by Elle Kennedy
Publication: February 1, 2022
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
The Good Girl Complex is set in the fictional small town of Avalon Bay where there is a divide between those who live in the town and the rich kids who attend the prestigious college located in it. The “clones” or the rich kids spend their money frivolously and look down upon those who live in the town. Townies hate the clones and stick together but are more than willing to make money off of them. Two individuals from different social classes fall for each other against the wishes of their family and friends.
MacKenzie is a good girl and townie bad boy Cooper helps her realize that living a little might be the best thing for her. Going after what she wants is better than following the plan others have set forth for her. It’s not until she starts spending time with Cooper that she lets her independent and stubborn nature shine through. Unlike her parents and boyfriend, Cooper doesn’t stifle her or disregard her aspirations; he supports her risky endeavors. Even as Cooper pushes her to remain steadfast in doing what she wants, even as she begins to fall for him, the reason he initially pursues her hangs over their entire relationship and the reason is bad enough that Cooper doesn’t want her to know the truth.
As soon as I started reading, I knew where the book was headed but I couldn’t help continuing on even as I rolled my eyes a little at the beginning. As the title suggests, Mackenzie is a good girl and has a bit of a Pollyanna feel to her. She doesn’t have as much boy experience, having been with only one person, and she still believes in love and being faithful, though the latter gets shaken up. She is smart and already a self-made millionaire even though her family is well-off. Cooper is made out to be the quintessential bad boy with his tattoos and demeanor, but he also has a good heart. He and his twin have had a rough life with an alcoholic father and a mother who abandoned them after their father’s death.
As can be seen from both characters and the plot, the tropes are common enough that one can imagine how the story might be worn but in Kennedy’s hands the story is well-polished. Her writing has always been engaging to me and continues to be so here. The Good Girl Complex is filled with witty banter between the two leads, and they have sizzling chemistry. It’s hard not to want them together even though Mackenzie has a boyfriend. The attraction is nearly immediate, and it’s lust that does a lot of the talking until it feels like it could be love, making the relationship appear plausible. This endeared me to their potential relationship and the book even more.
Although I liked the book, there were some things I noticed that took off a little of the sheen. Aside from Mackenzie, everyone else seems older than in their 20s. I’m not sure if they were meant to be written that way because of life circumstances or they really were older. There were some things that just seemed randomly convenient and allowed Mackenzie to be what was needed at a moment’s notice. Additionally, there were some unnecessary drama that felt more like filler than conducive to the plot and the relationship.
Read it if you’re a fan of Elle Kennedy and you like small town romances that feature individuals from opposite sides of the town who like one another for exactly as they are.
**As a fair warning, there is cheating. Even if the physical transgressions seem minor, the emotional cheating is the more severe here. It could be worse but it was just enough to make me groan and not enough to have to set aside and take a break. Also, cheating is made out to be a norm among some people and this bothered me a little–it was a bit sad.