5 addictive stars all along!
OK here is the deal: I read these two books in a row while I had several ARCs to read and much awaited books coming in my mailbox.
Whomever recommended these books to me (Yes Sarah J Penas I blame you lady!) on my FB page will have to address all complaints by PR agencies if I fail to meet my commitments regarding ARCs!
Kidding Sara relax, I will manage.
Chloe Walsh was a totally new author to me. I had never heard about her.
She managed to write two contemporary NA books about high school romances totaling 1825 pages!!!!
Yes you’ve read it correctly: more than 1800 pages.
That’s so unusual for contemporary NA romances! You find these big books in Fantasy like Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare but not contemporary.
I read them in less than one week.
That’s how addictive these books are.
Fair warning though: some will hate them and will have eye rolling moments.
Because the female character Shannon is the definition of damsel in distress. Or a small mouse perfect meal for all mean cats *and there are plenty in the story* around her.
Many will see her as weak.
I saw her as insanely strong. Because she has resilience like you never encounter. Because if she had super power it would be survival. Against all odds.
I bet in her skin you would have stayed on the ground long ago.
“The girl was the definition of fall down seven times and stand up eight. No matter what seemed to be thrown her way, she always dusted herself off, climbed back up on her feet, and tried again. “I’m just so tired of being here,” she was so strong, so resilient, and she didn’t even know it.”
Second reason why some will loathe the book: the hero is just perfect. Yes really, really perfect!
Johnny is tall, muscled, future rugby star. Handsome. Smart. Like really brilliant. Protective. Loyal to his friends and Shannon. Good. He is above all else a very good person.
Honestly he is a teenage wet dream. Mister Perfect. And I loved him to pieces.
Third reason why some won’t like it: all what happened to Shannon and her family was unbelievable. Sadly unbelievable in “some people are born with just bad luck and grim future”.
You could think this was overdone.
Yet I believe this happens. In real life. Just read the newspapers when some cruel people committed atrocities on teenagers. Or when big bullies at school made life a living hell for some other students. When the synopsis comes with words like “tortured “ “demons and evil men” they are not kidding! If you are sensitive to such topics stay far far away from these books!
Now that all is in the open let’s get into the nitty gritty: what are the books about and why I loved it so much.
The topics are ….many.
Even if the “main” trope is a love story between Johnny rising but injured rugby star and Shannon lost girl from the “wrong side of the track” there are many sub tropes.
-The “finding my way” trope.
Johnny has been focused, single minded really about rugby for years and years. He is the overachiever. He has a big goal: play for Ireland. He has made his body a well-oiled machine. Feeding several times a day with healthy meals. Training all the time. No going out. No living like a normal teenager.
But is all this healthy in the long run? Is rugby really all that matters in a life?
Meeting Shannon will be eye opening for Johnny.
Soon enough he will obsessed about the girl with big sad eyes. Rugby will still be important but it won’t be everything anymore.
-The “abuser and bullies” trope.
Shannon is one of these persons every bully or abuser instantly target. Why remains a mystery. The scenes in this book are harsh, brutal. I sometimes wanted to throw up. And protect Shannon like Johnny NEEDED to do. You will have evil in all its glory.
Sadly this happens at school, at work, at home, everywhere.
-The “mental manipulation” trope.
Not only are bullied mentally manipulated but I am speaking about conditioning.
How you condition someone to obey for years and years. Because there sill be consequences. And even adults can’t find their way out and begin to find excuses for their abuser. Chloe Walsh did an excellent job here depicting the brain washing. How manipulators can make you believe that it’s your fault what’s happening. It’s your fault if they are beating you. It’s your fault if they beat your beloved ones because YOU made THEM angry. You are worthless and guilty.
And of course you try to hide what is happening to you.
-The “foster care’s limits” trope.
Because foster system is not perfect. You have fantastic and loving foster parents and you have …the others.
-The “rich boy/poor girl” trope.
I know this is a used and abused trope. But you could compare with Cinderella. When the Prince falls in love with the poor girl. Blame it on Disney if I love this trope! Especially when it is perfectly executed like Chloe Walsh did here.
I am not even finished here as the story has many layers.
I also loved the characters.
They are all with their own character’s trait, flaws and quirkiness. They are fleshed out perfectly and you really can imagine them! Gibsie the best friend with his own brand of crazy. Manwhore with a golden heart. Johnny the boy I would love to have falling in love with my daughter as he is just perfect. Shannon small, gorgeous, selfless, shy, terrorized a survivor. Claire-Bear big blond beautiful bubbly and solar. Shannon’s best friend. Lizzie with all her snark and anger. Joey big bro with a huge heart. So generous that he is drowning. I would have loved to have a big brother so protective and dedicated. Edel and John, Johnny’s parents. Just rich, gorgeous and generous. Loving and protective. Everyone wants parents like these ones!
And I could go on and on.
Every character, side characters included, add colors and “meat” to the story.
The pace was just right, the story flowed effortlessly and even if it is not a Pullitzer and is filled to the brim with clichés it worked brilliantly! I loved that story. I even read till the wee hours to finish because I really really really could not stand the suspense anymore. It was just “it” for me.
Oh and last parting words: if you are allergic to angst don’t read it either ….LOL
Recommend? A thousand times!
Have you read this author before? Do you mind when authors use traditional tropes in romance?
Thanks for reading!