What started out as a strong teen story about a broken girl with a good dose of indifference and angst that I really enjoyed, morphed into Gossip Girl meets One Tree Hill meets Dawson’s Creek meets all those other high school tales that are predictable yet reach a certain type of audience who gobble it up. But don’t be fooled; this is far from a YA book, at least in terms of sex, even though the mentality fits. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great YA with that mix of innocence and cocky naiveté that exists before mortgages, crushed hearts, and jobs that are valued solely by their 401k’s and dental plans. This just isn’t that.
Where to begin… At first I thought these boys with the model-perfect bodies were popular for their abundant confidence and alluring apathy, but I soon realized it was more rippling abs, sex with anything in a skirt, drinking till the sun comes up, spoiled rich kids, and some other typical bad boy traits. My cool kids turned into cocky men whose behavior rollercoasters between sixteen and thirty-five. I can embrace the smoldering eyes that normally are gifted to a billionaire CEO alpha male, but I am saddened by how quickly I got bored with the nightly parties that clashed with the puppy love the entire town had for two talented high school jocks, and I was left wondering who the intended audience really was – adults or teens? There are aspects that fit both but not necessarily at the same time.
The story is told first-person by the relatable and broken Sam. The abuse and neglect of her mother and push-over attitude of her father were hard to read, but I can see where her apathetic and destructive behavior comes from. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I enjoyed and understood her typical teenage arrogance and lack of common sense. Thankfully, I never set my father’s car on fire, but the sense that the world is coming to an end over teenage drama is something a lot of girls can appreciate. That all changes, though, when she is forced to move in with the town’s odd obsession – men, women and children all swoon at the mere mention of Mason and Logan. I cheered her on for her intense desire to flip the town the bird, but was disappointed by how quickly she gave in to Mason’s sex-fueled gaze. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all, he was built like a god, had oodles of money, and had slept with every girl within a hundred-mile radius. He was the usual romance hero and she quickly turned into the typical romance heroine, who relished the way he constantly shoved her behind him to literally block her from any adversity. She loved that, while I cringed every time.
The parents of basically every teen acted just like their children with youthful selfishness and a complete disregard of responsibility. I was saddened by the neglect and the way it taught these kids that they do not matter and neither do their actions. Fortunately, the consequences were rumors and fist fights, when it could have been unplanned pregnancy, gonorrhea, and prison. My real question is: if these boys have no qualms with holding down a woman and nearly drowning her with wine before dumping her unconscious body in a hotel room, and Sam is cool with watching this happen to her mother, what kind of adults will this trio become? Are these psychopaths in the making, or just sociopaths? There is a difference and they are straddling that fence.
I’m torn and cannot decide if I’m disturbed more by the drunken teenage orgies, the abusive and neglectful parents, or the unrealistic show of wealth. Many readers fall in love with books for the escape from reality, but sometimes those stories do not have enough reality to keep my attention. Little hints at hidden depths in these characters did appear and I eagerly waited to see them unfold. While that did not happen here, I have high hope that it does in the later books of this large series. I asked myself if I have the energy to continue the journey of Sam, Mason, and Logan. At this point, no, but this author has an array of other books that do not juggle steamy-hot sex and YA, and I will most likely curl up with some of those in the future. Talent is apparent, even though it was trapped under the formula-romance storyline, and I am curious to find out if she embraces that somewhere other than Fallen Crest.
- Genre and general reading age – romance for those over eighteen.
- Level of sexuality – hot hot hot.
- Is there graphic language? Yes, but it could have been much worse.
- Did I cry? No, but there were spots that were a tad depressing.
- Did I laugh? No.
- Is this part of a series? Yes, the Fallen Crest series.
- Level of character development – This book has only minimal development, but it does have the promise of more.
This is not an easy book for me to rate. There were pros and cons. I believe the author has a gift, but this story did not highlight that. The editing that started to break down about sixty percent in could have been truly distracting, yet was only a small annoyance. These characters are predictable, but also have the potential to become more later. Part of me gives it a one, while the other is thinking more of a three. I’ll settle on ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars and tackle a different Tijan novel later.