Dirty Thoughts is the first book in Megan Erickson's new Mechanics of Love series, which is a spin-off of her Bowler University series. Though the Bowler University books are NA, the Mechanics of Love series is a Contemporary series with each book being a standalone. You do not need to have read those books first in order to understand this series, but that is where the Payton brothers are first introduced.
Cal Payton and Jenna Macmillan love each other through high school and had their lives planned together, until one incident ruined everything for them. But when Jenna walks in to Cal's garage years later looking better than ever, Cal and Jenna are suddenly forced to face everything that they left behind. Though Cal and Jenna still feel the pull to one another and are more attracted to each other than ever, the differences that once separated them are still there. Cal has no intention of letting Jenna in again, but finds it harder and harder to stay away from her since she is back in town for good. Can Cal and Jenna have a second chance at love together, or will they find that their relationship is best left in the past.
Cal made it really hard for me to like him in this book, and I think that was a lot of my problem here. Cal was so hot and cold, and fully intent on pushing Jenna away until about 70% through the book. I don't typically mind a grumpy hero, because usually they start to soften a bit with the love of their heroine. But Cal drove me absolutely nuts, and couldn't seem to make up his mind. Jenna wasn't a bad heroine, but I did think that she put up with far too much as well. She had let her family push her around, and she let Cal continue to treat her the way he did and she never really stood up for herself. It got old, and it made it hard to really like her either. So while these two had clear chemistry and a history, I never really felt much of a connection between them.
My other big issue besides Cal and Jenna, was the fact that this story seemed to be more about Cal and his family than anything else. Because it focused so much on them, there wasn't much development between Cal and Jenna beyond his constant pushing her away. I did enjoy his family and seeing them together, but I wanted more about Cal and Jenna and seeing how they would move forward after everything that happened. This book seemed to be similar to other books I have read in the genre, with not much new or different here. It was frustrating and I found myself skimming because I didn't really care about the characters at that point. This isn't the first book that I have read from Megan Erickson, but it seems that there is something about her books that just doesn't typically work for me. While I think others might enjoy this book, I think her style might just be one that isn't for me.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**