One look at the bio of Prestsater and it is easy to generalise the background of the book – the author is a teacher who loves NFL and beer. I am also sure she snorts once in a while, likes sensitive men who surprise her with elaborate plans and go down on one knee to propose. She is witty, humorous, outspoken (maybe a bit crass) and values friendships and relationships.
It is easy to assume the above, because in all the three books, the protagonists are the same –even if they come in different names – Shelly Gelson in the first one (Against the Wall), Melissa Cruz in the second (Between the Sheets) and Summer MacGallian in the final one (Straddling the Edge). There are few differentiating factors of course, like Summer is more shy (though once she opens up and starts snorting, you realise she is just another Shelly) and Mel is more in-your-face (you’ve gotta love her!).
Set in Carver High School, “Against the Wall” starts off with a betrayal – by Chase Martino, the high-school sweetheart of Shelly, with another teacher, Summer. While Shel is finding it hard to let go, seeing them together every day does not help matters either. Mel, happily married (though slightly ignored by her ‘overworking’ husband), coaxes her to start dating, which is when Shel notices her colleague Mat Fuller. They are mutually attracted to each other, but Mat wants her to be sure that this was not rebound love. He encourages her to date other men. Some twists, turns and one more betrayal later, Shel and Matt are happily preparing themselves for the wedding, while Mel has started going out with Shel’s brother Tyler.
Continuing where the first one left off, “Between the Sheets” welcomes us with Matt and Shel’s marriage, and the buzzing chemistry and uncertainty of Mel and Ty’s romance. With Tyler working as an art teacher in another city, the long distance relationship seems jinxed from the start. There are compromises no one wants to make, and a lack of open communication no one wants to rectified. A bout of misunderstanding and some interventions later, they both finally have a heart-to-heart and figure out what would work the best for them.
The third one, an unexpected one at that, tells the story of Summer MacGallian, the woman Chase had fallen for while he was in a relationship with Shel. Believed to be a home-wrecker, we finally get to see a different side of her – a more lonely and a confused side with an identity crisis. With Mel and Shel, she finally comes on her own, and finds her happy ending as well with Dean, who could see beyond her beautiful body and one of the few men, who could treat her with respect.
The series sees the growth of the author herself – while the first book was too dreamy and make-believe, the second one was witty and funny, while the last one was more realistic and mature. While I did not like the fact that all the three love interests (Matt, Tyler and Dean) were way too perfect to be real, the books had a stronger theme holding it together – the strong characterisation of the women leads and the friendship between Mel, Shel and later, Summer. There was no helpless shaking of heads or wallowing of self-pity post the break-ups. These women dusted the hurt off, and got back on their feet quickly. It may have helped that these women were also fiercely loyal towards each other – they stuck together in times of need and prioritised their friendship amidst beers, vulgar jokes and harmless leg-pulling – a relationship we all have with our childhood friends.
As a romantic series, I would recommend this book to all the women in their late teens and early twenties. I can imagine going weak in the knees about 10 years ago. However, as a friendship series, this book would be able to touch the heart of even the most cynical of women. Finally, if you are one of those who finds the idea of reading a series daunting and could make do with one, I would strongly recommend ‘Straddling the Edge’ for its vulnerability or ‘Between the Sheets’ for its wit.
Rating: 3 Wine Glasses
Reviewed By: Archana