charlotte repeatedly insist that being a couple is all an act that will only last a week until Spencer’s dad can complete the sale of their family’s jewelry business. However, they naturally end up developing genuine feelings for each other throughout the book. The idea of two people pretending to be a couple for one reason or another, only to truly fall in love with each other is definitely a concept for the plot of a lot of romance novels and romantic comedies that I’ve either read or watched over the years. I feel like I should mention that there’s also somewhat of a subplot that runs throughout the book, which involves an ex-boyfriend of Charlotte’s trying to win her back after he breaks up with the woman he cheated on Charlotte with. However, there isn’t really much to say about it.
While the fact that Overruled felt somewhat cliché and didn’t feel as fresh as Emma Chase’s other books do definitely bothered me, the fact that Big Rock definitely has a major “been there, done that” vibe to it didn’t bother me at all. Honestly, I’m really surprised that Big Rock’s clichéd nature didn’t bother me at all. I think it’s because I thought Big Rock was such a fun book to read. If I had to pick just one word to describe what I thought of this book, it would definitely be, “fun”. Lauren Blakely definitely isn’t trying to make any truly profound statements about life or the world in this book, and I’m completely okay with that. As far as I’m concerned, Big Rock is simply really fun, light reading.
While Big Rock doesn’t get a lot of points for originality and avoiding clichés, Blakely definitely did a fantastic job of injecting a lot of heart and humor into the story. There were quite a few moments in the book that I thought were genuinely funny, especially when it comes to Spencer’s internal narrative throughout the book. I also thought it was pretty amusing that this book has not one, but two epilogues, with the second epilogue being labeled, “Another Epilogue”. I suppose Blakely could have written the ending of the book in a slightly different way, so Big Rock only had one epilogue. However, the fact that Big Rock has two epilogues honestly doesn’t bother me, especially given the humorous way Blakely labeled the second epilogue.
While I don’t read romance novels for the sex scenes, I will say that I thought the sex scenes in Big Rock were all very well written and pretty steamy. Much like I think the sex scenes in Emma Chase’s books are even steamier than the sex scenes in the Fifty Shades books, I thought the sex scenes in this book were also a lot steamier than the ones in the Fifty Shades books, and this book isn’t even considered erotica. As far as I’m concerned, the sex scenes in the Fifty Shades books are all incredibly tame. I seriously don’t understand how those books could be considered erotica.
I’m sorry if my constantly comparing this book to Emma Chase’s books bothers anybody, but the fact that Sebastian York was the narrator for the audiobook version of Big Rock definitely made it hard for me to not think about Chase’s books as I was reading Big Rock, since York was also the narrator for the audiobook versions of several of Chase’s books. Honestly, one of the main reasons I love this book so much is because it’s a romance novel written from the guy’s point of view. The fact that Emma Chase’s books are also pretty much all written at least partially from the guy’s point of view is one of the reasons why she’s become one of my favorite writers in the romance genre.
Being a guy, I know that I’m probably not the target audience for romance novels, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying them. However, Lauren Blakely and Emma Chase writing romance novels from the guy’s point of view is definitely something that really helps me to relate to their books on a personal level a lot more than I’m able to relate to most of the other romance novels that are currently out there. Plus, I do think that Lauren Blakely and Emma Chase writing romance novels from the guy’s point of view is one way they’re putting a fresh and interesting twist on the romance genre; which as I said earlier, is a genre where it’s probably really hard to write books that feel truly original and completely free of clichés.
Getting back to the subject of Big Rock itself, both Spencer and Charlotte are very likable characters, and Blakely did a great job of showing that they had a lot of chemistry with each other. Spencer is definitely a very cocky guy, but Blakely did an excellent job of writing Spencer in such a way that Spencer’s cockiness wasn’t taken to a point where he came across as a major asshole that people probably wouldn’t like.
All things considered, while Big Rock definitely isn’t perfect, I still enjoyed it immensely. As far as I’m concerned, Big Rock’s biggest flaw really is that it felt rather cliché. However, I’m willing to forgive this book for being so cliché, simply because it was such a fun book to read, and both Spencer and Charlotte were really great characters. There honestly isn’t anything about this book that I disliked about it so much that I’m unwilling put my issues with the book aside. I feel like I should mention that Big Rock is the first book by Lauren Blakely that I’ve ever read, and Blakely definitely made a fantastic first impression with this book. I’ll definitely be checking out her other books in the future.
That being said, my final score for Big Rock is 10 out of 10.
Posted on February 11, 2016, in Book Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged Big Rock, book review, Cormoran Strike, Cormoran Strike series, E.L. James, Emma Chase, Fifty Shades, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Trilogy, J.K. Rowling, Lauren Blakely, Robert Galbraith, Tangled. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.