Warning: If you haven’t read “Bad Influence” by Stefanie London, don’t read this book review unless you don’t mind spoilers!
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m looking at “Bad Influence” by Stefanie London! I’ve read the first two books, “Bad Bachelor” and “Bad Reputation,” and now I’m interested in reading this third book in the trilogy so here we go! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Annie Maxwell had her whole life figured out…until her fiance left her when his career took off. If that wasn’t bad enough, every society blog posted pictures of him escorting a woman wearing her wedding ring. To help the women of New York avoid men like her ex, she created the Bad Bachelors app. But try as she might, Annie just can’t forget him…
Outside his stellar career, CEO Joe Preston has made a lot of mistakes. None was worse than leaving the love of his life when she needed him most. Now, he’s ready for a second chance. He may still be one heck of a bad influence, but when Annie’s safety is threatened by a hacker, Joe is the only one who can save her–and he’ll do whatever it takes to win her back. But will their hard-won bond survive the revelation that Annie is the one pulling the strings behind Bad Bachelors?”
Character development: 2 out of 5 stars
Romance development: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Despite what the summary implies about Joseph being fully at fault for why he and Annie’s relationship didn’t work out in the past, the book reveals that it’s the fault of both partners (though technically it’s more Annie’s fault than Joseph). Yes, Joseph moved on far too quickly post-breaking up with Annie and chose to go with his career, but Annie should have sat down and talked with Joseph first about her mother being sick and her not going to Singapore with him instead of deciding for both of them that she wasn’t going to go to Singapore. They could have figured out a long-distance relationship, or tried talking things out a bit more before Annie straight-up made the decision to stay while Joseph went to Singapore, and maybe Annie could’ve flown out to join him once her mom got better. Or, alternatively, Joseph could’ve flown Annie out to Singapore while she stayed behind most of the time for her mom. Whatever happened, this could have worked out far better if they had better open and honest communication (especially if they’ve been dating for several years prior to their breakup, and some of Joseph’s dialogue implies that Annie is not very good at being open and honest with him as well in the past).
Unfortunately, their communication issues do not get a lot better when they do get back together. They barely handle each other civilly (getting into a fight about Annie pushing Joseph into the pond when they first meet again for example) at first, and then they start randomly making out only a few chapters after their reunion. Both of them do realize the error of their ways and reconcile at the end of the book, but the ‘second chance’ romance wasn’t convincing enough to me to think that either of them should be in a relationship with each other, or with any other loved ones (such as in Joseph’s case when his new fiancé broke up with him over not being able to forget Annie and move on).
In terms of their character development individually, I felt some sympathy for Joseph regarding both his struggling romance with Annie, as well as his dysfunctional family. However, I felt that he didn’t really change or develop all that much other than realize the error of his ways in the end. The same goes with Annie; I sympathized with her being in pain after the breakup, but given her past behaviour in the first two “Bad Bachelor” books, as well as her not changing all that much other than her realizing the error of her ways in the end, I didn’t really feel like she changed all that much. Probably doesn’t help that she was more at fault for her and Joseph’s relationship ending in the first place, either.
Plot development: 1 out of 5 stars
Overall, the plot was slow—arguably even slower than the past two books. I appreciate the prologue at the beginning for setting up the reasons behind why Annie and Joseph broke up, but the rest of the plot dragged on right up until the end. I also felt that there was one plot point that should have been addressed: Annie should have gotten police involved immediately when she knew she was being stalked. WHY DID SHE NOT DO THIS? I understand her need to keep anonymity as the creator behind the “Bad Bachelors” app, but I’m pretty sure her personal safety should have been first priority. Why did absolutely NO ONE tell her to get police involved in such a situation? That part of the plot just doesn’t make sense overall.