[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.
Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?
As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.[/quote]
This series is definitely one of my favorites–and this book, in particular, was really great. KA Tucker knows how to write drama and young love and heartache, but without it doesn’t feel contrived or like it’s mocking that age or those feelings. We met Livie, as the younger sister of Kacey Clearly in Ten Tiny Breaths. I knew she would have a story to tell–and she did. Really, she had a journey to make.
Livie is a very old soul–the tragedy she faced at a young age made sure of that. She grew up fast, and she always knew what she needed to do to make her parents proud, to honor their wishes for her. So when she sets out for Princeton, she has a plan in place, an idea of where her academics are going to take her, and where that will all eventually lead her. Her psychiatrist, who was the one to work wonders on Kacey, wants her to act her age, worried she’s not living life how she should. So, with Kacey’s help, they give her a series of tasks she’s to complete. The next day she wakes up in her dorm room, with a tattoo, and very little recollection of the night before. But there’s also Ashton in the room. And he seems to remember it all, but acts perfectly fine to forget it. That kinda bums Livie out, which also drives her nuts because she knows the kind of guy Ashton is, and he doesn’t fit into her plan.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Life has a funny way of creating its own tests. It throws curve balls that make you do and think and feel things that are in direct conflict with what you had planned and don’t allow you to operate in terms of black and white.[/quote]
She soon meets Ashton’s best friend, Connor, and they hit it off. He sort of ticks the boxes on Livie’s list–but something’s missing. Like the fact that he’s not Ashton, perhaps? No matter how perfect Connor seems for her, and how much Ashton insists he’s not the guy for Livie, she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. I felt for Connor, but Ashton was just my kind of hero. He was mysterious, yummy, would throw little remarks Livie’s way, without being overtly flirty, and that’s what I love. There was nothing boisterous about his behavior how he approached Livie.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]“Because you’re not a one-night girl, Irish.’ Leaning in to place a kiss on my jawline, he whispers, ‘You’re my forever girl.” [/quote]
Now, this is where it all sort of a took a turn I wasn’t expecting! In fact, it took a few different turns I didn’t see coming. HOORAY! I love to be pleasantly surprised. And I genuinely was. Livie and Ashton’s story was slower-building. They had great sexual tension and chemistry, and the flirting between them made you feel like you were experiencing it with them. The same goes for learning of Ashton’s past, and what he’s dealing with now. Ms. Tucker wrote this perfectly. The execution had me reading faster than my eyes or brain could keep up. I was smacking my screen like a madwoman, page after page after page.
I loved seeing the path Livie took from the beginning of this story, and what she figured out along the way. I don’t think it’s unlike most college kids’ experiences, and I appreciate the honesty behind that. She realized she was essentially living for who she thought she had to be, rather than who she really wanted to be.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]I walk away. I walk away from the voices, the shouts, the disappointment.
I walk away from my deceptions, my mistakes, my regrets. I walk away from all that I am supposed to be and all I cannot be. For all of it is a lie.[/quote]
For fans of Kacie and Trent, you do see some of them in this story, as well, and while you could technically read each of these books as standalones, why do that?
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.WEBSITE | BLOG | ATRIA | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS