Author J. Lynn (Otherwise known as Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Published July 15th, 2013 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Pages 240 Pages
Intended Target Audience New Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Part of a Series? Yes (Book 1 in the Frigid series)
Source & Format Purchased from Amazon.com, eBook
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.
Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.
But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.
“No one could replace me in his life, I knew that. I was the friend who knew everything about him and whom he trusted above everyone else.
I was Kyler’s best friend.
And because of that, he would never love me the way I loved him.”
Sydney Bell has been in love with her best friend, Kyler Quinn, for as long as she can remember. Having grown up together as children, Sydney feels required to keep her feelings a secret so as not to risk a friendship that has come to mean everything to her. Unable to confess her true feelings, over the years Sydney has been forced to watch as Kyler entertained a revolving door of women, seemingly oblivious to her feelings for him. What Sydney doesn’t know is that Kyler feels the same way. Having placed Sydney on a pedestal the likes of which no-one can overcome, Kyler feels inadequate and undeserving of Sydney’s love. The novel begins as the two are preparing to embark on their annual trip to Snowshoe Mountain to stay at the Quinn’s ski lodge with a group of friends. What Sydney and Kyler never bargained for, however, was the sudden snowstorm that leaves them isolated and stranded with only basic necessities and each other to rely on. As the temperature outside continues to drop, the situation between the two begins to heat up as Sydney proposes a rather unusual arrangement that will test the strength of their relationship and force them to confront their long-dormant feelings for one another, all while fending off the nefarious activities of someone who seems intent on hurting them.
“Sydney Bell had always been, and would always be, a few pedestals too high for me.”
Despite my rather lackluster feelings for J. Lynn’s previous foray into the ‘New Adult’ genre, Wait For You, I had been looking forward to the release of Frigid for some time, even going so far as to pre-order it on Kindle. Boy, was that a mistake! While I was initially drawn in by the ‘friends-to-lovers’ trope, which I’ve always enjoyed in the past, I should have paid more attention to the book’s synopsis, more specifically to the use of the word ‘man-whore’ when describing the love interest. And while Kyler’s character and behaviour certainly detracted from my overall enjoyment of this story, unfortunately my problems with Frigid didn’t begin and end there. Between the insufferable, stereotypical characters, predictable plot, contrived conflict and irritating romance devoid of any discernible chemistry and replete with infantilization, Frigid failed on nearly every level for me. While I’ve never had an issue with Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Young Adult titles, I can safely say this will mark the last time I read any of her contributions to the ‘New Adult’ genre. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
“I wasn’t sure what that said about me – that I could love someone so much I’d accept whatever scrap they tossed my way. It wasn’t right. It was the epitome of weak.”
I love it when a novel does my job for me. Sydney Bell was one of the most intolerable, exasperating protagonists I’ve read about in recent memory. I rarely use these terms to describe a protagonist, but she was an utterly weak, pathetic character. Despite being twenty-one years of age, Sydney acted like a child the majority of the time. When she isn’t actually crying, Sydney’s perpetually on the verge of tears. The real mystery of Frigid is not who’s sabotaging elements of the cabin, but rather how Sydney manages to avoid becoming extremely dehydrated given all the bodily fluids she’s constantly expelling. This was further accentuated by Kyler’s constant use of the term ‘Baby’ in reference to her, which seemed less like a term of endearment and more an assessment of her emotional maturity.
“We walk – or shuffled along – about a yard and then I walked straight into a mailbox. I grunted. “Son of a bitch jumped right out in front of me!”
Kyler stopped, shaking his head. “You are a hazard to yourself right now.”
“I’m fine.” I waved him off, edging around the tricky inanimate object as I shot it a dark look. “I’m watching you.”
Also, I hope you’re not tired of the excessively clumsy protagonist cliché, whose lack of coordination and basic motor skills you’re meant to find endearing rather than patently ridiculous! You thought Bella Swan was bad? Prepare to feast your eyes on the walking safety hazard that is Sydney Bell, who’s unable to shower or walk in a straight line without endangering herself or the lives of those around her. I’ll just say this: If your main character is unable to exit a vehicle without assistance, I suggest we place her within the safe confines of a plastic bubble and save everyone a lot of time and trouble. All joking aside, the primary problem with Sydney is that she’s almost an entirely reactionary character. She never drives the plot forward, but rather reacts to those around her, namely Kyler. She allows him to dictate her behaviour and refuses to speak up for herself simply to avoid an argument. Who needs personal freedom or choice, right? She lacked one ounce of personality and was drawn in the same vein as the countless ‘New Adult’ protagonists that have come before her.
“Yeah, she had me. I was all hers.
In reality, even though I’d been with everyone else, I’d always been Syd’s.”
Because nothing says ‘I love you’ like sleeping with everyone but the object of your affections. I am so tired of this sort of skewed reasoning. Here’s a novel concept: If you like someone, then tell them! Contrived conflict and plot conveniences aside, Kyler Quinn embodies everything I dislike in a potential love interest. A promiscuous womanizer who treats women like disposable playthings and blames his behaviour on his penis? Check. An overbearing male whose romantic interest is demonstrated through his overwhelming jealousy and desire to control every aspect of his intended’s life? Check. I’m starting to worry that I’m becoming desensitized to this sort of character and am now unable to work up the appropriate level of outrage after encountering this sort of character one too many times. Despite the fact that he doesn’t feel ‘good enough’ for Sydney, Kyler still believes it’s his place to prevent her from speaking to other men and decides that she’s incapable of making such judgements herself. Romance! Listen, I love a strong Alpha hero as much as the next girl, but there’s some behaviour that is simply unacceptable, particularly when your novel is firmly set within the confines of a realistic, contemporary society. While this sort of overbearing, dominant behaviour might be a little more forgivable in an urban fantasy or paranormal romance novel where this can be excused as part of the ethos of your paranormal creature (i.e. vampire, werewolf, etc) in the real world this sort of behaviour is simply one of the warning signs of an impending abusive relationship.
“Sometimes I had no idea how I ended up in situations like this. Okay. That was a bald-faced lie. What was between my legs was how I ended up in situations like this.
But it was more than that.
It had always been more than that.”
While one could argue that Kyler compensates for his feelings of inadequacy by seeking companionship and comfort in anonymous sexual encounters, it’s difficult to sympathize with a character who’s able to identify a problem but does absolutely nothing to remedy it. At some point you have to take some personal responsibility. He bemoans the fact that he’s unworthy of Sydney’s love, feelings which stem primarily from his promiscuity, and yet he does nothing to change his behaviour. I also failed to understand why Kyler felt inadequate in the first place. While there’s mention of his insecurities regarding his upbringing in a trailer park, it’s quite clear that he has a positive relationship with his mother and that the two now live in relative luxury after the success of her design business. For that matter, what makes Sydney so ‘perfect’ and unattainable? Kyler is constantly telling us that he isn’t good enough for her and that she’s perfection personified, but we’re never told why. But hell, why give your characters proper motivation or depth when you can simply tell the audience how they should feel and what they should believe without any discernible proof?
“Kyler drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, a sure sign he was close to losing his patience. “Sometimes, I don’t even know how we’re friends,” he said, running one hand over his head. “Honestly, I don’t.”
Tears sprang to my eyes, and I quickly turned my attention to the side window. Pressure clamped down on my chest, a powerful ache that made it hard to breathe. We really were the lion and the gimpy gazelle.
“Me, neither,” I whispered.”
Well, that makes three of us, then. Although the majority of the novel is spent convincing us about the depth of feeling the one has for the other, I was never convinced that Sydney and Kyler were in love, particularly because there were moments during the novel when they didn’t even seem to like or respect one another. They seem to have a complete disregard for the other’s feelings and although we’re told that they have loved one another since childhood, I was never sure why this was. Apart from a basic physical attraction, Sydney largely disapproves of Kyler’s behaviour, and Kyler seemed to view Sydney more as an adorable pet than as a respected equal. The two become embroiled in a seemingly endless series of arguments based on a fundamental lack of communication, and because this novel is told through a dual perspective, we’re often forced to hear about these issues of miscommunication twice in excruciating, frustrating detail.
“Instead he was staring at me like he was seconds away from getting up and storming across the bar and telling me I was up past my bedtime.
He wouldn’t dare.
Kyler’s eyes narrowed.
A couple of months ago, while out celebrating my birthday and during one of the very rare times I did drink, he’d made me go home before I even got to the second Sex on the Beach, citing something along the lines that the crowd at the club was getting too rowdy.”
This brings me to the biggest problem I had with this novel – The dynamic between Sydney and Kyler. I don’t find infantilization remotely sexy, so the manner in which Kyler treated Sydney was an immediate turn-off. You know what is sexy? A character that treats his or her romantic interest like a respected equal and not like a mentally deficient, incapable child. I shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable about the dynamic between the two romantic leads or question whether the male is auditioning for the role of the protagonist’s boyfriend or father. At one point Sydney proposes that the two participate in a purely sexual relationship, not unlike that which Kyler has engaged in with other women countless times before. Kyler turns her down, telling her that she’s ‘too good’ for that sort of arrangement. Not only is it insulting that he feels he has the right to decide what is ‘best’ for Sydney without consulting her, I also hate the implication that women engaged in a satisfying sexual relationship with little to no emotional connection are somehow lesser than. It’s funny how this didn’t seem to bother him when he was sleeping with other women interested in this sort of relationship!
“An arm snaked around my waist, pulling me to a stop. For the first time in my life I was literally stuck between two boys. Huh. And here I thought it would be more fun than this.”
While I have absolutely no intention of painting an entire genre with a bad brush simply because of a few disappointing or negative experiences, J. Lynn’s Frigid epitomizes everything I dislike about the ‘New Adult’ genre. With a cast of unlikeable, stock characters, an abusive relationship masquerading as a ‘romance’, undertones of misogyny and sexism, and an unnecessary and predictable secondary ‘whodunnit’ storyline, Frigid was a woeful disappointment. While I expected a fun, relatively light-hearted romantic friends-to-lovers story about two people stranded together during a snowstorm, I’m sorry to say that this book left me as cold as the title suggests.
Around The Web
Still not sure this is the right book for you? Why not listen to what some other bloggers had to say about it?
● Jessica @ Lovin’ Los Libros wrote “Her writing pulls me in and leaves me breathless. And oh good Lord, this woman can write some steamy love scenes. This book completely worked for me because I loved the main characters, it had dual POV, and added in a bit of intrigue to the plot.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)
● Brooke @ The Cover Contessa wrote “And, despite the fact that I am not normally a contemporary reader, I just loved this one. I loved the characters, I loved the plot, I loved how the story moved along and I didn’t want to put it down.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)