is a sixteen going on seventeen year old high school Senior taking
college courses at a local university. (Don't get Julie Andrew's Sound of Music tune in your head though, Blaire is no Liesl Von Trapp. Instead blast the Arctic Monkey's "Do I Wanna Know," the inspiration for this couple.)
Caiden Brenner is a twenty-five year old graduate student/teaching assistant working on his Ph.D and interviewing for an adjunct professor position in the following year. That age difference and her minor status might put off some readers. (Note: Caiden doesn't know she's a minor right away though). Personally I didn’t have issues with it. Their involvement under
law (where the story is set) makes it a crime, but other states have lower age
of consent laws. "Consent" is a huge theme in this story. Set in another locale, Blaire and Caiden's relationship might not be as taboo. And sometimes age is just numbers.
Blaire is fairly grown-up for 16. Her parents have embraced a laissez faire parenting style since the day her and her brother were born so they’ve basically raised themselves. Caiden, though technically nine years older, doesn’t exactly exhibit that huge of a maturity difference. He’s still a college student completing his degree and doing work-study jobs on campus. He’s not really living in the “real world” yet either so their lifestyles don’t seem very different. In fact, they share a common bond of unconventional upraisings where social, emotional, and financial parental support has been scarce. So maybe that’s why their age difference didn’t rub me the wrong way like it might have if the characters had been depicted differently.
I loved how the author addressed their “student-teacher slash minor-adult” quandary right off the bat and quite eloquently through Blaire’s poetry expressions and their Don Juan English lit studies discussions. This was done superbly as their coursework mirrors their life and raises questions accordingly.
Their chemistry is easily felt, their encounters steamy, and I thought this was gong to be one of those amazing, intense couples that really touch your heart. Had it continued to move at that pace with the characters falling in love as they explored the classics in a secret relationship, it could have been amazing. But then the story takes off fast, the student-teacher dilemma slams full speed again, and as it work towards the climax, it goes off the rails a little. I’m not a fan of extensive angst. If you love a full dish, then dig in. But if you prefer it as simply a small side order, then you’ll be frustrated with the plot as it advances.
Wherein lies the issue I did have with the story that kept me from giving it a higher rating —There is extensive involvement between Blaire and her brother’s friend Nate, and Caiden and his fellow grad student Hannah. This is also where some readers will need a trigger warning and others will be frustrated at the inclusion of sex scenes with other people rather than advancing and further developing Blaire and Caiden’s romance. (I really needed more "falling in love" and less "intalust" to understand why Caiden was willing to risk so much.) It’s a very sexual book; unfortunately, it’s not all encounters between the H and h. For my romance reading enjoyment, if I’m engaged in the main couple, then I need the sex scenes to stick to just them once they get together. I don’t want to see or hear about them with someone else, especially when it monopolizes a large portion of the book. And Blaire’s relationship with Nate…..well to avoid spoilers I’ll simply say that it would have been less revolting and better crafted if Nate was more of a gray character than... well what he was.
This is listed as book 1 in the Jail Bait series. I’m a bit curious where the series is headed. Getting Dirty has an epilogue, although it would be nice to see more of Caiden and Blaire together and without so many hardships. In this story, bluntly put, they are both crapped on enough ;-)