SPOILER WARNING: Lots of spoilers here. Maybe ALL of the spoilers. Read at your own risk
TRIGGER WARNING: Child abuse, child sexual abuse, incest, and suicide. Read at your own risk. Yeah, all the spoilers are in the trigger warning, but people who might be affected would want to know.
It’s a difficult book to rate, because it seems to have two distinct parts. The first half is cutesy-faff; the second half is issue-based. The second is much stronger; the first is annoying.
Dean Holder. Especially in the second half, he treats Sky Davis well. A little too well to be believable, but this is a romance novel, so that’s to be expected. Thing is, I don’t believe he’s eighteen or nineteen. He seems like a man. Maybe because I’ve seen the cover for Book 2, and the model is clearly in his twenties. And I didn’t know teenagers were legally allowed to get tattoos in the US. Or rent hotel rooms. And how did Six track down Holder’s phone number?
Anyhoo, Holder bashes up things, and even people. He bashed up a guy so badly that his victim will likely be deaf in one ear for the rest of his life. Readers are supposed to think this is noble, because Holder was defending his dead sister, but I’m not a fan of violence. It’s not what happens to you that defines you; it’s how you deal with it. And if you deal with it with violence, then you, dear sir, are a violent d-bag.
He’s also a stalker. Even Sky is smart enough to realise this: “…you admitted to looking me up on Facebook right after meeting me. Then you insist on running with me, even though it’s out of your way. Now you somehow know how long I’ve been in public school? And that I was homeschooled?” But she still doesn’t tell him to nick off, so does that make her an enabler, or just someone who thinks with her cooch more than her brain? That’s likely, because Sky orgasms simply from dry-humping, with everyone’s pants on. Magical Peen.
I guess that’s my biggest problem with this novel. That because Sky has Holder and his Magical Peen, she can heal fast from the revelations that she was routinely raped as a child. There’s this Family Guy skit that explains most of my issues with romance novels: “All your problems can be solved by my penis.” If Sky was single, would she have healed as well or fast? That seems rather insulting and condescending to sexual assault victims.
And I don’t believe Holder has loved her since Sky was five years old. Do five-year-olds even know what love is? I believe friendship. But that Holder’s loved her all this time seems…paedophiliac, or idealised, or just plain creepy. I don’t know what love is, but I know what it isn’t.
Also, I’m not sure in which situation a neighbour’s kid would be alone with the police chief so he could sexually assault her. Especially considering Lesslie and Dean were inseparable. That just seems too much of a coincidence.