Review: Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid
If you're at all familiar with Penny Reid and her newsletters, you'd have been privy to the knowledge that each month, she's been publishing a chapter to her short story Nobody Looks Good In Leather Pants (NLGILP). It's been exciting, to say the least, to eagerly await news from The Evil Overlord ™, scroll down, and get the latest chapter in this story.
Well friends, this week NLGILP was released in full book format, retitled as Kissing Tolstoy. And it. Was. Fabulous!
Kissing Tolstoy is the first book in the Overlord's new Professor series. If you've been reading the newsletter chapters and have picked up the book copy, you'll notice there are a few more additions. Specifically a few chapters from Luca's POV! SQUEE! Also, if you grab a copy of the book, Reid includes the first chapter of the next book in the series, Nobody Looks Good Naked (working title). Which…I think she's going to release the next book the same way she released this one…via newsletter, one chapter per month, driving her readers insane since we can't binge through another of her books (this is why she's evil).
This book is about Anna I. Harris and Luca Kroft. Student and professor, respectively. After fleeing from an awkward blind date of mistaken identity (and the only man who looks good in leather pants), Anna forgets and moves on. That is until she walks into her Russian Lit class only to discover the ridiculously hot blind date is her professor. And suddenly the summer course looks a lot harder than she thought it'd be.
Anna is dismayed and horrified to learn whom her new professor is. But the longer she's in his class, the more she's drawn to his intelligence, charisma, and patience. And it's absolutely unfair how good he looks in leather pants and bowties (but not at the same time). Luca is enraptured by her passion and humor, much to his initial dismay. Anna is convinced that she is not Luca's “type of nice [girl]”, and he's convinced she is. This book was filled with awkward moments, intense debates about Russian literature, and lots and lots of pining. So much pining.
Now, let's also not forget the sexual tension because…wow! You could cut it with a knife. You know that scene in the new Pride and Prejudice movie where Elizabeth and Darcy are dancing, arguing (as per usual), and with a swell of music and spin, everything else has faded from notice. Elizabeth and Darcy are too wrapped up in their sexual tension to notice anyone else in the room. Remember this?
That is Luca and Anna. But in a classroom setting. There were strange, high-pitched noises emitting from my mouth during these parts. Equal part squee and OMG!
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about this book since it is dealing with a student/professor relationship. I get a little apprehensive about books where there is such an imbalance in power dynamic. However, I think Kissing Tolstoy did a fairly good job addressing that issue. It didn't make me want to scream at Luca that he's risking his career by pursuing Anna.
Anna and Luca are a fun new addition to the Reid Universe. They challenge each other, make each other laugh, and both are nerds for Russian lit. It was filled with witty one-liners that I've come to expect from Reid. No matter if Reid gives her readers a short story or a full-length book, she is able to spin wonderful stories that have me yearning for more. Kissing Tolstoy is no exception.
And he's still not my kind of nice. How do you know? Just look at his forearms!
Yes, I felt shabby and small, but that's okay. I was shabby and small. There's nothing wrong with being shabby and small. Hobbits are shabby and small and look how badass they are. Plus, second breakfast for the win.
“I want to know you, Anna. Let me know you.”
You straddle that bike, professor. You straddle it so hard.
It was very likely I would trade sexual favors for Luca reading to me in Russian. And I'd enjoy every minute of it.
If Russian literature and tragic novels had taught me one thing it was this: disappointment and heartache might be around the next corner. But adventure, love, joy, and happiness -the living of a rich, meaningful life-was now.