Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
I will admit that this book was a total guilty pleasure to read, and I can say that it delivers on the criteria that I’m sure other readers that like this sort of book are looking for. There’s angst, there’s the asshole male protagonist who’s somehow likeable too, there’s sex (like lots of it in the 2nd half), and there’s a satisfying lesson to be learned from the overall story.
This novel reminds me of the movies where actors into their 20 or even 30’s play high school students and were all supposed to believe that it’s actually realistic, because there’s plenty of boys in high school that look like John Tucker, right?
I mean, I wished there was actually someone as attractive as Jesse Metcalfe, but the teenage years are not always as friendly as we’d like them to be (This may be why America is so messed up about personal appearance and expectations, but that’s another can of worms to open some other time).
Anyways, the book was enjoyable enough for what it was, I became interested with the story with Ryen and Misha and their complex relationship. It was an interesting premise that initially intrigued me, and the reviews and book score on Goodreads furthered my interest to the point of me actually willing to give it a try. It’s self published, so that lead to other expectations, but honestly, it’s a hit or miss with those at this point. Some authors that go the self publish route are actually quite good at what they do, it’s just a matter of weeding through and discovering for yourself what’s good and what is just Twilight, 50 Shades, or other trashy fan-fiction.
I can say that this particular story is incredibly well written and worth looking into.
What It’s About:
Misha and Ryen have been pen pals since the 5th grade; their unique names fooled their teacher’s into thinking each of them were the opposite genders. Ryen is actually female, and Misha is male, and they discover that for themselves when they continue to write to each other over time. They live in towns that are side to side, and they talked about everything that went on in each other’s lives, each becoming a special person that they could open up to and confide to in ways they couldn’t with anyone else. They also share ideas and lyrics for Misha’s band, but they’d argue over a lot too, but one thing they always agreed on was keeping their relationship only in their letters; no looking each other up, no texting, no Facebook friend requests where they could see what the other looks like. They liked the anonymity about it. They continue all the way until their senior years of high school.
Misha’s band is hosting a party at an abandoned warehouse over in his town, and his band has a contest going on social media. He’s casually looking through the videos entered, and on screen a girl calls the camera person “Ryen” and Misha’s system is shocked. He eventually comes face to face with her, and she doesn’t know its him. He’s disappointed to find out that she’s one of the popular Queen Bee’s at her school, shallow and an exact copy of someone she’d complain about in her letters over the years. She remains in the dark on him, and they go their separate ways, when an unexpected tragedy crushes his world, Misha disappears and stops writing back to her…
Three months later, Ryen is still hurt as to why Misha all of a sudden goes MIA, but can’t open up to anyone about it, because she doesn’t actually trust anyone who she calls her “friend.” She knows anything out of the ordinary could have her falling off her precarious pedestal that she fought so hard to climb to, so she patiently waits for her senior year to end and so she can escape from the fake, plastic facade that she created and start over somewhere else. Things take an interesting turn when a new guy, Masen, unexpectedly shows up and seems to go out of his way to make her life a living hell.
What I liked:
- The Mystery and the Twists! I will say that there’s one twist that’s immediately revealed, not that it was all that much of a mystery anyways, but the author managed to slip in a few surprises that I actually didn’t expect; the one at the end of course being the most shocking (not to mention tragic). The mystery of the story is that Misha comes to Ryen’s town and stays there; he’s looking for something. It’s ever so slowly revealed as the story develops, but of course gets overshadowed by the romance aspect of the story. It’s expected, but honestly, I wish the author played up the mystery factor even more with Misha’s story arc. Make us guess more about the significance of the objects he collects, the places he goes, and the reactions he has towards certain people.
- The Chemistry! Ryen and Misha have a great dynamic in the story. It’s a whirlwind of of a relationship, and is quite unique compared to a lot of other stories that I’ve read within the romance genre or any fiction. While it’s not entirely realistic, mainly with the sex involved, the entertainment value doesn’t go down. It was fun to see how their relationship changed throughout and what they both had to do in order for it get to where it ended up.
- The Writing Style! It’s a slippery slope to go down with self published books, because it may mean that the author’s style or editing may not be on par with works that have gotten the traditional publishing treatment, but this author’s words flowed incredibly well on the pages and it didn’t feel amateurish or not properly edited in any way. It’s always a shame when things like that distract readers from the actual story. Penelope Davis definitely knows her craft.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Unrealistic Love Scenes/Dialogue/Character Appearances. They were incredibly hot to read, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’m not even entirely sure if it’s something I can say I even disliked, but I still think it’s something to critique on and point out. Spoiler Alert except not really…Ryen and Misha have sex…I know, it’s shocking to me too. Sorry for the major leak of the book…The critique about it is that the way it’s written is that these two have sex like they’re freakin’ porn stars. They’re high school seniors, Ryen even admits that she’s only been with one other guy once before. Somehow I couldn’t help but think about what was going down, tilt my head and pinch my eyebrows together and say, “okay whatever…” It’s good stuff, the author writes those scenes well, but it’s a bit unrealistic. Where’s the awkward fumbling? the embarrassing little moments that go with those that do the nasty their first couple of times. Either Misha watches A LOT of porn, or is just naturally a sex god or something….while only being in high school. Misha also is mentioned having multiple tattoos across his body, and he’s only, like, supposed to be 18 years old…How was he able to legally acquire all the tattoos covering? maybe he’s actually in his 20’s or thirties? Also some of the dialogue is pretty unrealistic, particularly with the antagonist of the story who happens to be Ryen’s prom date for most of the story, but some of the stuff he says is kind of cringeworthy, like, I know he’s supposed to be a sketchy dude who’s also the most popular guy in school (Think Bryce in 13 Reasons Why, book or tv show it doesn’t matter), but who actually talks like this? I know I said the writing is pretty good in this book, but I swear, these are the only bad parts of it. Little characterizations flaws that take away from the authenticity of the story, but then again…it’s erotic romance, it’s not supposed to be award winning stuff.
Overall, it’s an extremely enjoyable book for those who like romance/erotic fiction. For a self published title, it reads super well, and has some great characters to get behind. Both Ryen and Misha have their asshole moments, like, it gets pretty bad at some points, but as you read along, and see what’s going on in their head, it becomes a little more understandable about their actions. Justifiable?…questionable, but I still enjoyed the title nonetheless. It makes me interested enough to possibly check out other titles by the author.
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell