Review: Chaos and Control – Season Vining
by Season Vining
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Publication Date: December 11, 2017
When Wren Hart returns to her sleepy little Midwest town after years on the road, she finds the last thing she’d ever expect—a reason to stay. And that reason has a hard body, a knowledge of vinyl, and a crooked smile that sends her reeling.
Preston is a gorgeous, mysterious man, whose life is ruled by routine and order. Yet somehow, he finds Wren and her wild ways captivating. While their relationship grows in a delicate dance of chaos and control, the danger Wren thought she'd left behind during her travels is inching ever closer…and just may destroy them both.
I love the “opposites attract” trope, and this book was a fresh take on it. Wren is a flighty and free-spirited whirlwind, while Preston, who has OCD, is ruled by routine.
Maybe we’re too different to be together— polar opposites attracted like magnets. He is an anchor to this place, weighing me down with his perfect words and praising lips. We want contradictory lives. I need change and adventure. He thrives on routine and order. He seems happy to make furniture, eat at the diner, and live out the rest of his days in this town. Just the idea of that feels suffocating.
At the beginning of the book, I found it hard to like Wren. She’s a bit of a bull in a china shop, popping back into her sister Bennie’s life after years away with no communication except for scattered postcards. Wren’s selfishness and brattiness, and her insistence on honesty for everyone but herself, was grating. But as she settled into life in her hometown, and into her relationship with Preston, aspects of her character development endeared her to me. I loved that Wren accepted Preston’s quirks without judgement, and didn’t try to fix him, though she did push his boundaries. Without that aspect of her relationship with Preston, I would have thought a lot more poorly of Wren.
I also loved Wren’s relationship with Bennie. I was especially pleased to see how close they were even though their age difference was in decades instead of years. In some ways, it did feel like Bennie was Wren’s surrogate mother – in the book, there’s even a description of a photo where their mom is holding her Bible and Bennie is holding Wren. It was good to see Wren mature and realize how special her relationship with Bennie was.
I have a particular soft spot for neurodivergent heroes, and Preston was just so sweet. While this is written in first person present tense from Wren’s point of view, each chapter ends with one of Preston’s freeform poems. I am not a poetry girl, but I found this a surprisingly insightful way to get inside Preston’s head. Preston also has a delightfully dirty side!
“You’re so scared of missing out on adventure, that you’re ignoring the one right here in front of you.”
The romance had a lovely slow build, culminating in the particularly sexy use of a nail gun. The flirting was super hot and quite humorous at times. I loved the give-and-take of their relationship – Preston going outside of his usual routine, and Wren accepting not shaking things up like a snow globe just for the sake of change. In the end, they compliment each other, each being a settling influence on the other.
Overall, this was a fun ride! Definitely recommend for fans of the opposites attract trope, small-town romances, or neurodivergent heroes!