Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity...it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.
Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.
Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.
The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?
What I Liked:
This book was more enjoyable than I expected! Then again, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I remember trying Ashton's debut novel and not being able to get through it. I recently read My Lady Jane (co-written with two other authors) and liked it. I wanted to give Diplomatic Immunity a chance because it looked like cute contemporary and it was a standalone. I'm glad I gave this book a chance!
Piper Baird wants to be a journalist, and she's very good at being one. She has applied for a scholarship to the prestigious Chiswick Academy for the last three years. Finally, at the start of her senior year, she gets the scholarship. But Chiswick is completely different from her public high school. Chiswick is full of rich, privileged kids, children of international politicians and diplomats who have diplomatic immunity, a free pass to bad behavior. Piper really wants to win the Bennington scholarship offered by Chiswick, but the competition for the scholarship is fierce. She'll have to rite a juicy story that no one can write. But to do so, she'll have to hone in on one of the diplomatic immunity kids - Rafael Amador, the hot Spaniard who has a penchant for making mischief and trouble and being spontaneous. But there is more to Rafael than his bad boy status, and as Piper discovers this, she finds it harder and harder to publisher her scandalous story.
I totally felt for Piper, from start to finish. Her family is on the low end of middle class, and eventually, they reach the point of food stamps and bankruptcy. There was a time when they were richer... but that time was years ago. The only way Piper can follow her dreams of going to Columbia next year is to get a scholarship. The Bennington is a great scholarship, but she needs to get into Chiswick first. Piper is entirely focused on the Bennington (once she gets into Chiswick), and being a cutthroat journalist is exactly how she plans on winning the Bennington.
She doesn't plan on Rafael Amador though. On her first day at Chiswick, he saves her from an already embarrassing situation. Piper recognizes his insane hotness, but she also recognizes the massive amount of privilege he has. Diplomatic immunity covers his butt for everything - and Rafael takes advantage. There is nothing bad that he won't do - like climbing national monuments, or setting off the school's fire alarm to get out.
I personally thought Piper was justified in her disdain for all the rich, privileged students at the school. She definitely had some resentment for them at first, which I could relate to. But as she got to know more of them (especially Rafael), her attitude changed. She mostly hung out with other scholarship kids at Chiswick, but you could see her gradual change in attitude towards the diplomatic immunity kids.
Rafael... what a swoony dreamboat. Honestly he seemed a little too perfect, a little too bad-boy bad, but I really liked him. I've always liked Spaniard hotties, and it wasn't hard to fall for this particular one. He liked hearing Piper's opinion on the students at Chiswick, and how privileged he was. Rafael is totally unconcerned with rules and laws - or so it seems. But there is more to him, and I liked seeing behind the walls.
The romance in this book is fairly slow-burn, and all of the musy-gushy crush feelings come first. It's cute, watching Piper fall for Rafael. At first I thought Rafael was hanging around Piper because she was a challenge, but it became clear that he really liked her. I love slow-burn romances, and a love a good girl/bad boy romance, so the combination was fantastic. The only thing that would have made it better was a slow-burn, good girl/bad boy, hate-to-love romance. A trifecta of romance awesomeness!
But still, the romance was cute. During half the book, Piper is in denial about her feelings for Rafael. Around three-fourths in, both of them hash it out. I liked the dates and the crazy outings and the warm and fuzzies I got, during the whole book.
No love triangle. Piper goes on a "date" with another boy, but literally nothing happened, and she wasn't interested in him at any point, really. It was all Rafael, physically and emotionally and such!
As mentioned, Piper begins writing her big story for the Bennington scholarship on the diplomatic immunity kids, including Rafael. So you can imagine how that goes... girl starts hanging out with boy to get dirt on him, but ends up falling for him... how is that going to end? I was so nervous about the ending, because Piper's story could end up ruining Rafael's life. But the ending was a happy one, if a little abrupt (see below), and I could get behind it since this is a standalone. The evolution of Piper's story was interesting, and a little heartbreaking too.
Did I mention that this book is hilarious? The humor is so on point. I had several good belly laughs while reading, which is actually pretty rare for me. Somehow, books don't get too many extreme reactions from me (belly laughs, crying, etc.). The mild ones (giggling, irritation, etc.), sure.
So I liked this book! It's the first solo book I've read by Ashton (I do not count Everneath), and it turned out to be great. If she keeps
What I Did Not Like:
The ending is a little abrupt. I wanted to see more development in the ending! Why did Rafael choose to do this? Where did Samuel go? How did Piper's parents get by? I wasn't satisfied with the ending. It felt too neat and tidy. I loved that it was a HEA, but again, too neat and tidy.
Would I Recommend It:
I liked this book and I would recommend it, if you like cute contemporary! The romance is cute and there isn't too much drama, until the climax. The big climax scene at the end is as painful as you expect it would be, but the ending makes up for it (mostly -- see above). But this was a great standalone and well worth the time!
4 stars. I wasn't sold on Ashton's debut series, but I liked her co-written book and I liked this one. I may read more books by Ashton if they're anything like this one! Standalones are a wonderful thing. And I'm not usually a YA contemporary person, but this one was pretty great!
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