*Although the books I review on my blog are almost always Christian fiction, there will be a few spotlighted regular fiction titles I will review from time to time.*
Ariana Osgood has everything an Easton Academy girl could want: straight A's, the perfect boyfriend, and a coveted spot in exclusive Billings House. But on the first night of Christmas vacation, a blizzard traps her on campus with irresistible bad-boy Thomas Pearson. Alone. Instead of snuggling with her boyfriend next to a cozy fire in Vermont, she's huddling for warmth with Thomas in Ketlar House.
As the snow transforms Easton into a winter wonderland, Ariana finds herself falling for Thomas. But someone is watching their clandestine romance unfold, someone intent on turning their holiday weekend into a nightmare...Last Christmas reveals the secret of what really happened before Private began -- and the shocking truth will change everything for fans of Kate Brian's bestselling series.
Having not read the previous books in this series, I was afraid I would be totally lost while reading this book. Even though I've read other YA fiction like Gossip Girl or The A List, somehow the Private series never really appealed to me. And after reading this book, I'm still not sure if it does. This is apparently a new trend in the publishing world, to have a prequel come out in between ending a series and then starting a new spin off.
The characters, at least in this book, aren't very likable. Ariana doesn't have a backbone, her boyfriend is controlling, her roommates and other friends are rich spoiled socialites, and the "bad" boy isn't very bad. Something that kind of bugged me throughout the book was if Ariana and Thomas were in a dorm that was freezing and had no heat, how could they even possibly think about having sex? Why would you remove clothes? It kept taking me away from the story. I noticed less fashion talk that other YA novels which was refreshing. Alcohol consumption is frequent, because obviously drinking laws don't apply to rich kids. Sex is a big factor in the story as usual. A great deal of the story is focused on Ariana picking a time and place to lose her virginity. I did not notice much cursing throughout the book, at least not as much as the Gossip Girl books use.
What does make the story unique is more violence with a mystery in the plot. And after reading some interviews with the author, that was the intention of the series. I wasn't too surprised to see the characters act so callously about death/murder. Money tends to numb your senses. It makes for a very interesting story and it does make me want to go back and see what happens now to Ariana and Thomas. It's just I feel like I don't really care about these characters and the book didn't convince me enough to do so.
With all the sex and violence in this book, this is one I definitely cannot recommend to this blog's readers. If you like the boarding school aspect, try Melody Carlson's Carter Girls series instead.
Last Christmas by Kate Brian is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2008)