I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Mira Ink/Harlequin UK in exchange for an honest review.
OH MY GOD THIS BOOK I read it in a day, I just couldn’t put it down.
Mallory “Mouse” Dodge is going back to public school after being home schooled for 4 years following an accident with a foster family. In a coincidental turn of vents the boy she grew up with through her foster care, Rider Stark, is at her school. They reconnect after 4 years and learn who each other is now after they were split apart.
The characters in this is one of the first things I really need to talk about. Mallory and Rider are so well developed, I fell instantly in love with them, and despite never being an orphan or in the adoption service or anything like that I felt like I really connected with them. Mallory goes through such a wonderful growth, she really learns self acceptance and goes from struggling with the want to feel normal to realising that she is who she is and that won’t change. Rider is just… I just love him so much. He cares so much about other people and looking after them before himself, which isn’t the best but he comes from such a good place that I couldn’t help fall in love with him. The secondary characters are so well done as well. Mallory’s adoptive parents struggle with the loss of their birth daughter and how to look after Mallory. Jayden and Hector, Rider’s foster brothers are also wonderfully written, Jayden struggles with being involved in gang behaviour and drugs and Hector and Rider work so hard to get him out of it.
The cruel sides of the fostering service are shown so well in this. Some people slip through the system and completely abusive arseholes manage to get children and this is a genuine problem with the system. I loved that the book was about life after being in a terrible environment like that and reintegration into society. It’s not something often talked about in books, or in life in general really.
I thought the writing style went really well with the content. The past events were interwoven with the plot in a way that felt really cohesive and not messy. I was really well emerged in the story without having flashbacks taking me out of the narrative and getting confused.
I already knew of Jennifer L. Armentrout before requesting this, however I hadn’t read anything of hers before, but this would 100% be a cover buy. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and complements the story well as Mallory and Rider both use art to help them with dealing with their past.
Overall I would recommend this to anyone honestly. It’s my favourite contemporary read in a long time. The romance side of it was sweet and wonderful and worked really well in connection with the past horrors and the struggles of a bad childhood. However, if you are a person who gets triggered and want to read after reading my review or just in general would like to read this book feel free to comment or message me, my email is on my about page and let me know what triggers you and I’ll let you know if it’s in the story without spoiling it for you.