Maybe more of a 3.25 than a 3, but not a 4 in my books - it just wasn't quite my cup of tea. Which is a pity.
First of all, take a look at that cover. All sunshine and love and summer and happiness? No. It's not. The cover is a lie and it meant that what I read was completely different from what I expected. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
It wasn't a bad story, it was a good story, and the characters all seemed to grow (apart from Colt, but more on that later) and there were some sweet moment and poignant messages."It's over," I whisper. "I don't believe in you anymore."
Ashley is one frustrating ho-bag of a character. And she's super immature to boot. I found that I disliked her intensely after about 25% of this book which is a shame as I was really quite enjoying the story. And when you can't connect with a spoilt brat of a character, how can you connect with the story? She gets drunk quicker than anyone I've ever read before. One shot of vodka? Smashed. Four sips of wine? Smashed. And she has her own credit card which she doesn't need to worry about, because she's so privileged and has faced no read hardship until recently. She treats her best friend like crap, even though Mandy is just trying to make things OK like they were before, to cheer her up."Are you mad at me?"
I watch her collect her things. Her lips tighten, and I know she is. But she shrugs. "Your life's been screwed up enough this year. Being mad at you's like kicking a puppy."
Then there's Jordan, who Ashley is absolutely awful to. Her behaviour is disgusting - she even tries to force him into having sex with her despite his wish to stay a virgin until marriage. Uhm, if that was the other way round I bet it would NOT be brushed off so easily (see the Colt scene a little later on). Jordan is so sweet and I only wish that he'd ended up with Charlotte. But Charlotte's the fatty and so gets no attention. None. Even Ashley (until her "I'm a bitch, better change that" moment) doesn't pay her any attention, just laps up the attention Charlotte lavished on her. And poor Charlotte, she was the character I felt the most for throughout this story.
And then there's the dick. Colt. A bigger scum-bag you're unlikely to meet. I felt sick reading about him. He annoyed me and angered me so so much. He's aggressive and just plain vile, and I don't give a toss about the twist at the end which is supposed to make you understand him. Just, no.
But all of the characters grow, and they grow slowly. It's a real strength in this book. Some things may read like an over-excited teen, but the writing is mostly strong and the plot moves smoothly. It's slow building, with a great pace that makes for a pretty good - if slightly depressing - summer read. I think I'll give Leigh Talbert Moore one more go after this, hopefully she drops the Mary-Sue main character.
Thank you Net Galley for this.