Friday, 16 October 2015

Review: Beginner's Luck by Anna Lunde


Falling in love should never be this easy.

Mat Taylor is untouchable. An Australian country girl, she doesn’t date, she doesn’t fall in love and, oh yeah... she doesn’t dance after the love of her life left her standing alone on the dance floor at their Pro-Am Dance Championship debut.

Now in her last year of pre-med, Mat can’t seem to hold her life together. Her professor is on her back about her grades, her best friend can’t shake off his one night stand, and at the Cloudland ballroom, where Mat waits tables, a mysterious taxi dancer keeps ignoring her no matter how much she stalks him around the dance floor.

Her world may be falling apart, but Mat has a plan. It might be risky, crazy, and a little cheeky, but that has never stopped her before. She’s got the spunk to pull it off, if only she can let go of the one who has her heart. 


For a novella, Beginner's Luck really does pack a punch. It drops you into the middle of a situation and you're left wondering where all those hours of the day went. It's been a long time since a book held my interest for so long and I'm so glad I came across Anna Lunde's books and decided to give them a chance. 
      Beginner's Luck tangles you up in Matilda (Mat) Taylor's messy life. Mat is a tomboy to a fault. In fact I would say she's a step beyond being a tomboy and she's got so much to prove to everyone that she can come across as pretty abrasive. Lunde doesn't really delve into Mat's past with any great details so you're left trying to piece together the events that led Mat to be the person she is with the convictions that she has. There are hints of a betrayal that ended her love affair with dance but no big backstory, possibly due to the intended length of the novella. It's quite obvious that Lunde has a background in dance because the intricate descriptions of the dance moves and the emotions entangled in Mat's love/hate relationship with her former passion is quite visceral. 
      As a substitute for her lost passion, Mat now attends a pre-med university course, battles a growing crush on her room-mate Bradley and tries her hardest to overcome what she feels are the drawbacks of being a girl. She no longer wears make-up, dresses or heels. She covers her hair with hats and tries to blend into the crowd as much as possible. This is made harder because for all intents and purposes, Mat is conventionally gorgeous and to all the other characters, her attempts somehow make her all the more desirable. 
      Normally, I would be tearing my hair out at such Mary-Sue behaviour but I was able to keep reading because of Lunde's snappy writing style. There are no long lengthy descriptions of mundane objects in Beginner's Luck. The dialogue and prose is short and sharp and it moves with rapid speed. There's a lot of Australian jargon in this one so be warned because even as an Aussie I had a bit of a hard time keeping up! 
     The secondary characters were well fleshed out despite the length of the novella, though it helped that part of the story was told in separate POVs. There are four in total and they are all quite distinct which is no mean feat, though there was a point when I kind of felt as though the other POVs were there to reinforce how amazing and irresistible Mat was. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of the secondary characters and getting a look into their motivations. At first I wasn't a big fan of Bradley as he was being described from Mat's POV and I couldn't understand the "heat" between then because Brad seemed like your typical meat head. But when I read his perspective he really grew on me and it became a lot clearer why he behaved the way he did. I also enjoyed Fiona's POV because as the "other woman" the reader is pretty much conditioned to dislike her from the outset but it turns out I liked her more than a little. I actually kind of liked her more than Mat.
      This brings me to the only part of the novella that I found that I was unable to connect with and this was Mat herself. The fact that I kept reading regardless is a testament to Lunde's fantastic writing. I'm a self professed lover of snarky, sarcastic, kick-butt heroines but for some reason Mat rubbed me up the wrong way. I think it was the fact that she was beautiful, she knew she was beautiful and despite all her protests that she didn't want to be treated as merely a girl, in my opinion she had an air of arrogance about her that made it hard for me to connect and feel much sympathy for her. For example, there is a moment where she is deliberately being obstructive and makes other people move around her and then she thinks it's funny. She displays all the syndromes of a "don't want him but don't want anyone else to have him" sickness when it comes to Brad and pretty much strings him along and then wonders why her love life is so complicated. The worst part for me is her treatment of Fiona. I don't enjoy girl on girl hate over a man in any situation so it was hard for me to be empathetic towards Mat when Fiona came into the picture. I just couldn't understand how Mat could have issues with being treated differently because she was a girl and then turn around and call Fiona some of the names that she did and make some of the assumptions that she did. As this is the first in the series, I'm hoping that Mat's character growth is evolving and that she'll mature as the series goes on. I didn't hate her or anything, it was just frustrating to read, but again the quality of the writing more than made up for it.
      Overall I really enjoyed reading Beginner's Luck. It's an unconventional romance with a very distinct voice that will surprise you with it's depth. I urge you to give it a go. You won't be sorry. 




  1. Well I'm not surprised that the writing was great. ;) The annoying MC worries me though.

  2. Yeah, I'd be worried about the MC being annoying or hypocritical. But, it must have been good, despite that, or you wouldn't have rated it 5 stars.

  3. It's kind of hard to explain. It was as though Mat had all the power over everyone no matter who they were and not because of any reason besides her attractiveness. It's hard for me to like a character like that but she did have her redeeming moments and I'm hoping she'll be less selfish in future instalments.


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