Rules of Attraction is the follow-up to Perfect Chemistry. Alex and Brittany are going to college in Colorado, and Alex's younger brother Carlos moves there to live with Alex for his senior year of high school. Their mother sent Carlos there so he won't end up in jail. After an incident at school, however, it looks like Carlos might still be headed in that direction. Since Carlos can't really live in the student housing with Alex, the judge says he can't stay there. He ends up staying with the extremely well-adjusted family of Carlos's "peer guide" from school, Kiara. Her dad is also friends with Alex because he was Alex's professor. Kiara isn't traditionally hot and she stutters, but after a slightly rocky start, she and Carlos develop an attraction to each other.
I feel pretty much the same way about Rules of Attraction as I did about Perfect Chemistry. I mean, as I re-read my post about Perfect Chemistry, I was thinking, "Well, that pretty much exactly sums up how I felt about this book."
* Seems like a romance I would normally like: check.
* Would normally like the happy ending but this is too over-the-top (esp. the epilogue): check.
* Unrealistic/lacking authentic voice for the characters: check. (for Carlos anyway)
* Gang member who is too "good": check. (Think about this when you read the reason Carlos really got fired from the sugar mill.) And I can add into this one that Kiara's family seems extraordinarily well-adjusted and even pretty okay with the two of them living together under the same roof and obviously having a physical relationship. Not totally believable for me. Also not totally believable: the father's entire diverse background and the way it works into the resolution of things with Devlin.
Once I let go of all these things, I did enjoy the story, though. It was a lot steamier than I remember Perfect Chemistry being. I wouldn't have it in a middle school library, for instance. I don't want to spoil anything for you, so if you're really concerned about that, you may want to stop reading here. But if you're still reading, then know that when Carlos and Kiara finally have sex, it's pretty explicit. It doesn't describe the actual act, but all the way up to it where they are getting naked, how and where they are touching each other, etc. I liked that Elekeles included the fact that they used a condom and they talked about it. It wasn't a big "conversation," just something they did in the normal course of having sex, and that seemed like a pretty positive way of including that important issue. Definite props on that.
The bottom line is that if you or your patrons like Perfect Chemistry, you're/they're sure to want and to enjoy Rules of Attraction. I know PC has been very popular in my library. And look, even though I had all these problems with PC, I was still anxious to read ROA. Also, even though ROA is the sequel and you'll understand the Fuentes family backstory a little better if you've read PC, you could still easily read ROA without having read PC first.
I liked the cover on this before I read the book, but I really liked it after I read the book. For one, it's a particular scene from the book, not just a generic cover of a guy and/or girl (which I figured before reading the book). But I don't know if I would have thought of choosing that scene, and I think it's a cool choice. I don't know, it just seems very original and poignant as a cover. And the cover is very faithful to the scene from the book, including the cars and what they're wearing.