March 3, 2015

SVU #32, The Boys of Summer: The Least Interesting Boat Theft Since Rory Gilmore Stole a Yacht

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:15 pm by Jenn

Hey, lifeguards, maybe do your job and make sure people aren't drowning?

Hey, lifeguards, maybe do your job and make sure people aren’t drowning?

Summary: Elizabeth is understandably upset that Jessica has snagged Ryan just minutes after Liz dumped him. She warns Jess not to get involved with him, but Jessica thinks she’s just jealous, and also thinks for some reason that Liz thinks she’s not smart enough to date Ryan. For some reason, Elizabeth doesn’t straight-out tell her that Ryan is an alcoholic and that their relationship is going to be a big mess. When she does eventually tell Jessica, Jess laughs, thinking it’s a last-ditch effort to break them up.

At first, Jessica thinks Ryan is just a big partier. Then he ticks her off by calling her Elizabeth when he’s drunk. Not long after, Jessica finds out firsthand how far gone he is. After he learns that Patti, his AA sponsor (who also relapsed), has put herself in the ICU by driving her car into a wall (possibly on purpose), Ryan goes on a bender, steals a boat, and takes Jess for a joyride. A bunch of lifeguards have to take another boat out and save them. Ben and Priya are there, and Priya and Jessica end up calling a truce.

But Jess and Ryan are definitely not on good terms, and he’s still a huge mess. Elizabeth babysits him that night, finally getting him to tell her that he’s gone off the deep end because of Patti (who, by the way, ends up dying). By the morning, Ryan has decided to quit drinking so he doesn’t end up like Patti. He doesn’t get back together with either twin, which is a little surprising. Jessica and Ben agree to be friends, and Jessica decides to try to move on with another lifeguard.

I was going to say that Nina has baby mama drama, but I’m really way too white to pull that off. While Rachel is over at Stu’s, telling him how excited she is that they’re going to be a family, Nina breaks into Rachel’s apartment to look for proof that she’s lying. She finds a bunch of negative pregnancy tests, plus a picture of a boy who looks a lot like Stu. The boy’s name is David, which is what Rachel wants to name the baby.

Nina and Stu confront Rachel, who’s fully nuts at this point, trying to kill Nina and all. In the middle of her psychotic break, she reveals that she saw her childhood best friend David get hit by a car and die. (David’s resemblance to Stu is never really explored; I think it’s just what put her over the edge to begin with.) This comes with Rachel reverting to being ten years old, so there is clearly something really, really wrong with her.

Nina wants to let the authorities handle Rachel, but Stu feels sorry for her and wants to pay for her to get some top-notch psychiatric treatment. Then there’s a random bit where Nina and Stu run into Paul, Nina’s love interest from the previous beach trilogy, who’s now a cop and knows a little about Rachel’s legal troubles. Then I guess Rachel gets committed and Stu forgives her for all her actions. Also, I don’t remember Rachel’s family being mentioned at all, so…what’s up with that? Shouldn’t Stu and Nina try to reach them?

With Pedro back in town, Winston is determined to get him and Wendy back together, partly because they still love each other and partly so Winston doesn’t have to deal with Wendy’s newfound crush on him. The two guys scheme to make Wendy think she’s visiting a psychic who can channel people’s feelings, or something like that. She’ll tell the psychic how she feels about Pedro, and the psychic will be able to tell her how Pedro feels. Except the psychic will really be Pedro. Wouldn’t marriage counseling be a lot more efficient?

Pedro puts on a great show as the fake psychic, and Wendy tells him that she still loves Pedro. He reveals himself to her by singing the song he wrote her. Suddenly everything is great between them, and Wendy will be going back on tour with Pedro for the rest of the summer. Pedro also hires Winston as a roadie. I guess it won’t be awkward that, five minutes ago, Wendy was all in love with Winston? Or that Winston will now be taking orders from a guy he considers a good friend? Are these people ever even mentioned again? How many alternate universes are there in Sweet Valley, anyway?

Thoughts: Pedro, trying on costumes to play the psychic: “I look like a deranged Pomeranian trying to pass itself off as Elvis!” If Wendy doesn’t want him, I’ll take him. I keep picturing him as Enrique Iglesias.

Rachel thinks the baby will be blond because Stu is and because she’s dyed her hair blond. So yeah, she’s definitely not playing with a full deck.

“Ryan had a few shots of whiskey last night and he was fine. How could only twice as many beers do him in this way?” Maybe because, assuming “a few” means three or more shots, twice as many would be t least six beers, which is a lot? I don’t drink and I’m bad at math, but even I get this.

Nina doesn’t like that Stu wants to finance Rachel’s stay in a “sanitarium.” First he’ll need to finance the construction of a time machine so they can travel back to when people still used that word.

September 2, 2014

SVU #23, Sweet Kiss of Summer: Can You Believe These People Were in Charge of Saving Lives?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:14 pm by Jenn

I tried to come up with a Lifeguardians of the Galaxy title, but it didn't quite work

I tried to come up with a Lifeguardians of the Galaxy title, but it didn’t quite work

Summary: Summer is wrapping up, and the lifeguards of Sweet Valley Shore are getting ready for their annual triathlon, where they’ll compete against their South Beach rivals. Ryan has ditched the squad and become a waiter. That makes Elizabeth mopey. Jessica, however, is now having a great summer, since she and Ben are together. Unfortunately, soon he’ll have to go back to school in Chicago while she stays in California. They can’t afford to visit each other much, so they’re hoping their squad has the best record of the summer, which will earn them merit pay.

Remember how Winston had to get a job dressing up as a huge hamburger because he didn’t make the squad? He’s still doing that. He gets in a fight with the South Beach lifeguards and ends up betting Sweet Valley Shore’s merit pay that they’ll win the triathlon. He does this without consulting his friends, and despite the fact that the merit pay isn’t his to do anything with. Good job, Winston!

The lifeguards aren’t happy when they hear what Winston did, but Wendy thinks they can win. Nina isn’t sure they can without Ryan. She also thinks she’s been a bad leader, which is so laughable, I don’t know where to start. Nina, you have been completely awesome in this trilogy. Don’t ever doubt yourself. Also, don’t mention Ryan; it just makes Elizabeth whine. It also makes her stalk him to the restaurant where he’s working, and get mad when she sees him with another woman.

The weird incidents from the previous book, such as the Sweet Valley squad being sabotaged and Paloma Perro being poisoned, continue here, starting with some robberies. Someone keeps breaking into a locked drawer in the squad’s office and stealing money. Wendy also has her wallet stolen from Pedro’s house. So it’s a little suspicious when Paul keeps buying Nina things like jewelry and lobster dinners. Paul says he’s just prespending the money South Beach will get when they win the triathlon.

Money is also turning up in Winston and Hamburger Harry’s hands. They’re taking bets on the triathlon, pretending they’re not bookies and aren’t doing anything illegal. Winston is allowed to be an alternate on Sweet Valley’s triathlon team, despite not being a lifeguard, but doesn’t see any conflict of interest. Meanwhile, Elizabeth gets a call from Tom, who still has no idea that she’s been mooning over Ryan all summer. She realizes that she still loves her boyfriend, but she also obviously has feelings for Ryan.

Winston and Harry continue accepting bets, including from a preteen boy who threatens to turn them in to the police if they don’t take his money. Then Jessica cuts her foot on a knife someone left in the sand, so she’s out of the triathlon and Winston’s in. He doesn’t think he’s in good enough shape, though, so Jessica talks Elizabeth into going to see Ryan and asking him to rejoin the squad. Ryan declines.

Nina previously saw Paul with a knife, so she thinks he planted it in the sand to injure Jessica. I’m not sure how he could possibly know exactly where she would step, but whatever. Nina’s usually pretty smart, so I’ll give her a pass on this one. She sends Jessica to South Beach’s station to flash around a wad of money in hopes that they’ll steal it and Sweet Valley will be able to confirm that they’re the burglars.

Throughout the book, Wendy’s been upset that Pedro, who’s off on tour, hasn’t been in touch with her. While she’s at his house, looking after his dog, she hears an answering-machine message from his manager, mentioning that his tour ended a week ago. Wendy’s super-suspicious that Pedro has been off the radar – he must be with another woman! There certainly couldn’t be any other explanation! Rachel (Ben’s ex, and the Regina George of this trilogy) randomly turns up and mocks Wendy, not believing that she’s dating Pedro.

While the Sweet Valley lifeguards stay up all night waiting for someone to come rob Jessica, Elizabeth goes back to see Ryan, like, Liz, you’re turning into a stalker. Chill out. He kisses her, then drives away. She follows him (again, stalker), finding him at a church with the woman from before. She figures they’re there to plan their wedding. Elizabeth, for someone who wants to be an investigative journalist, you SUCK at investigations.

Back at the beach, the Sweet Valley lifeguards find out that Winston’s been taking bets on the triathlon. Ben points out that he can’t take action on a competition he’s now in, so they kick him out. Then Wendy rescues a kid from drowning, but realizes it was all a diversion so someone could steal her wallet again. Where are the police in all this? Oh, right – Sweet Valley. Their badges say, “We’re incompetent.” By the way, Paul has been MIA for most of the book, but remains the Sweet Valley squad’s main suspect.

Elizabeth follows Ryan into the church and gets directed to the basement. And then she discovers Ryan’s true secret: He’s an alcoholic. Last summer, he skipped work because he was hungover, and a girl drowned. He blamed himself because he thought he would have been able to save her if he’d gone to work. After that, he got sober, and has been for a year. The woman Elizabeth saw him with is his sponsor.

Instead of being embarrassed that she thought Ryan was seeing someone else (even though they’re technically not dating anyway), then stalked him to a meeting he obviously wanted to keep quiet from her, Elizabeth guilts Ryan into going back to the beach and making amends to the other lifeguards. She also forces him to compete in the triathlon, which is dumb because he hasn’t been training. Whatever – Ryan comes back to the beach and everything is fine again.

Ryan regains leadership of the squad, and the triathlon gets off to a good start. In the biking portion, the only strange thing that happens is that two of the South Beach lifeguards try to knock Elizabeth and Ben over, and Rachel warns them to play nice. The swimming portion also goes fine, and the two squads are tied going into the running portion. Then Wendy gets lost in the woods, and the ghostwriter makes a big deal out of it, but it doesn’t go anywhere.

Nina comes across Paul, who’s been knocked out and tied up in the woods, after leading in the race. He doesn’t know who tied him up, just saying it was a kid. He admits that he was arrested for petty thievery a few years ago, and Captain Feehan (the guy in charge of all the lifeguards) helped him turn his life around. They teamed up to make Paul look like the burglar while they investigated other suspects.

Wendy beats Rachel in the running portion (though it seems Rachel may have let her win). Pedro’s waiting for her at the finish line, with the ring he went to Mexico to get from his grandmother. Despite thinking just hours ago that Pedro was cheating on her and she couldn’t trust him, and despite the fact that they’ve been together less than two months, if that, Wendy immediately accepts his proposal. Yeah, mazel tov, have a great life. I don’t care.

Somehow, South Beach wins the triathlon, which makes no sense if Sweet Valley won two portions, but whatever. This means Jessica and Ben’s long-distance relationship will have to mostly take place via phone. Captain Feehan reveals that he knew Winston and Harry were taking bets on the triathlon, but let it go because he’s looking for anyone who might have placed a large bet. That would be the preteen who threatened to go to the police. Guess what? He’s Rachel’s brother. They bet on Sweet Valley winning, then tried to throw the triathlon (including getting Paul out of the way).

Rachel tries to swim her way to freedom, which is kind of hilarious, because…how far away did she think she’d get? Was she going to swim to Mexico or something? Anyway, she hits her head and Winston saves her. Then she goes to jail, and Winston mails her a $50 for bail, which cracked me up. Wendy asks him to be her best man, so I guess that wedding’s going to happen.

Of the other summer couples, only Jessica and Ben remain together. He tells her he’s going to try to transfer to UCLA, which is super-close to SVU. Nina and Paul part ways, and she goes home to Brian, which is so dumb. And Elizabeth goes home to Tom, who will probably never find out that she spent the summer obsessed with another guy. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but poor Tom.

Thoughts: Ha, this book ends on Labor Day, which is when I finished reading it.

“Jessica couldn’t think of a single Jenny, Jen, or Jennifer at Sweet Valley Shore or neighboring South Beach.” I guarantee there are at least ten.

I love that Elizabeth’s mad that Ryan might be seeing someone else. Never mind that she’s currently cheating on her boyfriend. No one sneaks around behind Elizabeth Wakefield’s back while she’s sneaking around behind someone else’s back!

“Something in her resisted the idea of researching history papers and saving the world and doing all the other serious, grown-up things that lay around the corner.” “Saving the world”? Shut up, Elizabeth. Who do you think you are, Buffy?

“[Ben] shuddered at the thought of Jessica’s proud, strong body compromised in any way.” She cut her foot. Chill out. Also, ew.

August 19, 2014

SVU #22, Elizabeth’s Summer Love: Everyone Loves a Brooding Hunk

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:45 pm by Jenn

If you didn't know this book was from the '90s, this cover would clear that right up

If you didn’t know this book was from the ’90s, this cover would clear that right up

Summary: It’s been a month since the last book, and guess who’s not having a good summer? Jessica Wakefield, that’s who. She hates her job, Ben keeps bugging her, and worst of all, Elizabeth took the guy she wanted. She tells Nina she’s sick so Nina will go to work for her, which is a waste of a fake sick day, since the weather’s bad and they end up closing the beach. Perhaps a visit from Isabella will help? Jessica likes that…and would like it even more if Isabella brought Danny and Tom with her, so Elizabeth will have to put the brakes on whatever she has going on with Ryan. Jessica just won’t let her sister know her boyfriend’s coming, so Tom can surprise her.

Apparently Elizabeth and Ryan aren’t really together, despite their kiss in the last book, because other than being co-workers, they don’t have much of a connection. He doesn’t want to pursue anything because she has a boyfriend, and because it would cut into his time spent being emo. But Liz is still a dirty cheater, so whatever. Jessica, on the other hand, is still having to dodge Ben, who catches her at a salon on what’s supposed to be her sick day. Like he’s never gotten a manicure to cure an upset stomach. Nina catches them both at the salon and yells at Jessica for lying to her. Why is she so surprised?

Jessica tries to avoid Rachel by ducking into a fortuneteller’s, where she learns that a guy in her present was her husband in a last life. She’ll also hurt him very soon. Jessica’s sure the guy is Ryan. She heads out to find him; he’s with Elizabeth on the beach. He sees someone in trouble in the water, and the two of them go in to save her. As they celebrate after their rescue, Jessica spots them together and decides to tell Tom what his girlfriend’s been up. But then something hits her in the head and knocks her out.

Despite the fact that he just saved a life, Ryan gets yelled at by the captain guy in charge of all the lifeguards. It seems he didn’t put up “no swimming” signs, which is a big no-no during bad weather. Only Ryan DID put up the signs – it looks like someone cut the ropes tying them up. Also, one of the signs was the thing that hit Jessica in the head. Hee. Sorry, it’s not really funny, but…hee hee. Ahem. Anyway, Ben tells Nina that the signs were cut loose; that combined with Paloma’s poisoning makes him suspect that South Beach is trying to sabotage Sweet Valley Shore. Nina starts wondering if Paul is involved.

Elizabeth bugs Ryan a bunch about why they can’t be together, and he tells her that something happened last summer that haunts him. We already know what it is from the last book: Last summer, someone drowned. Never mind that it wasn’t on his watch and that it was in no way his fault. Ryan feels like Sweet Valley Shore is his beach, so everything that happens there is his responsibility. Maybe Ryan should look into a job that’s not quite so high-pressure. Anyway, he’s concerned about his reputation, and about losing focus on the job. But he’ll still go to an upcoming rave with her.

Elizabeth goes out to buy a new dress for said rave, and while she’s gone, Tom, Danny, and Isabella arrive in town. Liz gets ready for her big date, and just as she’s going down to meet Ryan, she runs into Tom. He thinks she was getting all prettied up for him. Ryan has no idea what’s going on. He and Jessica quickly pretend that they’re going to the rave together, which couldn’t make Jess happier.

After the rave, Ben discovers that Paloma’s missing, and apparently it was Jessica’s job to watch him, for some reason. I don’t know why the dog needs a sitter. They get into a huge fight and she screams that she hates him. Ben replies that he loves her. Ugh, no, you don’t! You’ve known her for 30 days, and she spent 29 of them yelling at you! Speaking of yelling, everyone else piles on Jessica for various reasons, so Jess decides she’s done with the shore and wants to go home with Isabella. It’s not like she’ll be a huge loss to the lifeguard squad.

The next day is July 4th, the beach’s busiest day of the year. Ryan is nowhere to be found – he left the rave with the captain and hasn’t been seen since. Nina takes charge, because Nina is awesome. She also tells Elizabeth about the person who drowned the summer before, and how Ryan blames himself. He skipped out on work a bunch of times after that, and now he’s going back to his old ways by not showing up to the beach. Nina thinks it’s because he saw Elizabeth and Tom together. Uh…that’s not a sign of stability. That’s not really something you want in a lifeguard.

A boat capsizes, with six drunk people on board. The Sweet Valley lifeguards rush out to rescue them, with Ryan making a surprise appearance to help out. Everyone is saved, and the lifeguards all come out looking good, including Jessica, who’s been having a good day. Ryan explains that he was off looking for a stolen boat holding all the fireworks for that night (though…why is that a lifeguard’s responsibility?). He has to reassure Elizabeth that he didn’t abandon the squad.

After the fireworks that night, Tom, Danny, Isabella, and Jessica the quitter leave, with Tom still having no idea that he hasn’t been the only person kissing his girlfriend this summer. She’s now more interested in Ryan than ever, and even imagines him while she’s making out with Tom. Dude, just break up with him.

Jessica’s almost back to SVU when she decides to go back to the beach and finish out the summer. She apologizes to everyone in the house, even though I don’t think she did much wrong, other than scheming against Elizabeth and lying to Nina about being sick. She’s starting to think that Ben, not Ryan, is her past-life husband, and that they’re destined to be together. Ben’s like, “I can get behind that.” Ick. He’s just not appealing.

The next morning, Elizabeth goes to see Ryan for some more making out. While their lips are busy, a kid almost drowns. Ryan blames Elizabeth for distracting him and for not following all the proper procedures in the rescue. Elizabeth cries. I bet the kid who almost drowned is, like, “Sorry to interrupt your relationship drama, but could I trouble you for some CPR?”

Paul, the guy Nina’s been hanging out with (but resisting romantically because of Bryan), tells her he’s been asked to join the South Beach lifeguard squad, the rivals of Nina and Co.’s squad. Nina still likes Paul, but she’s getting a little suspicious about him. First of all, he carries a diving knife, despite still working in a surf shop. Second of all, he happens to conveniently find Paloma after she’s fed poisoned hot dogs. (Poor puppy! She’s okay, though.)

The night of the rave, Paul takes Nina for a private boat ride, which is definitely sketchy. When the boat’s engine dies, Nina clues in that this might not be a safe situation. Her solution is to jump out and swim for the shore. Later, Paul swears that he didn’t do anything to sabotage Sweet Valley, and Nina decides to believe him. I don’t know why she thinks he’s telling the truth when two seconds ago she thought he wasn’t.

Winston’s summer is going badly, since he wasn’t picked as a lifeguard and hasn’t found a job anywhere else. Wendy encourages him to interview for a job at Hamburger Harry’s. The job is, unfortunately, as the restaurant’s mascot, which means Winston has to wear a big hamburger costume and try to get people to come eat there. He tries to quit after just an hour, but Hamburger Harry didn’t become King of the Hamburgers by being a fool. He guilts Winston into staying.

The next challenge Winston has to face is Hot Dog Howie. That would be the mascot of a hot dog place, for those of you who can’t keep up with this sophisticated literature. The two mascots pick a fight, and people on the boardwalk egg them on, placing bets on who will win. Winston and Howie secretly get together and organize a big fight so they can get a little extra income from everyone’s bets. Unfortunately, Howie’s been doing this a while, and he doesn’t go easy on Winston. It’s probably worth it for the money, though.

Wendy keeps getting flowers from Pedro, who is totally in love with her and can’t take a hint. I think she should stop accepting the flowers, which might send him mixed signals, but what do I know? Pedro has gone from kind of sweet to pretty much a stalker, what with all the flowers and pretending to be drowning so Wendy will come rescue him. Wendy, that’s not the behavior of a well man. You’re right to keep your distance.

Pedro shows up at the gang’s house the night of the rave and tags along with Wendy and Winston. Wendy has such a fabulous time with Pedro at the rave that she doesn’t seem to care anymore that he only asked her out originally because Winston made him. Pedro also says he loves her, so Wendy’s on her way to fulfilling every fangirl’s dream of dating her celebrity crush.

Thoughts: Winston’s hesitant to take the hamburger job, but how is dressing as a hamburger any different than being SVU’s mascot? At least as a hamburger, Winston gets paid.

The mental picture of Jessica getting hit with a sign is hilarious.

Nina wears “a long, red flannel granny gown with little black-and-white cows all over it.” Thumbs down for a nightgown, but that would make a cute pair of pajama pants.

These people are spending a lot of money for college students who can’t be making much over minimum wage.

Nina would rather dive into cold water and swim home than stay in the boat with Paul. And that’s why she’s awesome.

The rave features line dancing. Yeah, sure, okay.

August 5, 2014

SVU #21, For the Love of Ryan: Maybe These People Shouldn’t Be Dating Their Co-Workers In the First Place?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 6:54 pm by Jenn

Twin on the right, burn those shorts right now

Twin on the right, burn those shorts right now

Summary: Another summer has rolled around, and this year, the twins plan to do something useful with their time: They’re going to be lifeguards. Apparently there is a Sweet Valley Shore, which is a happening place for celebrities. I think it’s supposed to be like the Hamptons, but less upper-class. Nina worked at the shore the previous summer and has arranged for the twins and Winston to stay in a house with her and two others, Ben and Wendy. They’ll all try to make the lifeguard squad Nina worked on. It seems dangerous to rent a house with people who don’t have a guaranteed paycheck, but when you’re in college, you do wacky things like that.

The head of Sweet Valley Shore’s squad (there are four other squads) is Ryan Taylor, the hottest guy who ever hotted. Jessica is immediately smitten. She’s also super-good at lifeguard stuff. Elizabeth, however, screws up repeatedly and is shocked to discover that not everyone loves her and wants to give her things just because she’s awesome. Ryan doesn’t think she’s good enough for his squad, and Elizabeth has to actually work to prove herself, for once. Winston also sucks, but everyone figured that would happen.

Jessica starts getting to know Ryan, who is nice enough but is very serious about his job and about safety and following the rules. Through conversations he has with Nina, we learn that while he was off-duty the previous summer, a girl drowned, and Ryan blames himself. He thinks that because he’s the boss, all responsibilities fall on him, so all of his lifeguards need to be the best. Fair enough, but he needs to loosen up a little.

Ben also takes an interest in Jessica, but she finds him annoying and tells him she and Ryan are dating so he’ll back off. Except she doesn’t tell anyone else to back up that story, so when Ben brings it up, everyone laughs at her. Ben really is a jerk, by the way; he won’t leave Jessica alone after she asks him to repeatedly, and doesn’t get the hint that she’s really not interested. He’s restraining order material.

Elizabeth continues to make stupid mistakes, and tries to get Nina to defend her to Ryan. Nina won’t, because they’re there to work, not be buddies. I understand Elizabeth’s frustrations with the girl who’s supposed to be her best friend, but I have to side with Nina here. It’s not her fault Liz is screwing up, and she can’t use her friendship with Ryan to get him to go easy on Elizabeth. If Liz can’t do the job, Nina can’t get the rules bent for her. Anyway, Elizabeth gets left behind during a group run, and almost drowns when she goes for a swim. Ryan berates her in front of everyone because no one should go in the water alone. I’m surprised he lets her keep going in the tryout process; I probably would have cut her right then.

Time for a dance! I mean, of course. Nina meets a guy named Paul who’s a thousand times more fun than Bryan (though, let’s be honest, salmonella poisoning is a thousand times more fun than Bryan). Elizabeth stays behind to mope and try to call Tom, who’s in Colorado for the summer, but she can’t reach him. She starts thinking that he’s cheating on her. Ben’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel, who’s on a rival squad, thinks Jessica is interested in Ben and goes psycho on her.

Elizabeth and Ryan run into each other, and she laments that she sucks so badly at lifeguarding. He tells her she’s overthinking everything, and she needs to stop being overconfident. He needs lifeguards who think they’re above making mistakes, because that’ll just make them screw up. Elizabeth cries. Okay, I don’t think she should be a lifeguard. I wouldn’t want my life to depend on this girl.

On the day Ryan will make his final decisions about the squad, Jessica spots someone struggling in the water and saves him. Ryan’s so impressed with her skills and how well she followed protocol that he tells her she doesn’t have to complete the tryout process. It’s nice to see Jessica excel at something important for once. Nina, Ben, and Wendy all make the squad as well, and Elizabeth surprises everyone by getting the last spot. Winston is out, which means he needs to find another job if he wants to stay in the house.

Elizabeth almost gets her butt fired just minutes after being hired, in a really stupid scene. Wendy gets in a fight with a rival squad at a hot dog stand, and they throw condiments at each other. Ryan yells at Liz for not stopping the fight. This is the one time I think he’s too hard on her. She’s not a babysitter, and the other lifeguards are adults – they’re responsible for their own actions. Nina gets on Elizabeth’s case as well, wondering why Liz is so flustered by everything. Liz starts to realize that it’s because she finds Ryan so attractive.

Time for more socializing! Ben helps Jessica get rid of a guy who’s bugging her by pretending to be her boyfriend. Go away, Ben. Elizabeth and Ryan end up in the lifeguard station together, and suddenly they’re both attracted to each other and they kiss. Uh-oh! Jessica goes in to get Ryan to make Rachel leave her alone, and catches her sister kissing her crush. She’s furious, and rightfully so.

Throughout the book, Winston and Wendy have become close friends (but they’re not interested in each other romantically, so Denise has nothing to worry about). She gives him a tour of the shore and points out where all the celebrities live. They also take in a stray dog, which Wendy names Paloma Perro after her favorite singer, Pedro Paloma. (I don’t know why they don’t name the dog Perro Paloma, which makes more sense, but whatever.)

Coincidentally, Pedro has a house at the shore! And when Winston decides to find a way to make money that doesn’t involve lifeguarding, since he’s not sure he’ll make the squad, he decides to conduct celebrity tours. All goes well until his tour group makes a scene at Pedro’s house and the police shut down Winston’s operation. Not realizing that the tour has been canceled, Pedro tracks down Winston and offers him money to stop bringing people by his house. Instead, Winston asks him to ask out Wendy. Pedro resists, so Winston threatens to bring back his tour group. Winston Egbert: blackmailer.

Pedro later calls the house to set up a date with Wendy, and Winston shoots down his suggestions, wanting him to do something memorable. Pedro agrees to dinner and dancing. The date goes really well, at least until Pedro accidentally mentions that Winston got him to ask Wendy out. Wendy won’t listen when Pedro tells her that he really does like her. She’s just furious with Winston for using her.

Now everyone in the house is mad at each other, and Nina comes home to a screaming fight. She awesomely takes charge, getting everyone to shut up and reminding them that they have to work together all summer, so they need to put aside their personal differences. (Nina is fully awesome in this book; I’ve never liked her more.) Except this doesn’t really solve anything, because Jessica’s still going to be mad at Liz for stealing her potential boyfriend. Then the toilet explodes because Winston sucks as a plumber. Womp womp.

Thoughts: This probably makes me sound old and cranky, but they should probably have a rule about lifeguards not dating each other. They don’t need all the drama and distractions while they’re trying to keep people from drowning.

The Sweet Valley Shore is “several hours” from SVU. I don’t understand the geography of this town.

Bryan was supposed to work with the gang, but that makes no sense – we know he only recently learned to swim. No way is he qualified to be a lifeguard.

Winston wears Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Guys, I finally figured it out. Winston is Pacey Witter.

“Hey, Blondie, how do I start a conversation with you?” Do you think that line has ever worked on anyone? You’re not even trying, Ben.

Not one person mentions that Wendy gave a male dog a female name.

There’s a Hollywood couple named Dan Jamison and Melody Geffin. I assume they have a daughter named Decatur who will be starring in Forty Hues of Beige.

Nina, when Winston struggles during rescue drills: “Come back here and save me.” I love Nina.