Emma Fletcher has always been a good girl, but that didn’t stop her from secretly hanging out with bad boy Derek Wade in high school. That is until she found out he was dealing drugs. Then she walked away. Now five years later, she’s back in town and Derek walks back into her life.
“I’m going to do bad things tonight. I can feel it. But it’ll be with him.”
I really got pulled into this one and quickly had a feel for where they were at in life. The tension and chemistry was apparent. The scene where they get high together….holy cow, I never thought smoking pot could be sensual, but in that scene it definitely comes off that way. The book was off to a heated start so I was a bit disappointed when their future sexual encounters lacked the intimacy that the opening one rocked.
"Even that little bit of touch makes my breathing come out harder. I gotta get these fucking clothes off and get inside her."
Initially Derek emits a kind of cool confidence which made him intriguing. But as Emma and the reader soon finds out, Derek has suffered a troubled family life. He has difficulty communicating and baggage from his past. While Emma is drawn to him and often feels as if she gives in to him, I appreciated all the points where she asserted resistance. I didn’t like the frequent message— of not asking questions and turning a blind eye— that was pushed on her by Derek and her sister. I really wish Sandra and Tony had been developed more as characters as they seemed to play a bigger role in the story. There were certainly places in Derek and Emma’s relationship that could have been fleshed out too. That aside, it was clear that Emma had a caring heart and was exactly what Derek needed to deal with his issues and become a better and happier person. The fact that Derek didn’t waiver in his desire to get Emma back was definitely crucial to the romantic aspect of the story.
“‘I’ll be whatever you want. I’ll give you whatever you want. I’ll tell you everything. Please, just don’t leave me.’”
This was a more emotional or sadder read than what I typically gravitate too, but it was very engaging. Readers with triggers for drug use and illness/parent dying of cancer will want to be aware that both play a role in the story.
There are a few continuity errors which suggested the story could have benefited from another round of edits. Emma relates that she doesn’t like the cold in their hometown and that, “It doesn’t snow like this down south where I go to school.” While their hometown is not specified, it is stated that Emma is getting her degree at John Hopkins. John Hopkins University is located in Baltimore, Maryland, technically in the geographic south as in it’s south of the Mason-Dixon line, but more accurately a Mid-Atlantic state where the climate is not much different from it’s northern neighbors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey—as in it certainly gets cold and snows there in the winter. Also Emma states her sister’s profession is a night nurse, but Sandra comes home in scrubs in the evening and then stays home all night. Later in the story, Emma states that it’s been 2 days since she saw Derek and then a few pages later she says he’s had her every day.
Despite these hiccups, it’s still a story that kept me interested. Told via Emma and Derek’s alternating first person POV, the mild angst and conflict revolves around their lifestyle differences and the stress Derek is under. It is pleasingly void of OW/OM drama. It also avoids the overused, sexist second-chance romance trope where the hero sleeps around and the heroine stays celibate. Yay! 😊