By Penelope Douglas
Ok, ok, I NEED to start off by saying that I am not usually a fan of forbidden romances. I try not to judge, but the whole teenager-falling-for-a-man-old-enough-to-be-her-dad thing usually skeeves me out. Am I a hypocrite? Maybe. My fiancé is 13 years older than me. But I was in my forties when we met. HUGE difference.
That said I felt a little gross when I read the blurb for Penelope Douglas’ latest, Birthday Girl and wanting to read it. But I loved, loved, loved Punk 57 so I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Boy, am I glad I did!
The novel centers around Jordan, a 19-year-old who is obsessed with 80s movies and is dating her best friend, Cole. When she and Cole fall on hard times, his dad, Pike, takes them in. Only Jordan wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to him….
Douglas manages really well to grow the attraction between Pike and Jordan without making it feel gross, tawdry or even unnecessary. These are just two characters that despite their age difference (he’s 38), really are perfect for each other.
The story of told from dual perspectives and Jordan is easy to like right away. She is a fighter and smart. Her odd obsession with all things 80s makes her a girl after my own heart. Pike is a great guy and a full-on book boyfriend. He doesn’t want to have feelings for his son’s girlfriend and his determination to fight them and be a good dad makes him so damn likable.
The fact that Douglas made me like this novel really is a credit to her writing. The characters were great (all of them), the attraction between the H and h was palpable, and the resolution at the end was beyond satisfying, it was perfection.
I’m giving this 4.5 stars. It really is that good!
Here are a few of my favorite quotes.
Pike’s life advice for Jordan:
“Time passes by you like a bullet,” he says, “and fear gives you the excuses you’re craving to not do the things you know you should. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t second-guess, don’t let fear hold you back, don’t be lazy, and don’t base your decisions on how happy it will make others. Just go for it, okay?”
On how he doesn’t want to break his son’s trust:
“I knew you were out there somewhere,” I tell her, quirking a sad smile. “The girlfriends, women I dated, Cole’s mother…. I never wanted to marry anyone, because they weren’t what I was looking for. I had started to think I had my sights set too high, and you didn’t exist.” I clasp the back of her neck and run my thumbs down her throat. “Turns out my dream girl belongs to the one person it would kill me to hurt.”
On being brave and taking chances:
“A ship at harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.”
On dealing with heartbreak:
I feel her eyes on me, because she knows I’m lying to myself, but like a friend, she lets me dive into my delusion. We need lies to survive sometimes, because the truth hurts too much.