Stacy Gail’s Ugly Ducklings Finish First is a quick-paced contemporary romance that was a fun read. Gail gives us the conventional trope of the nerdy girl from high school, girl genius Payton Pruitt, getting with the popular guy, Wiley “Coyote” Sharpe. Though this is a familiar situation for romance-readers, Gail’s writing keeps it fresh. Being the smart girl that she is Payton is naturally wary of Wiley’s charms, but Wiley surprises her by being more than a pretty face. While he is a flirt and a charmer, he’s also a “sharpe” lawyer, interested in the well fair of the inhabitants of his small town. This leads us to the subplot of the story, a mini-mystery about some of the elderly residents being hoodwinked and losing their land. I liked the subplot, but it felt like I was waiting on it a bit. It resolved quickly, but this didn’t take away from the main attractions of the story. These included the quickness of the dialogue, the interesting history of the characters, and the great chemistry between Payton and Wiley!
Gail gives us snippets of their high school history, but through the eyes of the adult characters. My favorite parts include little shared moments that made their history special, and some of these seemed to go unnoticed by Payton and Wiley in their youth. The plot was fast-paced and only got better as it progressed. I particularly loved the later chapters of the book, especially some of the tense moments between Payton and Wiley! The only thing that made me pause was the convenience of the ending. Things wrapped up a little too easily, and certain obstacles were resolved a little too simply. This part took away from the novel a little bit. But overall, I truly enjoyed Ugly Ducklings Finished First and l look forward to reading more of Stacy Gail’s books!
Payton Pruitt plans on making a quick appearance at her high school reunion, to overcome her demons by showing her tormentors that she is now a confident, sexy woman. She doesn’t plan on staying long, let alone getting involved with Wiley “Coyote” Sharpe, the man who defined “player” in their youth! But Wiley is pleased to see Payton. The Baby Brain who tutored him has turned into quite a woman! Despite her misgivings, Payton can’t resist her attraction to Wiley. As a smart girl, though, she is certain that she can get involved with Wiley temporarily and leave with her heart intact. Wiley isn’t quite who he used to be in high school, and the more time they spend together, the less certain Payton is that leaving is what she wants to do after all…
Metal Mouth. Queen Geek. Dr. Payton Pruitt heard it all growing up. But she's over it, and attending her ten-year high school reunion is the perfect way to prove it to herself. Even if there's only one person she's interested in seeing in Bitterthorn, Texas: Wiley Sharpe.
Now a respected lawyer, Wiley didn't live down to the label Most Likely to Be Slapped with a Paternity Suit. But recent acts of vandalism suggest someone still sees him as a heartbreaker, and the reunion seems a likely place to find the culprit. Instead, Wiley comes face-to-face with his old pal Payton—and is wowed not only by her transformation into a ravishing swan, but by the connection they still share.
Payton is pleased the playboy she used to tutor has grown into an honorable man, but she's too smart to fall for a guy with roots in a place she couldn't wait to leave. But while Payton is an academic genius, Wiley is the one with the PhD in pleasure, and he intends to use it to convince her to stay…