Magic Hands by Jennifer Laurens
Release Date: Feb. 2007
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Cort, a popular, cute jock, has everything but a job; something that he desperately needs. The normal hot spots are already overrun with kids and the outlook is pretty bleak. In fact, it’s so bad that the only job he can get is at Miss Chicha’s Nail Salon. Needing money, he puts aside his pride and learns how to do girl’s nails. At first, it seems as if his new job may slide beneath the school’s radar, but when some girls from school find out it’s all over. Soon, his days are booked with endless appointments and he’s quickly learning an important lesson: girls can be catty, gossips, and cruel. But there’s one girl, Rachel, that he still has hope for. She may be elusive, but she’s intelligent, beautiful, and Colt’s dream girl. The only problem is that he has to prove to her that there’s more to him than being a good looking jock. Can Colt win her over or will she always remain just out of his reach?
The Short of It: I kind of went into this one not expecting much and came out being pleasantly surprised. There are some general editing and narrative issue and some cliquish moments, but overall it was a solid read.
Plot: The plot is what really drew me to this book. I mean, c’mon, a boy working in a nail shop?! How could you not be interested in that? Of course, what I got was not exactly what I was expecting. I figured he may do the prep work or paint a few nails, but I NEVER imagine he would actually do the nails. But maybe that was because I knew you needed training to actually do nails. (Sorry tiny spoiler-but common sense right?) The miles of miles of girls that come to have their nails done after he’s discovered seems rather accurate at first glance. The only thing that nags me is do that many high school girls really get their nails done and would older women really care? Ok, maybe the cute guy has something to do with it, but it was stated several times that the clients only really ever wanted Cort. I can understand that if you’re a high school girl (cute, popular guy + doing nails + hand massages = girl heaven) but would the older women really care? I guess some may like to be fawn over by a cute guy, but if it were me I would totally just take whoever was available. I mean, really, are you seriously going to wait hours just to have some boy do your nails? Other than that, the plot really rang true on the realistic front.
Characters: Colt and Rachel were both great characters. They both had they’re flaws, but overall they were enjoyable characters. Colt was your All-American boy; the popular jock with enough intelligence, kindness and charm to make everyone like him. I also liked that he was a hard-worker. He could have easily walked away from the nail gig at anytime, but he kept with it no matter how tiring it could be. I’m sure part of this had to do with the big tips, but he still took the time to learn how to do everything properly. The only thing I didn’t like about him is that he seemed to be a bit of a push-over. Perhaps this went with the nice-guy routine, but it felt like he was being taken advantage of/rolled over, especially when it came to Bree, Rachel, and Miss Chachi.
Rachel, on the other hand, was a bit harder to like. I did end up liking her, but it took much longer. There were times she was so aloof and a little snobbish that it drove me crazy. She kind of had this superior “I’m better than you” attitude for most of the book. Even worse, there was no justification to the attitude. I think Rachel was trying to be mysterious and hard to get, but it’s not how it really came off. However, once she opened up and stopped hiding herself she was a wonderful character. I really enjoyed her job and the easy repertoire and friendship she developed with the elderly.
Romance: I would have enjoyed the romance a lot more if it had been played out a bit differently. Rachel’s hard to get attitude really affected the relationship. What bothers me the most is that she really does like him. The first page talks about how he’s great eye-candy; the only problem is he’s a jock. An irrational hate that I really don’t understand. I know the stereotype is that all jocks are jerks, but Colt proved rather quickly that he wasn’t. And every time she let him near, she would push him away without any warning. It was one-step forward, two-steps back the whole way with her. If there had been a reason for her mistrust/aloofness I might have been okay with it, but I don’t think one bad experience with a crush when she was young was enough. I felt like there should have been a pile of them to make her that leery of guys.
Colt, however, was kind of cute. He was a little crazy for continuing to go after Rachel despite all her mixed signals, but it made him more likable. I have to give him kudos for going to the lengths to prove that he wasn’t some egotistical jock and that he really did like her. In fact, I’m a little surprised that he stayed around for all her head games, but I guess the chase makes the catch more valuable? Ok, so maybe he’s a little too good to believe as a high school boy, but I did enjoy the fact that he took note of what was important to her and tied them into his own. All in all, once Rachel opened up they really did make an adorable couple.
Writing: Ok, this is where my biggest complaint lies. There were some minor editing errors that I could overlook, but the switching point of views drove me batty. Without any warning, Laurens would change from Rachel to Colt or vice versa. And I’m not talking like one chapter Colt, one chapter Rachel, I’m talking in the middle of the scene. Like they could be sitting in class, Colt could think or say something and suddenly you’re in Rachel’s mind hearing what she thought. I will admit that it was nice to hear both of their thoughts, but Laurens needed to figure out a smoother way to do it. The instant switching was much too jarring for me and drew me out of the story way more than I would have liked.
Librarian-Mode: I would easily recommend this one to my realistic, romance lovers. Those who love a good cat-and-mouse game will eat this one up. If I’m picking read-a-likes I would most likely place this one with Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott (ala Bloom/Perfect You). I will also be honest in that my library does not currently own this book, but I am going to look into order it. (Well, providing it has the new cover. Old cover is HORRIBLE and almost made me send it back!)