Top critical review
3.2 stars: Best Dating Rules by Tamie Dearen
Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2017
Emily moves to NYC and takes a job in her stepdad's company, just a few desks down from Spencer, and their relationship progresses through some seriously dramatic ups and downs; all while her mom is having health issues, and her sister Charlie is being even more stubborn than Emily about trusting the man who loves her.
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 3 -- Plot mixes cliche/overly convenient with unique/interesting. Includes a handful of scenes that pull away from the main focus. Plot points in sub-plots are dropped or not resolved. Setting (including timeline) is somewhat unclear or inconsistent. There's too much going on in this one. Not only is this about Emily and Spencer's relationship, but we also have a continuation of Anne and Steven's story, plus the introduction of several other romances that will apparently be wrapped up in books 3 and 4. And while there are interesting and enjoyable aspects to all these stories, the end result is a book that feels unfocused and messy. We also now have 3 romances that are variations on the same theme: trying to decide whether to trust a man with a reputation (deserved or not) for being a player. The lack of variety is disappointing. And the timeline is super vague throughout, and sometimes contradictory.
Characters: 3 -- Main characters are only partially relatable, realistic, interesting, and/or dynamic. Some minor characters have depth, while others may be slightly stereotyped or simplified. Relationships between characters are not especially well developed, but what is there is generally good. I didn't really connect with any of the characters in this one. There are just a lot of bizarre or outright stupid decisions going around. Emily makes several especially poor decisions, several of which could have ended up killing her. I like Spencer, but his choice to let pride keep him from correcting Emily's misconception of him is plain foolish. There's a range of minor characters, including some definite stereotypes. I did enjoy the bits about Anne and Steven, though.
Mechanics and Writing: 3.6 -- A handful of typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. (<16/100 pgs) Some of the errors are mildly confusing. Good use of POV. Generally skillful writing. Errors include: compound word and/or homophone confusion (most often mixing up any more and anymore), mild punctuation or formatting issues, some awkward or inconsistent phrases. POV is all 3rd person, but switches between quite a few different perspectives: Emily and Spencer, Anne and Steven, Charlie, etc. It's a big change from all-Anne book 1, and I prefer the other way.
Redeeming Value: 3.6 -- Partially focused uplifting themes or lessons. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are not glorified. No explicit sex scenes, but plenty of emphasis on physical attraction. Implied moral guidelines for behavior. As with book 1, the characters set some clear sexual boundaries, but lots of time is devoted to describing them ogling each other and kissing. Lessons perhaps include honesty, and being wise, not just innocent.
Personal Enjoyment: 3 -- I liked it. It was enjoyable and entertaining. I wouldn’t mind re-reading it someday, but it’s not a priority.