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Distraction by A E Murphy

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This is one of the best forbidden student teacher romances yet. It has all the usual elements of trying (and of course failing) to resist the attraction, sneaking around, getting caught, and so forth.

The sexual tension is amazing. That’s really the standout here: how it builds and builds and they haven’t even kissed until well into the second half of the book.

The sex scenes are not overly explicit, they don’t cross over into actual erotica, but they’re detailed enough to be hot and convincing.

The heroine, Eloise, starts out extremely bratty and immature. So much so that it’s disconcerting that a 29-year-old man would fall for her so deeply. She comes across more like a 14-year-old than a 17-year-old. However by the end of the novel she is much more convincingly mature, perhaps due to the difficult life experiences that happen to her, including the relationship with her history teacher Isaac Price. By this point you could definitely see why he would fall for her.

By the end of it he’s the one who has disintegrated jealousy, possessiveness and even violence (not towards Eloise however).

The book does become rather angsty and melodramatic towards the end. Going to university does not mean couples need to split up, many students start university with a girlfriend or boyfriend “back home”. There’s a lot of unnecessary wailing and weeping about that, which makes the final denouement a bit premature and unrealistic. Particularly given it’s a trilogy, you would expect the author to reserve a particular event that happens in the final chapter for until the end of Book 3. Perhaps that means plenty more twists and turns are ahead. It will certainly be interesting to see how this series sustains itself across two more books.

There’s another incident of violence towards the end, the outcome of which is so absurd that it might have been better for this to have been written differently. Even the most bungling forensic investigator (or doctor) isn’t going to mistake a near-fatal knife stab wound requiring intensive care for someone “crashing into a table”. That part just wasn’t feasible, and I wish the author had made it a bit more realistic (perhaps a punch not a stabbing) because the rest of the book tends to be realistic in tone.

There were some minor quirks, such as the references to “Boston University” – there is a Boston College in the UK, but it in no way has the level of prestige that the other universities mentioned have. It’s highly unlikely that a student of the calibre to win a place at Cambridge (equivalent to US Ivy League) would be applying to such a college.

It’s also highly unlikely that someone with seven GCSEs of B and C grade would get into Cambridge, let alone someone in their final year of A-level history who confused “Mussolini” with “that Muselin guy”. Not even a GCSE student, by their final year of GCSEs, would be making that kind of error. So I felt that Eloise was inconsistently portrayed as stupid at the the start of the book, when in reality she must be extremely bright.

And finally it is not actually illegal for a teacher to date a pupil/student aged 18 in the UK. It would probably be a sackable offence, but it is not actually illegal. It is an offence for a teacher to engage in a sexual relationship with a pupil of 16 or 17, even though they are above the legal age of consent. Since Eloise is 18 when they consummate their relationship, it is not actually illegal.