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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Anna Elliot let worries about what people would think ruin her first real relationship. Since then, she's never really been attracted to anyone. She never really got over Finn Westbrook. And now, he's back. Over the missing three years, he's grow taller and cooler and her friends suddenly can't get enough of him. Now, though, Finn wants nothing to do with Anna and all she can think of is finding a way to win him back over or finding a way to convince herself she's over him. Either way, she must do something because this situation is driving her insane. Can she get Finn to forgive her past transgressions or will she be doomed to watch him date her friends for the rest of her high school career?
Anna was a girl I was unsure of initially. In the beginning, when she liked Finn but was worried about what her friends would think, I wanted to shake her. If these girls are really her friends, they'd be happy she found someone she liked and who was nice to her, not judge-y about his reputation. At least, that's how it'd work in a perfect world, but I get that these are issues that girls really go through. Having to choose between your friends and you're boyfriend is never an easy choice. She choose her friends, or rather she choose to not give her friends the option to know. At her age, that kind of decision is understandable, but as an adult watching her, I just shake my head at her immaturity. She doesn't even give her friends even the option to mull it over and get behind it. She just decides that her friends would never understand and her hurt poor Finn, a lot. Now, in the present, when he returns, she has spent years regretting that. It's not something she just starts to regret upon seeing he's new, prettier face. No, she's spent the years of their separation wonder how he is and missing him. Despite the fear of what her friends would think, she actually like him as he was. She liked the geeky, science obsessed boy who so always so enthusiastic about the things he loves. She can see that boy peeking out from the new Finn's eyes. She wants him back, even though she knows she doesn't deserve the chance. I loved that part. I loved that she knew that she'd fucked up and she was honestly trying to right a wrong.
Finn was completely lovable from moment one. He's so dorky and adorable, how can you not love him? I'll confess that I have a soft spot for geeks, so I knew immediately he would be a character I'd fall for. Then, upon his reappearance, with the added height and confidence, I was even more of a goner. Like Anna, I missed the enthusiastic geeking out over pretty photographs, but there was something appealing about the new facets of his personality. It really made me wonder how he spent those years apart. What did we miss, adorable Finn? Obviously, we missed a growth spurt, but beyond that, what happened? It was hard not to be on his side even when it was hurting Anna because he had be shunned and that type of thing isn't easy to get over.
Plot-wise, this went places I didn't exactly expect. Something happens about mid-way through that I didn't see coming, but it moves the novel along perfectly. I could instantly see why LaZebnik decided to take it there because it was exactly what the story needed. This novel really should have annoyed me because I generally hate love triangles of all kinds. I hate the angst of what will happen. I especially hate cheating, which inevitable happens in those. But here, watching Anna almost reap what she sowed, it was a touch satisfying to see it. She put herself into this situation by rejecting Finn even when she knew she liked him and now she has to deal with the fact that maybe he's moving on. Maybe he's moving on with one of her best friends and she'll have to watch.
I also really enjoyed watching Anna grow. It's clear that she's changed a bit since their first interlude and she's older and a bit wiser now. She's matured enough to know when to stand up for the people around her and to find the most effective way to do so. I think I just really liked Anna. It's not often that we get a book where the main character has genuinely wronged someone and now must live with the consequences.
The Last Best Kiss is written with Claire LaZebnik's classic wit and style. If you are a fan of her previous work, then you'll love this. I actually liked it more than Epic Fail. This is an amazing little contemporary romance about owning up to your mistakes and finding a way to work it out. And a happily ever after, naturally. I recommend it to all contemporary YA fans!
****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****