Book Review / Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy | Good Girl Complex (Avalon Bay #1)

The Book: 

Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
Published February 1st 2022 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Date read: February 2, 2022

The Characters: 


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.

The Review: 

This was my first Elle Kennedy book, and I certainly enjoyed her writing style. Mac and Cooper were both well-written characters with awesome banter. 

The audiobook was excellent. Joe Arden and Ava Erickson were both new-to-me narrators as far as I know, but I will certainly be watching out for other productions by them in the future. The narration was smooth and clear, and I was able to speed up the audio significantly.

Minor spoilers to follow: read if you aren’t a fan of cheating/love triangles, but if you’re okay with those tropes and want to be surprised, don’t read any further!
I’ve never been a fan of the cheating/love triangle trope. How hard is it to break up with your partner before hooking up with the next guy?? I really don’t get it. The author easily made Preston the bad guy by telling us he’s running around on Mac, but she is no better than he is! I would have completely loved her if she had just broken up with Preston first. I hated that all her friends–both the catty ones and the nice ones–encouraged her to cheat, that it’s “normal” and “what everyone does”. This just is not something I would want young adults reading and thinking is okay!

Cooper and his friends were pretty awful, too. I guess I understand the dare to steal Preston’s girlfriend–it’s just kids messing around, and Preston was definitely a jerk. But the way they all bold-faced lied to Mac when she directly asked was totally icky.

I don’t think I’ve read a lot of “new adult” books, but another gripe I had with Good Girl Complex was how this poor 20-year-old was so focused on marriage and the long term. Girl, slow down and enjoy your 20s! Build your businesses without these dudes in your way! I’m actually not sure how old Cooper was supposed to be, but he seemed older than 20. The same goes for him! I guess it’s hard to believe in a happily ever after when the characters are so young. Odds are it’s happily-for-a-few-years, not “ever after”.

Overall, this book was well written and I would happily read another by this author in a different trope. Everything I didn’t like about it came from my own theme preferences, so fans of these tropes will likely enjoy Good Girl Complex a lot more!

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