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The review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Courtney has already met and lost the love of her life. After that, all interludes are just meaningless relationships. She doesn’t want to fall in love again. She invests in friendship and has an active love life, but she’s not looking for anything super long-term. Until Max makes her start thinking that he might just be the next serious thing. Max has went through his adult life hiding the pain of his adolescence. He’s been on his own since sixteen and has no plans to return home ever again. Then he gets word that his grandfather died and is forced to confront his past. He invites Courtney along for the ride and soon realizes that with her by his side, he can accomplish near anything. Now can he just find a way to admit that to himself and make it work or will they stay friends and nothing more?
Courtney was a character I would have loved on principle alone. She’s not traditionally pretty, she’s not thin, she’s not the “perfect” girl we’ve seen in every other book. She has a bit of weight and more than once she is called ugly in this novel. And the best part of that? She’s accepted who she is. She’s cool with being that Jewish girl with the weird hair and the less than perfect face. She doesn’t compete in beauty contests or spend the novel trying to lose weight or diet or constantly bash her body. She’s an excellent role model and someone I’ll always try to emulate because I don’t know that I’ll ever be half as comfortable in my skin as she is. Beyond the loving her on principle thing, she’s still an extremely relatable character. She’s smart and driven and determined to do things her way and be herself, everyone else be damned.
Max is a character I’ve been fascinated with since book 1. I loved him almost immediately. The prediction I made when I started the first book was that book 1 would be about Nadia and Mr Hot Ginger, book 2 would be about Lauren and Max and then book 3 would be about Angus and whoever he was meant for. Yeah, I was wrong on that front. Lauren took a whole new direction and Max is really better off. Max reminds me a great deal of Lucas from Tammara Webber’s Easy. Bad-ass engineering studio with a motorcycle and issues with is past? But with a heart of gold and a need to defend woman? Yeah, definitely my type. The way he defended Courtney also won me over pretty quickly. He honestly likes her for who she is, but also happens to find her sexy as hell. I’m also always a sucker for the type who work their ass off to get what they have. There are weeks where all this poor guy does is school and work because that’s the only way to make ends meet. I know all about that struggle, so it’s always refreshing to read about characters in that situation.
Courtney & Max’s relationship is one of those amazing ones that is a transition from friendship to more. I love those relationships. That moment when one or the other realizes the possibility for more and really weighs the options of what they are risking against what will be gained (or possibly lost). The tension between these two was amazing to read through. It was exactly what I wanted when I started it.
I will admit that these are my first foray into Aguirre’s work. I haven’t read her YA’s (though I have the Razorland series) or any of her adult romances. If this is the level of awesome I can expect from her other work, then I plan on working my way through all of them. This novel is a break from the NA tropes we constantly see (not that I don’t enjoy those). These are real flawed characters, but not unfixable. They work towards the mutual goal of betterment. And it was a joy (and sometimes a sadness) to take that journey with them. I look forward to finding out what Aguirre has in store for her new rabid NA fanbase!
****Thank you to Inkslinger PR, Ann Aguirre, and Harlequin HQN for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****