Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perfect Chemistry trilogy by Simone Elkeles

Book One - Perfect Chemistry

“A modern tale of star-crossed lovers, with a fresh urban twist.”

Everyone believes that everything about Brittany Ellis’ life is perfect but her. She works hard to keep up the charade because her parents have taught her that “outward appearances mean everything/” Her mother’s anxiety isn’t easily controlled and her father goes to work early and stays late so that he doesn’t have to deal. Only her best friend Sierra knows about her seriously disabled older sister Shelley. She wants everything about her first day of senior year to be perfect since she hasn’t seen her boyfriend of two years, Colin, all summer.
Alex Fuentes could be the first member of his family to graduate from high school if he passes his senior year at Fairfield. The eldest of three boys, his mother works at the neighborhood grocery store to support the family in the wake of their father’s death due to gang violence. Even though he is smart, for Alex, college is a dream. Caught up in the life of the Latino Blood gang, there is no way out for him and would die before he would let his brothers make the same mistake. He has a rough reputation and history defines who he is.
For both Brittany and Alex, the first day of school begins with a slight altercation in the parking lot. Brittany, driving her new car, almost hits Alex’s motorcycle when she attempted to park in the space he was already in. Brittany and Sierra literally fear for their lives trying to back out of the space. They are able to find a space on the other side of the lot and head to class. They find Alex and his gang blocking their way into the front doors. He attempts to intimidate Brittany but she stands up to his bullying and mouths off to him. Sierra asks Brittany if she has a death wish.
From opposite sides of town, Brittany and Alex would normally never cross paths. Their worlds collide during Mrs. Peterson’s sixth period senior chemistry class. A hard-nosed teacher, Mrs. Peterson assigns lab partners alphabetically. Instead of being partnered with her boyfriend Colin Adams, Brittany Ellis finds herself with Alex Fuentes. The barbs and insults start immediately. Neither is happy to learn they will have to partner on a joint project.
When one of Alex’s friends proposes a bet that he cannot have sex with the perfect Brittany Ellis before thanksgiving, he takes it. There isn’t a better way to get back at Brittany and Colin than taking her reputation to the toilet and being chem. Partners is the perfect place to start. For Brittany Ellis is very beautiful, very rich and very white while Alex Fuentes is the opposite; very poor, very Mexican and leads a very dark life. At Fairfield high, where you live is what matters and opposites are about to collide.
Forced to work as chemistry partners, it isn’t too long before Alex realizes that he underestimated Brittany and she him. Soon the heat is ratchet up between them and the sparks begin to fly. Will Brittany and Alex ever be able to break down one another’s walls or will they ultimately decide it isn’t worth the trouble?

Book Two - Rules of Attraction

“If you loved Alex Fuentes, wait until you meet his brother Carlos …”
It has been two years since the events in Perfect Chemistry. Mrs. Fuentes and her two younger sons, Carlos and Luis, have been living and eking out a living in Mexico. Carlos unfortunately has fallen victim to the local gang and Alex is bringing him back to the United States to make a fresh start. Bitter with a chip on his shoulder, Carlos thinks his older brother has left behind his Mexican heritage and is trying to live his life as a white man. Carlos believes that the gang life, not the college life is for him. Rebelling against Alex is the only way to strike back.Kiara Westford has worked with her speech therapist all summer to stop her issue with stuttering.

She is excited to start the school year but her boyfriend dumps her via a text message. Lamenting to her best friend tuck, Kiara is determined to have a great year. Remembering she needs to go to the auto body shop to pick up a radio for the vintage car she is trying to restore, she heads out to meet Alex Fuentes. One of her father’s former students, Alex has been helping her find the parts she needs. When Alex inquires if she could help show Carlos around Flatiron High, Kiara immediately offers to be his peer guide. Alex attempts to warn her about Carlos’ attitude but she quips that she loves a challenge.

Carlos and Kiara are soon like oil and water. He finds that he loves to give her a hard time and soon realizes that she is up to the challenge. Things change when the police bring the drug dogs to search the high school and drugs are found in Carlos’ locker. He insists that they aren’t his but even Alex is skeptical. When the judge discovers that Carlos live with Alex in subsidized housing, they are given two choices. Carlos can be deported back to Mexico even though he is a US citizen or he can live with the Westford family. Alex is desperate to keep Carlos in the US and the Westford family all agree that Carlos can live with them.

It’s not long before Carlos finds himself not only under the spell of Kiara, but the entire Westford family as well. As he figures out who set him up with the drugs and why, Carlos realizes that he will not be able to just walk away from the gang life as he hoped. But when it comes to the middle Fuentes brother, he would willingly lay down his life for the girl and her family that he loves. Can Carlos leave the gang life behind and make a life for himself? Is Carlos a challenge that Kiara and the Westford family are willing to take on? And what happens when Carlos and Kiara realize what the rules of attraction are?

Book Three - Chain Reaction

“The youngest Fuentes brother will risk everything to protect his family.”
Luis Fuentes is known as “the good kid” I his family. The youngest of three boys, he has watched his two older brothers get into some serious gang-related trouble while in high school. Luis dreams of going to college to study aeronautics. What Luis portrays to his family on the outside is not the Luis his friends know on the inside. An adrenaline junkie, he craves the rush taking a risk gives him, whether it be snowboarding or rock climbing. After being bitten by a snake while climbing, Luis comes close to losing his life and unfortunately his family discovers his reckless side Alex admonishes him for risking his life two weeks before his wedding.

Two weeks later, the Fuentes family is gathered outside of Chicago for Alex’s big day. Luis offers to go inside to get something that Alex forgot. He stumbles upon a girl about his age (fifteen) on a cell phone in his brother’s dressing room. Looking Mexican, Luis begins speaking to her Spanish, she snaps and says that they are not in Mexico and she is an American. Luis knows that the fire in her means she has some Mexican blood in her. He tries to flirt and she shoots him down. Mrs. Fuentes comes in and demands to know who she is. Nikki Cruz, she tells them. Her father was Alex’s surgeon and they have kept in touch over the years.

Nikki, who just completed her freshman year of high school, was recently dumped by her boyfriend, Marco Delgado. Marco is going the Latino Blood gang. She is devastated since they lost their virginity to one another and now she is pregnant. Terrified and unable to tell her parents who disapproved of Marco, Luis Fuentes has her unnerved. He reminds her of Marco physically and is a bit conceited. She definitely sees a ladies’ man and knows all too well that men lie. After being forced by her parents to dance with Luis, Nikki ends up kneeing him in the groin. She is pushed by her mother to apologize but finds Luis skinny dipping with a girl. She hides his clothes as payback and leaves. Nikki gets sick at home and her parents discover she is pregnant. She has suffered an ectopic pregnancy and loses her baby.

Two Years Later
Luis and his mother leave Colorado and return to Fairfield, Ill. To be near family, they move back to their former house to find that it and the neighborhood have drastically changed. A star student and athlete at Flatiron High, it doesn’t take Luis long to fit in again with his old friends from the south side. He is at his locker with Marco on the first day when he and Nikki first spot one another. Marco tells Luis that Nikki is bad news and to stay away. She is from the north side of town and there are plenty of Latina girls in the south. By the end of the day, both are in Mrs. Peterson’s chemistry class and have detention. Luis notices that Nikki is having difficulty with her math homework and offers to be her tutor. She states that she doesn’t hang around south side boys any more.

Luis makes the soccer team and quickly strikes up a friendship with Derek, the boyfriend of Nikki’s best friend. Derek and Kendall are having a few problems and he thinks if Nikki had a boyfriend, things would be better. Derek says he will arrange a blind double date and Luis agrees. Soon he spots Nikki’s younger brother Ben and strikes up a conversation. Before long, Ben invites Luis back to the Cruz house to play the computer game he is creating. Nikki is upset that Ben brought Luis home and Luis attempts to smooth over the negative feelings between the two of them. Luis says they need to kiss to see if there is any chemistry between them. Nikki takes the lead and Luis knows she is messing with him. It doesn’t take long before she loses control but tries to play it off. Luis Fuentes is quickly getting under her skin and he seems to realize it.

The blind double date turns out better than Nikki would have thought possible but she won’t admit it. After soccer practice one day, Marco invites Luis to a beach party. Luis is surprised to see it is taking place at an old Latino Blood spot. Trying to get his mind off of Nikki, Luis is stunned to see Chuy Soto, the head of the Latino Bloods, has gotten out of prison. Chuy is determined that Luis will join the gang family.

Will Luis be able to resist joining up with the Latino Bloods? Can he keep his dreams of going to college alive? Will Nikki be able to put aside her distrust of boys to open up her heart to love? And will she be able to admit her feelings for Luis?

Each book in the Perfect Chemistry series focuses on each of the Fuentes Brothers and is told in alternating viewpoints between the brother and the girl he loves. In book two, Alex is a minor character and we see how his life progresses. Just like in book three, continuing details are given about both Alex and Carlos.

Visit Simone Elkeles’ website.
Visit the Perfect Chemistry website.
Check out the Perfect Chemistry Novels Facebook page.

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