The power of love in “Rules of Attraction”

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles is one of my favourite young adult romance novels. It’s a story made beautiful by the love affair, riveting by the plot, hilarious by the characters, and by all accounts, unforgettable. This second novel in Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry trilogy gives us everything we could want: a love that consumes us, passion, adventure and even a little danger. It has us hanging on to the edge of our seats, as we find ourselves rooting for a love story we never  would have predicted or thought would have existed.

Carlos Fuentes doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path-just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren’t easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He’s even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor’s daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he’s usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he’s shocked to discover that it’s this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he’s never even dreamed possible?

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When I first read this book last year it was, truthfully, one of those rare times when I actually questioned if it was possible to fall in love with fictional characters. I was completely swept up in Carlos and this love story, it was like I was being pulled by a current – I was consumed by it. Back then, this was the type of guy I would have been attracted to. The guy with the ‘bad boy’ persona that you like when you know you shouldn’t. There was always something about these stories that I loved when you see the guy lose the bad boy act when he finds someone worth being good for (even if he still keeps a bit of the cheeky attitude).

Out of the three novels in the trilogy (see my previous post on the first novel, Perfect Chemistry, here) Rules of Attraction is by far my favourite. Honestly, the thing I love so much about it is the deeper meaning that I feel is plotted through the story.

There are loads of messages in this book that I think are important to mention, like the idea that some people are worth second chances; that there are no “rules” of attraction (hence the title); and that sometimes the best things in life are found in the most unexpected places. However, the most prominent one that I, personally, took away after reading Rules of Attraction is that love changes us.

The thing is, at the start of the novel Kiara was a quiet girl, the typical smart girl in school, who doesn’t believe that anyone would choose her over the pretty popular girl.Carlos was the bad boy who never thought he wanted to be good and by the end, it’s not just that she makes him a better person. She does, but, he he changes her, too. Carlos challenges her, surprises her. He makes her question her life, beliefs. Carlos is either the best thing for her or the worst.

“Nobody in their right mind chooses Kiara Westford over me.”
She’s right. We’re busted.
“Wanna bet?” My eyes go wide when Carlos bends his head down to me. “Kiss me, cariño.”
— Simone Elkeles, Rules of Attraction

Carlos shows her that to him she is better than any other popular, pretty, perfect looking girl he’s ever met.s. And Kiara shows him that he is worthy pf the future he never imagined he could have, and she makes him a better man.

“Just so you know, I’m goin’ to enlist.”
“I’m proud of you. But why?”
I groan against the pain but manage to give him a half smile. “I want to make sure Kiara’s got a boyfriend who has more to offer than a hot bod and a face that could make angels weep.”
— Simone Elkeles, Rules of Attraction

Even more than that, Carlos makes her brave and courageous. Kiara makes him fall in love, and believe in the impossible.

“You’re dangerous,” he says.
“Why?”
“Because you make me believe in the impossible.”
— Simone Elkeles, Rules of Attraction

Sometimes, falling in love with the right person changes us into the people we’ve always wanted to be.

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