Title: Diplomatic Immunity
Aspiring reporter Piper Baird decides to write a scathing exposé on the overprivileged students at an elite Washington, DC, school, only for her life to change when she begins to fall for the story’s main subject, in this new realistic contemporary romance from Brodi Ashton, the author of the Everneath trilogy.
Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity…it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.
Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.
Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.
The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?
I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
I’ve read the first two books of Brodi Ashton’s Everneath trilogy, but I wasn’t overly impressed by them and never bothered to read the third book to see how it all ends, so I definitely wasn’t on the lookout for any future books from her. When I saw this book, though, I knew I had to check it out and give her a second chance. I don’t know what it is about DC and its twisted intrigue, at least in the form of books rather than the scary landscape that it seems to be in the real world, but it catches my attention just about every time, including now, and it impressed me and gave me hope for future Ashton books.
Piper is an interesting protagonist. She’s quite blunt and goes for what she wants, even if it means delving into the secrets of the rich kids with diplomatic immunity around her. She can be a bit one-minded, but I think that seems realistic for her situation – a poor girl who desperately wants to win a journalism award so that she can go to a good college and make a better future for herself. Her bluntness can make for some awkward moments for Piper, as well, which are luckily entertaining for me, even if Piper regrets them. It was just amusing being in her head overall, as well as watching her interactions with people, especially the love interest, Rafael.
Rafael is an interesting character. He has touches of stereotypical rich boy who does wild things just to feel, but he has enough quirks and personality points to make him a more engaging character. Both he and Piper have brothers who are somewhere on the spectrum, and it was great seeing them both interact with them and generally being awesome siblings. He can also be quite charming and fun, which meant much more to me as a reader than the talk of his gorgeousness – I’ve had enough of YA love interests being traditionally attractive and such, so an intriguing personality is much more interesting to me.
One complaint I do have is that I never really cared for Piper’s best friend in the way I think I should. She was tied up with the problematic elements of Piper’s quest to write an exposé – namely, the one-mindedness that ignored how multiple people might be affected by such a story. We didn’t get to know her very well before Piper went off to the expensive private school where she met the diplomatic immunity crowd, so we mostly got talk about their friendship and quick moments with the BFF, mainly about the article. I don’t think the best friend was a bad character, I just didn’t get to know her enough to appreciate her – instead, she was the annoying person who thought the article was brilliant even though it would obviously hurt some people if it was published.
Ultimately, though, this was a pretty fun book while also including some nice nuggets about the haves and have-nots as well as strong sibling relationships. The ending seemed kind of rushed, but this was an ARC, so I don’t know if that’ll change at all before this book comes out. As I review this book a couple weeks after speeding through it, I’ve forgotten a fair bit of it, but I had fun reading it and look forward to rereading it, as well as checking out what Ashton writes in the future.