Warning: This review contains spoilers for “Bad Reputation” by Stefanie London, but also contains some minor spoilers for “Bad Bachelors,” the book preceding this one. Don’t read this review if you want to avoid spoilers for either book!
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Bad Reputation” by Stefanie London! This is connected to her previous book, “Bad Bachelors,” and though you don’t have to read “Bad Bachelors” first to understand this one, it’s nice to do so to pick up on some continuity. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Wes Evans, son of Broadway royalty, just wants to achieve something without riding on his family’s coattails. Too bad the whole world is talking about his sex life after the notorious Bad Bachelors app dubs him “The Anaconda.” But when he sees a talented ballet dancer, he knows she is exactly what he needs to make his show a success.
Remi Drysdale only had one thought when she fled Australia for New York–never mix business with pleasure again. Ever. She gets the perfect chance to reclaim her career when a handsome stranger asks her to audition for his show. Remi promises herself not to tangle with the guy who holds her career in his hands…no matter how enticing his reviews are on the Bad Bachelors app…”
Worldbuilding Development: 4 out of 5 stars
It’s clear the research around how producing shows and ballet training was executed well into this book through Wes and Remi’s experiences, and the research overall that they show is a lot better than what they did in the previous book with our PR and librarian protagonists (with barely any library scenes or any showing of how libraries are useful in this day and age). However, I still would have liked to see more behind-the-scenes as of how Out of Bounds (Wes’ production) was made, as well as more of the concepts behind it. I know it’s inspired by Wes’ willingness to strike out on his own and deviate from normal standards, but what else is there to it? Is it purely a dance production (hence why Remi is the lead)? Are there musical numbers? I would’ve liked to know more about that.
We also, once again, get to see how the “Bad Bachelors” app works in action and how it affects the characters (Wes in particular, given how people now won’t stop talking about specific body parts of his as well as his sex life in general). We also see more of the criticisms of this app, but it does make me wonder if Annie (the creator behind the app, as revealed in last book) will have this backfire on her at any point. Apparently that will be the set up going into the third book, “Bad Influence,” which explores Annie herself and more of what drove her to start the app in the first place, so we’ll have to wait and see during that book.
Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars
Romance Development: 3 out of 5 stars
Our protagonists Wes and Remi are generally likeable; Wes moreso than Remi. Unlike Reed from “Bad Bachelor,” Wes is more hardworking, and much more upfront and honest about his intentions (though he does have an issue with some secret-keeping from Remi, which causes issues in their relationship late in the book). He has a great work ethic and I as a reader sympathized with him wanting to break away from his family and do his own thing, even if it gave him a lot of risk in the process.
As for Remi, I found her generally likeable overall, save for her tendency to run off in the middle of tough times (which impacts her and Wes’ relationship at the start and even throughout the relationship they develop). She clearly has the desire to have dancing as a career, despite the disaster her past relationship caused with it. I did understand her struggle with not wanting to mix business with pleasure, given how that was directly tied into how her past career and relationship ended badly, and I was glad to see her work through that struggle and not run away from wanting to pursue both in the end.
When it comes to the romance between Remi and Wes, I felt that their chemistry was better built compared to Darcy and Reed from the previous book, but I also felt that it was surprisingly quite slow in development (and almost too slow). The sexual attraction was there, and that was evident from start to finish, but the actual romantic attraction didn’t take much precedence until about a third through the book. Understandably, both Remi and Wes have their sideplot/character development reasons for why it takes them such a long while (Remi is slowly getting back into dance after a disastrous past relationship had her kicked out of the Australian ballet company, while Wes is struggling with his image and his Out of Bounds production being jeopardized by his unsupportive family and the “Bad Bachelor” app reviews), but I still think the relationship could use better pacing.
I felt that Lilah, one of the most antagonizing characters who’s close enough to be an antagonist (other than Wes’ mom) felt a bit flat in development. Granted, she’s a minor character, but I wish we had more depth into her other than acting as a rival to Remi.
Annie is also increasingly problematic in this book in terms of character development. I thought she may change a bit after the events of “Bad Bachelor,” given how she clearly knew how badly it affected Reed’s life at the time. Despite this, as well as Remi telling Annie how badly the app was affecting Wes this time around, Annie clearly thought her app was more important than her friendships, despite acknowledging that not all the reviews are well-intentioned. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects her next book in “Bad Influence,” given that “Bad Influence” is centered on Annie (not a spoiler, this is literally in the summary of “Bad Influence”).
Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I thought that the plot lagged a bit in the middle, but it started with good exposition on the characters’ situations and how they get together. Unfortunately, like the previous book “Bad Bachelors,” this plot also suffers from a too-fast ending. Granted, it’s a happily-ever-after ending and I am happy for Remi and Wes being together, as well as Wes’ show ultimately succeeding despite all the drama that happened in the book, but I felt that there were loose ends that weren’t tied—the tension between Remi and Annie over Annie being in charge of the “Bad Bachelors” app, for instance, as well as the drama that Lilah caused.