Young Adult / Mystery / Contemporary Thriller
Expected Publication Date: September 27th, 2016
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Willow Lamott’s best friend is a murderer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. For four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind Ashton’s mask of rage, she sinks deeper into his sinister world and begins to question whether he’s a villain, a savior, or both.
Ashton thought he wanted vengeance, until Willow reminded him what he’d been missing. Now he longs to clear his name and become the person she sees in him. But the closer they get to uncovering the truth, the darker the secrets become, and Ashton fears his return to Gilt Hollow will destroy everyone he loves, especially the girl he left behind.
Quick Reasons: adorable, fluffy romance tinged with just a SLIGHT amount of danger/star-crossed lovers; enthralling, though slightly predictable, mystery/thriller; there’s a bit ofPretty Little Liars feel to this book; Ashton is the most adorable bad boy EVER; fast-paced, spine-tingling plot; lots of drama and action
Huge thanks to Lorie Langdon, Blink Publishing, and Netgalley for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.
Let me just get this out of the way real quick, yes? Ashton is the most adorable floofball penguin of ever and now I want to scoop him out of this book and hide him in my closet. Of course, he probably wouldn’t be QUITE so adorable as my prisoner…so I suppose I’ll just have to leave him where he is and admire him through Willow’s eyes in the future. Either way, his relationship with Willow is super cute and stomach-churning, and I ADOOOOORED following them through this journey. They have a sort of… best friends, to somewhat enemies, to awkward acquaintances, to friends, to lovers…. thing going on in this book, and it was both frustrating (JUST KISS HER ALREADY!) and 100% exactly as steamy as I like my romances to be. I believed it–and that’s saying something, because most book relationships I find hard to truly “believe.”
That being said–the mystery of this book? Was sort of predictable in the end. While there were a few things that threw me for a loop, in the end I wasn’t overall surprised with how it turned out. Perhaps this is due to the fact we go into this book already knowing Ashton is innocent–he says as much within the first chapter. I think a large part of it, though, was just the fact that the mystery, for me at least, fell a bit flat. Of course, there WERE some harrowing moments. The motorcycle scene, for instance…and the threats being sent to Willow. These lent a level of suspense and gut-churning nerves I didn’t expect, and helped to immerse me more fully in the story being woven around me.
I feel like the characters also fell a bit flat. We see a LOT of Ashton and Willow, because duh, they’re the main duo… But I feel like certain other characters maybe got a bit lost in the long-run. Key players, especially, felt as if they were just playing their roles. Colin, for instance–we didn’t see hardly ANY of him, and his role is one of the biggest in the events leading to the ending of this book. I think maybe Lorie Langdon put too much focus on the reaffirmation of Ashton and Willow’s relationship, when she should have widened the scope to include some of the other important characters as well. I understand this is from Willow and Ashton’s perspectives, but… I don’t know. I guess I expected them to see at least a few other sides to their classmates, especially being the sleuth detectives they’re meant to be in this read.
I did, however, spend a large portion of this book BEGGING Ashton to get over his reservations and kiss Willow, already! So…eh. I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Willow and her brother, Rainn, as well–and her mom, though not as much of a focus character, was also fleshed out and made believable. While I’m not entirely certain I believed her sudden change of heart toward Ashton…she at least felt more “human” than some of the other characters. The family dynamics were interesting and juxtaposed, just like Willow and Ashton as characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this read immensely, even if I had trouble believing certain pieces of it. Willow and Ashton were adorably floofy in their budding romance, though a lot of the other characters felt a bit stiff and 1-dimensional. I recommend this book to lovers of mystery/thrillers, fans ofPretty Little Liars, and star-crossed lovers with a sense of reckless abandonment. I can’t wait to see what Lorie Langdon brings readers next–I’m sure it’s bound to be just as great!