Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
Good Girl Complex
by Elle Kennedy
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Book 1 in the Avalon Bay Series
Mackenzie "Mac" Cabot is a people pleaser.
Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It's exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents' insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.
Mac's had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.
Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn't just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he's been keeping from her threatens the only place she's ever felt at home.
Good Girl Complex is the debut novel in Elle Kennedy's (Off-Campus series) new series, Avalon Bay. It centers around MacKenzie Cabot, a young entrepreneur, who is forced to attend the same preppy college her parents attended, despite already being successful, to appease her demanding parents, and Cooper Hartley, an Avalon Bay local, who is saving money to start his own business. The only thing that Mac is happy about is that she will finally be living in the same town as her long-term boyfriend - a boyfriend who has a run in with "bad boy" Cooper. After Cooper loses his job because a rich "clone" demands it, it further cements his hatred for the wealthy college kids in his town. Mac's impression of Cooper is thoroughly different from her boyfriends though. While Cooper initially befriends the beautiful Mackenzie to get revenge on her boyfriend and other clones, he soon learns that there is a lot more to Mac than he believed. As their friendship grows, and their attraction deepens, they lead each other down paths neither expected. But will the secret behind how they met tear them apart?
Oh, how I missed Elle Kennedy! If you have read my reviews on her other books (the Off-Campus series, and Briar-U series), you know I love her writing style. She can write chemistry between characters effortlessly, amazing banter, and even if there is darker content in the story, she manages to write it with grace and manage a believable happily ever after. We get all of that in Good Girl Complex. Great banter. Amazing chemistry. Romance. I really enjoyed it, and it was the first time in a while I was able to read a book in a day, because I couldn't put it down. I feel like Elle Kennedy could have easily fell back on her already very successful books, and slapped different names on those characters, and inserted them into Avalon Bay, but she didn't. I felt that Mac and Cooper were thoroughly unique for Elle. The only couple Mac and Cooper reminded me of from her past books was Fitz and Summer, and that's only because of the grump/sunshine trope, and the fact that Mac is rich. Don't get me wrong though - there were things I didn't like. Specifically with Cooper. His plan for revenge seemed incredibly short sighted and juvenile, and the fact that his friends and brother were excited about it made them seem childish. It just seemed like a lazy way to get these characters in the same room. And I wasn't a fan of Mac cheating on her boyfriend, despite him being a huge dick. One of the many reasons we don't like the douche is because he cheats. We don't want our heroine cheating too. I did appreciate that unlike him though, she stopped herself, and was immediently honest with her boyfriend. Unlike him. So there is a big difference between them, because she genuinely felt guilty, whereas he doesn't. Aside from that, was it just me, or was the steam in this book not as ... steamy as her previous work? I mean, it's fine. It wasn't fade to black (which if you know me, you know I hate), but it wasn't as hot as The Deal.
Is Good Girl Complex as good as The Deal was as the first book in a series? No. Was it still an enjoyable read? Hell yes! Do I plan to continue with the series when the next book comes out in the fall? Yes! Honestly, I feel like you can't go wrong with an Elle Kennedy romance.
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Cooper: "What if I told you, an hour from now, you'd be leaving this bar with me?"
Mac: "I'd say I admire your hustle, but you'd be better off aiming that arrow at another target."
Mac: "Alright. I'll take that bet. But if you think this ends up with getting me into bed, you might as well pay up now."
Cooper: "Right. Wouldn't want to tempt you with a good time."
She rolls her eyes, failing to hide a smile.
Cooper: "Now about that bet, princess. We never did set the stakes."
Mac: "What do you want, then?"
Fair's fair. If nothing else, I'm a woman of my word.
Cooper: "You want to make out?"
I play it cool, but my pulse kicks into a new gear.
Mac: "What else do you want?"
Cooper: "I mean, I figured a blowjob was a nonstarter, but if we're negotiating ..."
Despite myself, I crack a smile.
Mac: "You're shameless."
Somehow he manages to release the tension from the moment, erasing all awkwardness until I'm no longer hyperaware of myself.
he says, a sexy grin tilting his lips.
Cooper: "You drive a hard bargain. I'll go down on you first."
Cooper: "Secondly, are you sure we're not going to hook up?"
He rolls his eyes at me.
Cooper: "Fine, then thirdly - yes, I guess I'll settle for friendship."
Mac: "How kind of you."
Mac: "Oh God. I'm already reconsidering. I feel like you're going to be a high-maintenance friend."
Cooper: "Bullshit. I'll be the best friend you've ever had. I always go above and beyond what's expected of me. I mean, I've liberated goats for my friends. Can you say the same?"
Mac: "Goats, plural? You mean it wasn't just the one?"
Cooper: "Nah, it was only the one goat. But one time, I did steal a goldfish for my friend Alana."
Mac: "Awesome. I'm friends with a thief."
Mac: "Are you stalking me now?"
Cooper: "You stroll by my jobsite in"
-he gestures , looking me up in down -
Cooper: "some ridiculous ruffle dress thing and all this leg, like, 'Oh, don't mind me, boys, I hate attention.'"
Mac: "That is exactly how I sound."
I reply, rolling my eyes.
Mac: "I happen to love flowers. Especially on clothes. The flashier, the better."
Cooper rolls his eyes as if he knows I'm lying through my teeth.
Cooper: "You know, you don't have to work this hard. I'm pretty easy."
Mac: "I'm sorry, what? Who's working too hard? You've been blowing up my phone talking about scone porn."
Cooper: "You're kinky."
he says, shrugging
Cooper: "I get it. It's not my thing, but whatever gets you off."
Mac: "I shudder to think what's rattling around in your spank bank."
Cooper: "If you're trying to get me into bed, you can just ask."
Cooper: "I can do this myself."
I tell her as she sets out a bottle of alcohol and cotton swabs.
Mac: "Are you going to be difficult?"
She eyes me with a raised brow. The earnest conviction on her face is cute, in a stubborn shut up and take your medicine sort of way.
Mac: "Good. Now take off your shirt.
A grin tugs on my lips.
Cooper: "This was your plan all along? To get me naked?"
Mac: "Good. Now take off your shirt."
A grin tugs on my lips.
Cooper: "This was your plan all along? To get me naked."
Mac: "Yes, Cooper. I broke into an animal shelter, stole a puppy, placed it in a perilous situation, swam out to rescue it myself - so as to not raise your suspicions that it was I, in fact, who trapped the dog on the jetty - then telepathically ordered the dog to scratch you up. All so I could see your perfect pecs."
She finishes with a snort.
Cooper: "Extreme actions, but I get it. My pecs are perfect. They're transcendent."
Mac: "So's your ego."
I blink again.
Cooper: "No what?"
Mac: "You ave that look on your face. You're brooding."
Cooper: "I'm not brooding."
Mac: "Yes, you are. Your face is totally saying, I'm lost in my broody thoughts because I'm SUCH a tortured bad boy."
She gives him a stern look.
Mac: "Snap out of it, Hartley. We were discussing some pretty insightful stuff."
Cooper: "We were talking about cotton candy."
Cooper: "Junk science."
Mac: "I swear."
Cooper: "Cite your sources."
Mac: "Some magazine."
Cooper: "Ohhhh, of course! Some magazine - the most reputable of publications."
She glares at me.
Mac: "Why can't you just accept I'm right?"
Cooper: "Why can't you accept you might be wrong?"
Mac: "I'm never wrong."
Tate: "What's taking Ren so long to forgive you? Your epic reunions usually happen fairly fast."
Wyatt: "She's dragging it out this time. She went out with some meathead from her gym last night and sent me a selfie of them watching The Bachelorette together because she knew it'd piss me off."
I raise an eyebrow.
Cooper: "Why would that piss you off?"
Wyatt: "Because it's our favorite show, dickhead. She's goddamn TV-cheating on me with a guy who wears mesh tank tops."
Mac: "Look, I came to apologize."
Cooper: "That right?"
Cooper takes up the whole doorway, strong arms braced on either side.
Mac: "I was out of line. I never should have insinuated you have herpes. Perpetuating the stigma of STDs and slut-shaming is wrong, and I'm sorry."
Mac: "I've never slapped anyone before."
Cooper: "You're pretty good at it. Fucking hurt."
Mac: "If it makes you feel any better, my hand was still sore when I woke up today You have a hard face."
Cooper: "It does make me feel better. A little."
When it storms you can hear her screaming ...
My pulse accelerates as Evan's words buzz around in my head. Was he serious about this place being haunted? What the hell had he called her again -
Mac: "Patricia? Is that you?"
The light fixture above my head flickers.
A startled yelp rips out of my throat, causing Daisy to crawl backward and disappear deeper under the bed.
I leave Cooper's room, heart pounding. Candles. I should probably find some candles in case the power goes out. Because nothing sounds less appealing to me than sitting in the dark listening to the shrieks of a century-old dead child.
As if on cue, the shrill noises start up again, a cacophony of sound mingling with the crashes of thunder outside the old beach house.
I call out. Steady voice now. Hands, not so much.
Mac: "Look, let's be cool, okay? I know it's probably not fun being dead, but that doesn't mean you have to scream your lungs out. If you use your indoor voice, I'm happy to sit down and listen to whatever you -"
Another scream pierces the air.
Mac: "Or not. Fine. You win, Patricia. Just keep scaring the crap out of me, then."
Steph: "What would I tell Cooper if you got electrocuted up there?"
Alana: "Yeah, no. We would've had to hide the body and tell Cooper you skipped own."
When I raise an eyebrow at her, she shrugs, grinning blithely.
Alana: "What? You haven't seen Cooper's temper. It's self-preservation at that point."
Cooper: "You could've been killed. In case you hadn't noticed, we're practically in the middle of a hurricane."
My jaw drops.
Mac: "Are you kidding me right now? In case I hadn't noticed? And now you're suddenly worried about my safety? You're the one who left me at your house in the middle of a hurricane. I was all alone there! Just me and Patricia screaming like a banshee!"
He blinks at me as if I'm insane.
Cooper: "Her name is Daisy."
I stumble to my feet, clutching the blanket around myself like a toga.
Mac: "I'm not talking about the dog! I'm talking about Patricia!"
Cooper: "I don't know who Patricia is, you lunatic!"
Mac: "The little dead girl who drowned outside your house a hundred years ago and -"
I stop, my outraged gaze swinging toward Evan, whose lips are twitching wildly.
Mac: "You asshole! Seriously?"
Evan crosses his arms across his chest.
Evan: "Mackenzie. Sweetheart. I'm not going to apologize for you being gullible. This one's on you."
Mac: "You can sleep it off in Bonnie's room. She's out tonight and I know she won't mind."
Evan: "She'd better not. I made her come three times that night."
I choke out a laugh.
Mac: "How kind of you."
Mac: "You seem unsure."
Cooper: "No, no. I'm not. It's, uhh ..."
Mac: "A big commitment?"
She's smiling. Grinning, actually. I think this chick is laughing at me.
Cooper: "I'm not afraid of commitment, if that is what you're suggesting."
Cooper: "I'll commit the shit out of you."
Evan: "Aww, come here you little shit."
Cooper: "If you two are done, can we get this damn tree finished?"
Mac: "Keep that attitude up and you're not getting your present tonight?"
Evan: "Please. Baby Potato Jesus can hear you."
Cooper: "I might just be falling in love with you, Cabot."
My heart jumps.
Cooper: "You have no idea."
Mac: "Wait. I don't get it. If there are boats coming to the island, why can't I get on one and sail home to safety?"
Tate: "Because that's not the point!"
Tate's blue eyes convey pure exasperation.
Mac: "But I've essentially been rescued. So why can't I get on a boat? I'd way rather do that than pick between Cooper and a bunch of supplies without having access to either boat."
Tate: "But that's the actual dilemma! Not how you're going to get off the island. You have to choose."
Mac: "I choose the boats!"
Fuck love. Build the empire.
#friendstolovers #oppositesattract #rich #squad #playboy #grump