Ninja at First Sight (Knitting in the City #4.75) by Penny Reid

Ninja at First Sight book coverSince I’m having so much trouble keeping up with my romance reading (not to mention my own novels… sigh), I thought I’d pick the shortest romance on my shelf. Ninja at First Sight seemed perfect, even if it could be read after the book it’s a prequel for (which I haven’t read yet). I still prefer reading books in chronological story order.

This novella was, of course, cute and entertaining (it is Penny Reid, after all). Fiona is a college freshman with an unusual past—she was formerly an up-and-coming Olympic gymnast, had cancer at fourteen, and didn’t go to high school but is in advanced classes. Greg is a British 23-year-old who served in the US Marines (it’s complicated). They meet in the dorms and although there’s clear chemistry at first, it seems impossible—Greg’s got a girlfriend and is desired by all girls and women in his vicinity and Fiona is a totally inexperienced hermit. She wouldn’t seem to have a chance even if she was interested in him. She tells herself she’s not.

I would calibrate my smiles and interactions to friendship or acquaintance level. No big deal.

Fiona is really cool. I always like a smart heroine, but she’s also a little quirky. She’s not shy even though she spends most her time in her room. She’s just inexperienced with all social situations, not only romantic ones. Greg is less obviously appealing at first, but he’s clever and funny and the two of them engage in several loaded debates, at least one witnessed by half the floor (which she wins).

Greg’s pretty cocky but he’s adorable when he gets drunk and goes to Fiona’s door and gives her the first real clue that he’s interested in her. Knowing that she’s never been kissed, he tells her he wants to be her first everything. And he really sees her, one of the few people to do so.

“I can’t stop thinking about you. I saw you during the first week of class last semester, and, Christ, you’re gorgeous, but you’re so… different, sad… ethereal. You walked right past me for months, but I saw you every time. I see the sorrow in you… or maybe you don’t even know…”

When Fiona thinks about what she loves about him, it shows how complex they both are:

I loved his goodness and wrongness, his unwavering priorities and mulishness. I loved his patience—granted, I also hated his patience—and I loved his wit.

This book isn’t as steamy as some of Reid’s others, but that doesn’t take away from its appeal. Even though there’s just some pretty heavy-duty kissing, Fiona’s experience of it is worth reading. The story’s simple as it’s short, but the characters are multi-dimensional and compelling and dialogue is as entertaining as ever. This is a definite must for fans of Reid.