Title: With A Twist (2015)
Author: Staci Hart
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Extent: 386 pages
Review: With A Twist is the story of Lily Thomas, a professional ballerina dancing for The New York City Ballet, and West Williams, a Shakespeare geek and a Literature TA. Their friendship has always been easy, the boundaries clearly defined, and it wasn’t until now that they started considering more. Alas, things are never that easy.
This one is a typical friends-turned-lovers novel, with one-night-stands, jealous rivals, pretty people, man buns, opera plays and ballet performances thrown in. The execution, at best, was average: the main characters weren’t all that ‘unique’ compared to all the other heros/heroines in the genre, the side characters blurred into each other, and the book overall relied too much on the cliches of the friends-to-lovers theme: overprotectiveness, sudden jealousy, obliviousness. The rivalry between Lily and Nadia, fellow ballerina, was also really over the top. It made me wish that I could read a book where healthy rivalries exist. Because they do in real life, promise.
I’m also always ambivalent about books that are written from two perspectives and always have been—it often gives away the ending (i.e. who’s going to end up with who, sounds exactly the same even though it’s supposedly two different people, and doesn’t have a specific purpose apart from the author wanting to indulge in the she-said-he-said. Well, I’m not sure it works in this book either; Lily’s and West’s voices overlap and I often find that it slows down the plot.
The only thing that I think was quite special was that the book opens right when Lily is getting nailed by Blane, her ultra-hot, man-of-her-dreams childhood crush, and not quite enjoying it. I think that was a daring move—it certainly put me straight up on my seat! I had to reread the first page twice just to make sure I was understanding it all correctly. Good one, Hart.
The romance was enjoyable, sweet and light-hearted, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re bound to enjoy the development between West and Lily. I’m not in love with either of them but I was actively rooting for them, and my enjoyment of the book picked up when they finally got together. These two are good for each other, their easy banter a delight to read. If only they got together sooner, maybe I would have enjoyed it more.
This book was really easy bedtime reading—no complicated drama, just the right amount of conflict, enough character and relationship growth—but it also didn’t really challenge any conventions or try anything new. With A Twist, in the end, does not actually come with a twist (pardon my pun).