[Blog Tour: Review] The Love Game by Emma Hart

The Love Game (The Game, #1) 
Title: The Love Game
Author: Emma Hart
Release Date: March 29, 2013
His challenge? Make her fall in love with him.
Her challenge? Play the player.
Until life changes the rules of the game.

Maddie Stevens hated Braden Carter on sight. Arrogant, egotistical, and the playboy of the University of California, Berkeley, he's everything her brother Pearce has taught her to despise. So why, when the girls challenge her to play the player, doesn't she say no? She doesn't know either.

Braden wanted fiery little Maddie the second he laid eyes on her - and he'd do anything to have her, hence why he's agreed to make her fall in love with him. After all, it's the only way he'll get what he wants. Sex.

But, as Braden discovers, there's more to the girl from Brooklyn than he ever imagined - and he can't help but care about the broken girl behind those pretty green eyes.

Maddie finds Braden isn't just a walking erection - he actually has feelings. He can be sweet, funny and his good looks don't exactly hurt. That means trouble - but when her brother Pearce turns up in Berkeley begging for her help, she realises Braden and Pearce aren't so alike anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, they're exactly what each other needs.

The plot of The Love Game reminded me somewhat of John Tucker Must Die (which I consider a favorite - yes, I am rather passionate towards chick flicks, don't judge!) so upon seeing the blurb, I knew I had to give this one a shot. It's not that I have no idea what will ultimately happen to the characters (because you just know that the heroine will fall in love with the jerk of a hero), but I was curious to see how this particular story would unfold. I wanted a quick read - nothing too serious, but not too shallow and superficial either - and I think The Love Game fits that description to a T. It's not without faults by any means, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of people would love this one.

So yes, let me begin with the plot. After seeing and hearing too much about Braden Carter's douchey womanizing ways, three girls decide to do something about it... and they enlist the help of Maddie. Maddie accepts her friends' issued challenge to play the player - Maddie has to make Braden fall in love with her, and at the end of the day, toss him to the curb. It's not a wholly original storyline, but I still find it interesting in the sense that there are just so many things that can go wrong with the three girls' plan of teaching Braden a lesson, and yet they somehow don't give a damn about that. They're blase, carefree, and I don't know... so young. (I know, I know, I'm not old by any means but college was practically a lifetime ago.) The way they approached their lives - guns blazing and everything - made me a little wistful, I guess. Anyway,  unbeknownst to the girls, the guys issued a challenge to Braden of their own, and of course that complicates things. (I'm talking about Maddie's friends throughout this paragraph, just to be clear.)

It's not that I didn't enjoy the novel, because I mostly did, but I wasn't really fond of certain plot points - a major one of which is the storyline revolving around Maddie's relationship with her brother Pearce. Her whole dilemma with her brother (which stemmed her desire to teach Braden a lesson) was a bit weak, and it most definitely wasn't explored enough. As a matter of fact, it felt out of place. Maddie kept on comparing Braden and Pearce even though they were not the least bit alike, and this whole notion just felt forced. When the time came for Maddie to come clean to Braden about Pearce and her family, I just couldn't make myself feel anything - in my opinion, it would have been better if Maddie's past was revealed bit by bit and not in just one outburst. Readers would be able to empathize with her more then.

Another peeve of mine was how it was Braden's best friend, Megan, who concocted the plan in the first place. I don't know about you guys, but I would never set up my best friend to get his heart broken. That's just wrong in so many levels, despite how good your intention might be. Here we have Braden making it known to everyone how much he adored and respected Megan, and on the other hand, we have Megan who made a game of Braden. I couldn't get past this development no matter how hard I tried, because setting up to intentionally hurt someone is just... evil in my book.

Up to this point, you may be asking me if I truly liked this novel because I have a bunch of qualms about it, but I truly liked the parts wherein we get to see just how strong Maddie's friendships with the rest of the girls are, and I also enjoyed reading about Braden and his friends. I loved reading about the big group's trip to Vegas too. In short, I enjoyed reading the 'fun' parts, if you may, where things weren't too serious, and the bets were just that - bets, and there were no deep back stories in tow. I can't help but this book was trying too hard to be dark, and a lot of character and plot development were rushed because of that. Why not just play the player because the Maddie simply felt like it or something, and have her character grow from that? Maddie's reasoning behind agreeing to the challenge just felt off-kilter.

As I have mentioned, this novel isn't without its faults, but I can truly see a lot of people enjoying reading it. While I would have preferred The Love Game to be a bit more fun (I really should find another synonym for fun), hey, everyone has his or her own opinion, right? Overall, this is still an intriguing beginning to a series, and I think the next book would probably be about Megan, which I will most definitely read because I want to get inside her head. The last passage of The Love Game is a favorite too, so make sure to look out for that!

Rating: 3 Stars

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