Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

Published:  June 11th, 2013
Spies And Prejudice
By: Talia Vance
Egmont USA
ISBN-13:  9781606842607

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend.  She's busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she's sure all men commit.  And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eigth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant -- and gorgeous -- Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her "nothing amazing," it's no loss for Berry.  She'll forget about him in no time.  She's more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother's death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way?  Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat?  And why can't Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.


    Berry Fields has been working as a private investigator for her Dad for years now, because no one ever notices a teenager following them.  And she usually manages to catch all the liars and cheaters that are trying to scam other people.  Berry herself doesn't date and isn't really interested in it.  Then Tanner blows into town and declares that Berry is nothing special.  She can't help noticing how hot he is, even while she's determined to ignore and shun him for his arrogance.  All of this romantic confusion doesn't help either, when she sees her best friend's Dad handing off papers with her dead Mom's name on them.  Berry thought, along with everyone else, that her Mom committe suicide.  But now there is a very real possibility that her Mom might have been murdered to stop her from blowing the whistle on something illegal.  It's up to Berry to find out the truth, with help from her best friend Mary Chris Moss, her crush Ryan and of course Ryan's annoying brother, Tanner.  But will the truth be worth uncovering and will it hurt more than the lies ever did?
     I had some major fun with this one!  It was snarky, funny and I loved how much it had in common with one of my favorite shows ever, Veronica Mars.  It's a pretty loose adaptation of P&P, with mostly just the title and character types playing into the original frame of Austen's novel.  Every once in a while, there is a nod to the original novel - an enterprise named Pemberly, Drew who is the obvious Wickham parallel, etc.  It isn't overwhelming though.  I liked that Berry was a smart, independent girl who has a strong friendship with Mary Chris.  My least favorite thing about her would be her "damage" when it comes to romance.  It just felt a little too much like a convenient excuse for a strained romance dynamic between her and Tanner for my taste.  Berry's relationship with her Dad was mostly good and it did seem to have a pretty great depth to it.  But the way he treats her Mom's death and the investigation was a little too head-in-the-sand to appeal to me.  Berry acted more adult about it than he did.  
     The whole corporate espionage, FDA scandal thing was kind of bizarre but I did appreciate it for being different from most of what all else I've seen other authors do when it comes to "murder" mysteries in YA fiction.  The ending while resolved, was still a little bit open.  It makes me wonder if Vance is considering a sequel at all, but if not I am satisfied with the end.  Overall, it wasn't very good as a P&P retelling.  I feel like that component to this book was almost completely unnecessary and sometimes actually harmed my enjoyment of the plot and characters.  But it definitely succeeds as a slightly fluffy, slighty deep YA mystery with a sense of humor.  If you're into the teen P.I. thing, or a VMars fan I'd recommend it to you.  But if you're looking for a strong YA P&P retelling, look elsewhere.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*I received this book from Egmont USA, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on June 11th, 2013.*

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