Third book in the Dearest series, Kissing Madeline reads like a mash-up of the two first books. There's the bland heroine, the duchy hero, a plot revoling around sex, a mystery that is no mystery at all, some casual sexism and slutshaming, but let's take it from the start.
Madeline, the heroine, walks in on her boyfriend sleeping with another woman. Madeline breaks it off and decides to focus (even more) on her job. When she moves in with Sheri, she is now the neighbour of Daren, a Heisman trophy winner. They've met before thanks to mutual friends. Sheri suggest Madeleine should go out with Daren.
“At least let me introduce you two before some slussy gets her hooks into him.”
Instead, Madeline (literally) runs into Daren during one of her work outs. With Madeline not wanting a relationship, she and Daren soon decides on a friends with benefits relationship, but maybe one of them, or both even, wants more.
This story is basically about Maddie and Daren hooking up while wanting more. There is no plot. Well, there is some stuff on Maddie's work, but it's so insignificant in the long run, and around 80% there is (again, like in the first book) a poor attempt at mystery. It doesn't help that both Maddie and Daren are such boring characters. He's somewhere in the middle between the previous two heroes in this series: a bit douchey an casually sexist, Gavin, and all out sexist misogynist, Jax. Daren falls right in the middle. His character had so much potential: he has a connection to Clem form the first book, in the fact that he cheated on her in high school, and for the past years have been dating a woman that has, by all means, treated him badly. Instead he's another in a long line of poorly developed new adult heroes. He says/thinks things like:
"I’m fine with needing to convince you that you like when I touch you."
He’s been bitchy all week, and I’ve been tempted to ask if he needs tampons.
And Maddie is definitely not a fuck-and-forget kind of girl.
You know, usual new adult hero bullshit.
This book had potential. It could've explored the sexism Maddie has to put up with at her job (it could've explored the way female journalists/tv-presenters are treated), Daren coming to terms with his past and the moral struggles, it could've explored the friends with benefits better. It could've done so much more, much better. Instead it remains in the land of typical new adult, filled with weak plots, sexism, unhealthy relationships and heroes, the virginal heroine and the negative look upon sexuality.