Review: Jake the Panty-Ripper
Wattpad staple Jake the Panty Ripper has the potential to be a great, sexy romance, but its cliché main character completely tanks the story.
by Kimber Lee (@KanyeInterruptedMe)
Sweet, innocent nurse Maya is asked by a patient to drop off a letter to her son, Jake, in prison. Jake just so happens to be a dangerous—but extremely attractive—member of a biker gang. Despite having a boyfriend, she can't resist his charms for long.
The premise of this book is unique and compelling, and the author draws you in with immediate action. Lee writes with a strong voice and many characters feel realistic. The love interest, Ripper, is nuanced and flawed, and most side characters are complex and well fleshed out.
The author has a gift for writing steamy sex scenes that could fog up a room. Though at times these scenes can be unrealistic, we're willing to accept a bit of artistic license in a good sex scene.
Realism is a general problem for this book. Bizarre descriptions of nightclubs and bars will make you wonder if the author has ever actually been to one (we're guessing no). Then there's the motorcycle club that only uses legal means of earning money (bike repair and tattoo shops) for vague moral reasons. But despite their aversion to prostitution and drug trafficking, they have a notable habit of near-constant murder and assault.
Where this book really takes a wrong turn is with the main character—Maya. The character is dry and bounces aggressively between opposing one-note tropes. In one moment, Maya is a shy, virginal good girl and in the next she's a playful sex kitten, but she never quite manages to step beyond simple stereotypes.
For the most part, Maya is a quintessential Mary Sue—an adult virgin who doesn’t drink or curse or even enjoy a night out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she's also an orphan with a tragic backstory. She has a boring, rich boyfriend with snobby parents, which is a bit predictable, but even he ends up being less of a trope in comparison to Maya.
Since we never really get a sense of the character, most of her decisions and actions seem arbitrary. Readers are left scratching their heads as her hot and cold attitude guides the plot in bizarre and seemingly random ways.
The author seems to incorporate her own personal views on topics like sex, prostitution, drug use, drinking, and sexual dancing—getting on a moral high horse that seems to extend beyond the main character's voice. It's jarring to read such an overtly sexual book that almost feels like it's judging you for reading it.
Toward the end, the plot of this book seems to really unravel. It's as if the author had a great beginning and thought she'd figure out the ending when she got there, but never actually got around to it. It was nearly impossible to tell which chapter was the end, as the last seven or so seem like relatively anticlimactic wrap-ups light on actual content and heavy on Maya’s long-winded internal self-reflection.
While the first half is enjoyable and it's no doubt that Lee has a gift for crafting a believable character, a few strange choices irredeemably derail the plot. Unless you like your sexy romance with a side of Catholic guilt, this book will probably confuse you more than entertain you.