Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
November 27, 2012
Caroline Reynolds has a fantastic new apartment in San Francisco, a KitchenAid mixer, and no O (and we’re not talking Oprah here, folks). She has a flourishing design career, an office overlooking the bay, a killer zucchini bread recipe, and no O. She has Clive (the best cat ever), great friends, a great rack, and no O.
Adding insult to O-less, since her move, she has an oversexed neighbor with the loudest late-night wallbanging she’s ever heard. Each moan, spank, and–was that a meow?–punctuates the fact that not only is she losing sleep, she still has, yep, you guessed it, no O.
Enter Simon Parker. (No, really, Simon, please enter.) When the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. Their late-night hallway encounter has, well, mixed results. Ahem. With walls this thin, the tension’s gonna be thick…
In her third novel, Alice Clayton returns to dish her trademark mix of silly and steamy. Banter, barbs, and strutting pussycats, plus the sexiest apple pie ever made, are dunked in a hot tub and set against the gorgeous San Francisco skyline in this hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight. (Goodreads Summary.)
Just a little disclaimer for my YA and younger readership:)**
Last December, Leanna over at Daisy Chain Reviews, was commenting about how much she had enjoyed On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (you can read her awesome review HERE.) I decided that an adult contemporary romance was just what I needed, a nice little diversion from all the YA that I read. So I downloaded it for my Kindle and pretty much inhaled it in a single sitting. It WAS a great diversion! In fact it was so great that I immediately jumped on Amazon’s site and started looking for another book in a similar vein. I didn’t want paranormal romance, I wanted to stick with something contemporary. After some searching I ran across Wallbanger by Alice Clayton. I gotta admit that the thumbnail of the cover is what attracted me to the book initially. And then there is the title…not the most subtle. I read the description, and while I thought it was cute, what really sold me on the book was all the positively glowing reviews. So I downloaded it and started reading. Guys, I was laughing out loud within seconds. And once I started, I never stopped. I enjoyed it even more than On Dublin Street and for a variety of reasons. So even though The Flyleaf Review is primarily a YA book blog (with the occasional New Adult and Middle Grade book thrown in) I HAD to write up a review for this book that I loved so much. I’ve been steadily pushing it on friends and other bloggers ever since (my apologies for my pushiness:) For me, it was the perfect book to read at that time. So here is my PG review of this R rated book:)
So, what you should know first is that I don’t think the above synopsis does this book justice. So much talk about the O! And yes, the loss of Caroline’s O is a big part of this book. But this book isn’t just about a sexual relationship between Caroline and her neighbor, Simon “Wallbanger” Parker. There is actually quite a sweet courtship and love story written in, one where both characters grow and develop, before either of them ever do the deed. As cute as that summary is, and while I appreciate that it is EXACTLY what some readers are looking for when they decide to pick this book up, I wanted you to know that I thought it only scratches the surface of what is really a very well written and lovely romance.
Next, you should know that Alice Clayton is HILARIOUS. Seriously, this woman can write some comedy. This book is very swoony and sexy, but it is all the FUNNY that makes it such a hit for me. If you are a fan of Sex and the City, if you love all the funny and slightly raunchy girl talk moments between Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda you will love this book because in addition to the two main characters of Caroline and Simon, there are some really great secondaries written is. Caroline’s two best friends, Mimi and Sophia, and Simon’s two best friends, Neil and Ryan, have the same dynamics as that fabulous foursome from Sex in the City.
And the banter between Simon and Caroline is awesome. It’s playful and flirty to be sure, and really amps up the sexual tension between the two, but it’s super humorous as well. And all of the dialogue in the book was entertaining and engaging. It flowed easily and felt real.
Let me back up just a bit and give a little more info on the story at hand. Caroline is an interior designer living in San Francisco. She’s got a great job with a really fun boss, with whom she has a very relaxed relationship. In fact her boss has sublet her apartment to Caroline after moving into her new home with her fiánce. As noted, Caroline has got a great set of supportive girlfriends. So life is going good. Fab career, check. Great friends, check. Cool new digs, check. Funny, slightly possessive and neurotic cat named Clive, check. What’s missing? Hmmm…her love life. Seems that a few months back, after a string of ho- hum relationships, Caroline had a disastrous one-night stand with someone she not-so- affectionately refers to as “Cory Weinstein, that Machine Gun Effer” (keeping this PG, kids.) After a really BAD sexual encounter, Caroline has been unable to achieve the big O. She is convinced that Cory totally hijacked the O, and no one and no thing has been able to retrieve it. Clearly our girl Caroline is a wee bit frustrated.
It certainly does not help matters when, the first night she sleeps at her new apartment, she is awoken at 2 am to her next door neighbors late night escapades. It’s annoying but kind of funny because apparently they are LOUD and VOCAL. And then all the headboard banging knocks a picture off of Caroline’s wall and clocks her on the head (hence the neighbor’s nickname of Wallbanger.)
Fast forward to the next night and Caroline is awoken AGAIN. But this time there are new vocalizations, and it’s clear it’s a different lady. Night three–AGAIN. And again, a different girl. Then, blessed silence for a couple of weeks. Caroline, sleep depraved and rattled (not to mention having to deal with a cat who has been climbing the walls because one of Wallbanger’s lady friends likes to meow,) questions her boss and her other neighbors hoping to figure what this guy’s story is. Turns out her neighbor is named Simon and he’s a photojournalist who is often out of town on assignments. But when he is back in town, Caroline soon discovers, he is often busy with what she calls his “harem.” Always the same three girls and always on three subsequent nights. She’s a bit grossed out, she’s annoyed, she’s frustrated, and she’s VERY curious to get a look at this guy (who wouldn’t be?)
The two eventually meet, under pretty amusing circumstances. And then they meet again, under more formal circumstances, and the story takes off from there. What begins as animosity towards each other develops into a friendship with some serious sexual tension thrown in for good measure.
Character wise, I loved Caroline. She’s smart, independent, funny, witty, loyal, and she’s got a great big heart. All in all she is an extremely likable person, she can go a little crazy and get a little angsty sometimes, but she also can hold her own and never lets anyone treat her like a doormat. She sort of reminds me of a mature version of Jessica Darling. She makes mistakes, usually with hilarious results, but I loved watching her learn from them and develop as a character. I also loved her inner dialogue– her head was really fun to get into.
And let me tell you, Clayton does a great job of transforming Simon from what seems like another shallow man-whore into a really well developed, sweet and serious male lead. He’s a pretty boy but there is much more to him under the surface. I love a bad boy, so his escapades at the story’s start didn’t turn me off, but for readers who might cringe at his earlier behavior, rest assured the boy does redeem himself.
The two of them have serious chemistry and there are swoony and sexy moments a plenty. Lots of “Awww…he’s a keeper” and lots of “WHOA. That’s hot…” Something for everyone:)
But what I REALLY appreciated about Wallbanger was that it deviated from the somewhat standard contemporary romance plot line of “they meet, they court, they get together, then they fight and break up, only to reunite at the end of the book.” I see this in a TON of contemporary YA as well as adult contemporary romance. Well I am happy to report that Wallbanger breaks with this tradition. I won’t give particulars but it was unexpected and a pleasant surprise.
Another fun part of the book is that while Caroline, Simon and the other characters are twenty-somethings, there are a lot of pop culture references (mentions of Jordan Catalano and My So Called Life, Brat Pack films, etc.) that will appeal to an older market (older as in my age). And there are some great foodie moments too. Caroline is a big Barefoot Contessa fan and talented baker and I loved that part of her personality. This book will appeal to twenty-something’s for sure, but I wonder if they will appreciate all the subtle references that I got as an older reader.
So in sum, this book was a big fat hit for me. It was so much fun to read and a PERFECT distraction from reading teenage storylines. I love my YA, that hasn’t changed, but it is very nice to read grown-up books from time to time. In fact, reading Wallbanger and On Dublin Street has encouraged me to branch out in my reading and start picking up more adult fiction, so don’t be surprised to see more reviews like this one pop up in the future. I’m a romantic so I will probably stick with the Contemp. Romance genre for now, and there are a couple of authors out there that I want to read next, like Sara Manning and more Jennifer Crusie (I’ve read one of her books and loved it.) I’m also going to check out Clayton’s Redhead Series. If anyone has any other suggestions I would love to hear them!
If you like funny, engaging, swoony, sexy, yet touching adult contemporary romance, or if you are like me, wanting to take a little break every now and then from YA, you should definitely give Wallbanger a look:)