A feel-good romance with sweat and bruises
Liv is pretty desperate: she hates her job as a nightclub waitress and her home feels like a prison, with her alcoholic and gambling-addict mother spending all Liv’s hard-earned money. On a whim, she tries out for a spot as a wrestler at the Beatcave and lands a three-month internship along with two other women, one of whom is the infamous Raisa we met in book one.
I don’t know anything about wrestling. Nothing at all. So it took this sentence for me to understand where the author’s pen name comes from: “The following part was bigger storytelling, marking the birth of three new personas in the fictional world of kayfabe”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, kayfabe is “the practice of trying to make people believe that wrestlers are particular characters, when in fact they are only pretending to be those characters”. Which I guess I kinda knew? Anyway, I love the way the author describes the matches, the mix of sports and theatre, the excitement, the show, the sounds and energy.
Pretty Devils can probably be read as a standalone but I wouldn’t recommend it. The first Sucker Punch book introduces the whole crew and the place and you’ll get to enjoy the story a lot more if you’re already familiar with the Beatcave crew.
The found family that made book one so nice to read is at the core of this one too. I struggled a bit to get into the story because the beginning felt overly melodramatic, which I guess was needed to set the scene, and highlight Liv’s journey (past and to come).
Things can go one of two ways with characters like Liv. You can either find her annoying or endearing. It was the second for me (with a tiny dash of the first) and if it is for you as well, you’ll enjoy witnessing her finding a good life with good people.
I don’t remember which author said it a long time ago, but second books are often harder to write. There are expectations after the first one, especially if it’s successful. More pressure on the author. For the reader, there’s no sense of novelty anymore either. And so it’s not rare that a second book will feel a little under. Pretty Devils has a lot of what I loved in the first Sucker Punch book, it also has a few more flaws and inconsistencies. Why doesn’t Raisa offer her couch to Liv even for a couple of days when she finds out she’s homeless, for example? Even so, I really like the characters, I like the atmosphere, and I also enjoy reading about things working out and people being kind. If you’re looking for a feel-good series with sweat and bruises, you’ve found it. 4 stars.