Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)
Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.
Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?
When Luis and his mother move back to Fairfield so she can be closer to her grandchildren, that protection is tested. (Did you catch that? I said "grandchildren" Yep, Luis is an uncle now but I won't say by which brother because that would be a spoiler and those are just no fun.)
Luis is spending his Senior Year in Fairfield, much to his chagrin until he runs into Nikki, the girl he met at his brothers wedding two years ago who didn't fall for his shameless flirtations. (Hey! there's another spoiler - sort of) He realizes this move back may not be so bad after all. Luis' downfall is that he, along with the other Fuentes men has never shied away from a challenge, especially a dangerous one. Nikki is definitely a challenge but so are the Latino Bloods and when Luis meets back up with his childhood friend Marco whose in deep with the LB's, he finds this may be one challenge he can't handle on his own and survive.
Nikki is Mexican like the Fuentes family is but she lives on the north side of town because her father is a Doctor. She doesn't speak Spanish and knows very little about her Mexican heritage which has never really been a problem until she meets Luis. She begins to feel like she doesn't fit in anywhere because while she's not white (even if she's been brought up that way - or assimilated), she's not Mexican enough for her Mexican peers either. As far as Luis is concerned, she feels an instant connection with him but has been betrayed before and can't allow herself to be sucked in again and definitely not by another gang banger.
Luis and Nikki both have secrets their keeping from each other and will be forced to make choices that will alter the rest of their lives.
Having seen documentaries on Latino gangs, I can't say that these books really represent what life is like for those teens and I found myself wishing is was that "simple" for real life gang bangers to get out and change their lives but I enjoyed reading these books nonetheless. The bond between the brothers is one of love and loyalty and the romances rival those of Romeo and Juliet.
*Cover Comment - Chain Reaction - I read a comment by another reader about the cover showing Luis and Nikki showering together but if you look closer, you'll notice a couple of things... 1) They're fully clothed 2) It's not a regular shower head and if you think about the title of the series and that it all started in a High School Chemistry classroom, you'll realize it's a shower almost all classrooms/labs have in case of a chemical spill. Granted, most people don't stand under them and make out after a lab accident but that's where the sauciness of this series comes in