I believe it is safe to say that Katie McGarry can write a contemporary novel. I will forever praise her for the Thunder Road series (Oz and Emily, anyone? swoon) But I digress. While I do enjoy a good contemporary swoon worthy story, this one was just a little too dark and gritty for me.
This is the story of Elle and Drix and these two people could not be more different or from different backgrounds if they tried. Elle is the daughter of a well known politician who is in the middle of an election and she is part of his campaign team that travels with her father everywhere. She has never wanted for anything in her life, other than for her parents to let her run her own life. She silently rebels when and where she can, mainly by bringing stray animals home to take care of them. She is also known for not sticking through with many extra-curricular activities, such as any sport or school program. She still has aspirations of landing an internship with a technology company to learn coding. Drix has a troubled past with the law, serving time for a crime he did not commit. Before he was arrested, he did whatever he could to “get a rush”. He was hot headed, short tempered, and quick to speak with his fists. He got into drinking and drugs, neither of which mixed with his quick temper. He did finally learn to find his calm and look at the world differently. He lost his temper and chose to approach everything with a new frame of mind, one that did not include violence. After he is released, Elle’s father makes Drix the poster child for his new reform program. which means Elle and Drix spend a lot of time together. It is no secret that they quickly fall for each other, learning that the other is exactly what they have needed to help balance the other out. Not everything is puppies and rainbows for these two, they both have dark demons they are battling but thankfully they are strong enough to help each other out when things seem too tough.
I really did like these characters. Elle was so quirky, snarky, and a little bit badass. I wish I could have been friends with her in real life. She was not quick to back down from anyone or anything, yet she could only do so much because of who her father was. I was not a fan of her parents. I’m not sure I was supposed to. I never felt they really cared about her or were do anything that was in her best interest. It was always about what was best for her father and his political status. I found myself cheering Elle on, hoping she could get that one chance to spread her wings. Now Drix… who doesn’t love the idea of a rough and gruff guy who also was not afraid to defend those he cared about? He knew how to protect himself but he wasn’t cocky about it. The banter these two had together was so much fun! If the dialogue alone doesn’t suck you in, the chemistry between Elle and Drix will.
While the romance is great, there is a strong underlying theme within this story: the importance of friendship and family (both in the traditional and non-traditional sense). Elle has her family and I have mentioned how horrible her parents are, she does have her brother. Although her brother-type-figure is enlisted in the military, she does have a strong bond/connection with him that transcends distance. No matter where he is, he always takes the time to call Elle. That is so important because that is one constant Elle has in her family. Drix has something similar. He had a very rough childhood and even rougher life has a teenager. Throughout it all he has had his eldest brother and half-sister. Those two have been his constant through everything. Elle and Drix would not have made it through the darkest times in their lives without their family and friends.
While all of the above really is great, there was something about this story that made me not love it as much as I wanted. Maybe it was because I felt the overall story was predictable or cliche. By cliche I mean sexy bad boy falls for super nice and hot girl that is ‘out of his league’. That is basically what this story was. Drix was a criminal and Elle was a spoiled princess that never acted stupid. I like those stories but maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to truly appreciate this story. Either way, I liked this but did not love it. It was just middle of the road for me.
Outside of all of that, this was a decent story. I liked the them of how important friends and family are, along with trust and communication. I like how these characters stayed true to who they were and did all that they did for those that they cared about. It felt real at times when it talked about social status, teenage violence, incarceration, political agendas, and the ability to rise above a bad situation. I do hope you give it a chance if you have not already read this. If you have, let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think.