But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.
(New Adult romance)
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When I saw Summer’s post a couple months ago about this new book she was working on, I knew it was going to be one that I had to read. The topic was the perfect type of controversy for me, and while this was my first S. Walden book, I knew how well-received Going Under was, so I had no doubt her writing style would suck me in.
Good was better than that; it was amazing. I was captured almost immediately by Cadence’s innocence and naivety. She was SUCH an enigma. For someone in juvie, for what she did, yet so completely oblivious to the world, and really how it worked … well, it was awesome. Plus, I felt like it was real. I think a lot of teens make asinine errors in judgment, once, but that’s all it takes. And there ya have it, your ass is in juvie, your parents don’t know where they went wrong for their “good” girl to be so “bad.” Although, like Cadence will say, and I’m paraphrasing, basically, she didn’t have to change in juvie–because she never changed in the first place. She was still a good girl–she just made one bad decision. Anyway, I just couldn’t figure her out. She knew what she wanted, but she was scared of it, and still unsure. And seriously, she was the BEST representation of a smart, sassy, and AWKWARD teenage girl.
SO obviously, the idea of a teacher-student relationship is taboo, and what makes this one even better is the fact that Mark isn’t a fresh-outta-college twenty-two year old teacher, where he’s barely older than Cadence. No. He’s twenty-eight. TEN years older. He should know better. But what is they say about what the heart wants … oh yeah, it wants what it wants. If you really believe in loving who you’re supposed to, and not being able to help that, then this would definitely be the case here.
I think the development of the relationship between Mark and Cadence was laid out perfectly. There was so much tension, I could actually feel it. I felt like I was LIVING it.
As for all that happened, or didn’t, for the remainder of the story—well, you just need to read that yourself to get the experience. Summer’s writing is amazing. You feel everything that happens in Cadence’s world. It’s not just reading the words. It’s definitely living it along with her—and that includes her most AWKWARD thoughts and actions. There were times I was embarrassed for her. Honest to God, embarrassed. But at the same time, I remember being a totally young, COMPLETELY naive “kid.” So I loved that aspect. It was real. And true. All too often I read books where these seventeen year old kids are total vixens … and while that’s not totally impossible, I think this take was much more how I perceive young girls to be. Especially those who are inexperienced … and with someone much more experienced.
The chemistry between Mark and Cadence—HOT! The musical references—LOVED THEM! The supporting characters were more than that. They rounded out the story so beautifully. They both helped and hindered the relationship between Mark and Cadence. There were just so many great components to this story. It’s definitely a must read.
Of course, immediately after finishing Good, I had to message Summer and begin my ritual stalking of when we could expect Too Good #2. I know she’s working on it, but great writing takes time. And I am SO SO SO looking forward to seeing where Mark & Cadence’s story goes from where we were left. I definitely recommend this story—there’s something for everyone. :)
PS: I do have to say, there are heavy religious undertones in this book. It’s part of who Cadence is, but I do know that it might bother a lot of readers. I was raised in a rather strict, Catholic home; so to me, the whole guilt and fear and being good all seems pretty normal. But I do know that it’s seeming to rub others the wrong way. I personally think it helps to show another side to Cadence and what makes her tick, but also, it’s a different aspect to read in a book all together.
Up for grabs –> Grand Prize: Signed paperback of Good + $25.00 Amazon gift card / 3 winners will receive e-book copies of Good.
I was out on Highway 28 dressed in my juvie garb finest—orange jumpsuit with bright yellow vest—walking along the shoulder picking up garbage tossed out of the car windows of other lawbreakers. I’d been assigned to a community service-based juvenile detention center. I guess I wasn’t hardcore enough to make it into the locked-down facilities. And I should have counted myself lucky: I actually got to leave the building on work assignments.
Yeah . . . whatever. I was freaking embarrassed. I was embarrassed every time they dumped me on the side of some road to pick up trash. My long blond hair was pulled up in a required ponytail highlighting flushed cheeks that turned a darker shade of red when a truck passed by slowly, honking obnoxiously, its passengers hanging out of the windows yelling at me.
“Cadence!” one shouted. “Nice outfit!”
I looked down at my jumpsuit. It was unflattering, clinging to my petite body like a baby onesie, but I could get over that. What I couldn’t get over was the hideous color that washed out my fair skin.
“Do not respond,” Officer Clements ordered.
“I wasn’t going to,” I mumbled, stabbing a Styrofoam cup with my trash stick.
“What was that?” Officer Clements asked, towering over me.
“Nothing, ma’am,” I replied, and continued my work. Just one more month, I thought, walking and jabbing, walking and jabbing.
I didn’t realize I had walked and jabbed my way down the road next to a car parked on the side, hoisted up on a jack. It was an old black Volkswagen, its owner a young man bent over changing a flat tire. Trash was littered about his work area, and I wasn’t sure if I should pick it up. But he seemed so wholly concentrated on screwing in the bolts that I was positive he’d take no notice of me.
I speared a burger wrapper near the back of the tire, and his face shot up.
My immediate reaction was to turn and run. I was afraid. I remembered a discussion in youth group a while back about angels and how every time they’re mentioned in the Bible, the first thing they say is, “Do not be afraid.” My youth pastor said that this was because angels were scary looking—eyes all over their bodies and under their wings. First of all, how did he know what an angel looked like? And second, why would God make his angels look like a bunch of freaks?
No. I didn’t think angels looked like that at all. I thought they looked like perfect symmetry, and that’s what scared the hell out of people. A form too beautiful to look upon. Like this young man bent over his tire, staring at my orange jumpsuit and trash stick, wondering what a little girl like me could have done to land in juvenile hall. Because I was little, after all. I stood at 5-foot-2 and weighed 100 pounds.
“I’ll be out of your way in a minute,” he said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand.
I nodded and watched him finish tightening the bolts, then stand and stretch his back. He wore the male version of skinny jeans and a black T-shirt that read “Midnight in a Perfect World” across the front in stark white letters. He sported red Converse All Stars, and a bunch of braided bands of various colors were wrapped around his left wrist. His black wavy hair stuck out in all directions, and I couldn’t tell if it was by nature’s blessing or hair product. I hoped it was natural. I didn’t want to think he spent a lot of time styling his hair.
He smiled at me, revealing soft dimples on both cheeks. I smiled back. His eyes were light. Good combination, I thought. Dark hair, light eyes. He was sexy. No doubt about that. Tall and lean. He looked like an intellectual. I figured he was some scholarly Emory University boy. Probably a philosophy major, I thought, smirking. I imagined he sat around chatting about existentialism with his hipster friends in some dive coffee shop (never Starbucks) sipping cappuccinos.
He stood at the trunk of his car putting away his tools and turned around when he heard me.
“What’s funny?” he asked. The smile still lingered on his mouth. “Did I split my pants or something?” He strained his head to look behind him at the butt of his jeans.
I laughed harder. “No. You didn’t split your pants.” I tried not to look at his butt.
“Phew!” he replied. “You know, I’ve done that in the past. Squatted on the ground to change a tire, and rip! Right down the middle. I happened to be on a date at the time.”
“No!” I cried, feeling just the slightest bit sorry for this stranger.
“Well, the date was on shaky ground once the tire popped. The pants-splitting sealed the deal, though. I guess she equated both of those things with ‘loser’ or ‘no money’,” he said.
“That’s awful,” I replied.
“Atlanta women are tough,” he went on, leaning against the trunk of his car. He looked me over and grinned.
“No, I’m not tough,” I replied to his unspoken question. “Don’t let the jumpsuit fool you.”
He shook his head. “What in God’s name could a little thing like you have done to wind up in juvie?”
I tensed. His demeanor. The way he talked to me. Like he’d known me for years. And he used “little thing” like a term of endearment. I knew I wasn’t imagining it. He did.
I opened my mouth to reply then shuddered at the sound of my name.
“Cadence Miller!” Officer Clements yelled.
“Shit,” I whispered, and turned around.
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ABOUT S. WALDEN:
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at email@example.com.