Published by Harlequin Teen on October 1st 2013
Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.
Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….
STIR ME UP has been on my TBR for ages. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really uninspired by my current pile which was all a bit heavy and gloomy and I just wanted something cute and light to read. STIR ME UP definitely fit the bill but while it had some high points by the book’s end it left me feeling kind of cold.
STIR ME UP is about Cami, about to graduate high school, she’s at a crossroads in her life. Having spent her childhood in the kitchen of her father’s restaurant, she now has to decide if it’s what she really wants to do with her career or should she listen to her father and go to college. When her stepmother’s nephew Julian is injured and discharged from the Marines, he comes to stay with Cami and her family. Sparks fly as both Cami and Julian have to decide what to do with their respective lives but also as they grow closer how to fit into each other’s…
Okay let’s talk about what I liked about STIR ME UP. It is always refreshing to read a book where options other than college are presented as viable prospects for a young person (or anyone for that matter.) I loved how Elkins showed how choosing a more practical “on the job” education could be just as fulfilling and successful as going the degree route. Cami’s uncertainty and how her father’s pressure to choose college played on her doubts was handled really well and I loved how ultimately trust was shown in Cami’s ability to know what she truly wants to do with her life and the realisation that her choices come with consequences as well as rewards. I also loved how responsibility played a huge role in this book and the importance of recognising when too much is too much.
Following your heart plays a big role not only in career matters in this book but also in love, sex and most importantly consent. It was uncomfortable to read at times the pressure that Cami was under to give in to her boyfriend’s desires and sleep with him. Little by little as she acquiesced to his demands you could see how the boundaries being pushed affected her. Sex at any age is always a sensitive subject particularly when it comes to being ready and putting your trust in another person to respect your wishes and I liked how STIR ME UP really highlighted that.
The development of Cami and Julian’s relationship was really cute and I liked their chemistry. Julian was an interesting character, going from a high-flying Marine on the top of his game to traumatised ex-soldier with serious injuries and no idea how to come back from that. His journey was really compelling and I loved seeing him open up not just to Cami but his new life.
I can’t forget the biggest positive in this book: FOOD!! Do not read this book without plenty of snacks handy because Elkin’s strong suit is definitely her description of Cami’s creations in the kitchen. French cuisine never sounded so good and it was quite the insight into American cuisine and the use of potato chips in casseroles lol O_O
As for what I didn’t like: The writing was my biggest issue with this book. While I felt like Elkin’s got her story across adequately enough to be enjoyable, the language and writing left me perplexed at times. The dialogue was awkward and stilted and the POV didn’t always flow very well. Many of the characters seemed “paper thin” (pardon the pun) and could have used a lot more characterisation and development. There was a lot of use of stereotypes and it came across lazy and clumsy. The story jumped from scene to scene with no transition and there would be time jumps of weeks with no real explanation. There were moments where I felt like this book had been translated weakly from another language and there was a little too much telling rather than showing. I think another pass at the editing would have done wonders for this book and really let the story shine and it’s a real shame because I believe this could have been great.
Overall STIR ME UP is a sweet, light story; perfect for a Sunday afternoon quick read but ultimately it suffers from lazy editing. Just okay.