(Note: I got a pre-release e-version of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
One of the things I didn’t know when I was reading is that this book is classified as New Adult Romance, making it, technically the first book I’ve read in that genre (that’s been labeled that way). I guess I knew that this was a whole new descriptor for books now – post high-school, mainly college, generally still confused about everything characters – and this book definitely fits into that category well. But I’m a free spirit when it comes to genres ~ I read pretty much everything, so I figure whatever floats your boat. If the publishers had called this ‘just’ a romance, I would have been just as happy with it. Or a labelled it as a particularly steamy YA book, same deal. So it’s nice that there’s a thing to call these books now, but I feel like while the genre name itself maybe new (New Adult), the actual type of book is not: if you read contemporary romances or YAs that tend toward the steamy side, then you’ve read a New Adult book.
Anyways, back to the actual story: Pixie and Levi (and here I want to go on a tangent about name choices in books lately, but I’m just going to skip over that and stay on task) used to be two of the Three Musketeers, along with Charity, Levi’s little sister and Pixie’s best friend. But one night changes everything, and they spend nearly a year avoiding each other and the memories that come when they’re together. Then summer arrives, and Pixie finds herself in need of a job and a place to stay, and when her aunt – the owner of a local inn – offers her both, she can’t refuse. Although she would have, if she’d known that her new next door neighbor – and inn handyman – was none other than Levi himself. The unexpected reunion brings up a lot of things that both Levi & Pixie would rather stayed buried.
“If my bastard neighbor uses all the hot water again, I will suffocate him in his sleep.” That is the opening line of the book, and it gives you some idea of how well the two are getting along in their forced-to-be-neighbors situation. It’s a rollercoaster ride from there, trust me. I loved the snarkiness of the storytelling, especially since it’s told from multiple points of view – both Pixie and Levi carry the story along in their own way & the author gives us a lot of opportunities to see what’s brewing in each of their minds and hearts. There’s plenty of stormy material here – grief and guilt; hard feelings and bruised egos; jealousy and jerks; not to mention so much bicker-y banter that I really adored.
There were some elements I wasn’t too keen on – the obvious sequel bait running randomly through the storyline (even though I love sequels: these seemed forced into Pixie/Levi’s story to me), and there was something … uncomfortable to me about the way people talked about Pixie’s scar, as if it were a thing that ruined her: Even though this was mostly balanced by characters who didn’t think that way, there’s still a large enough segment of people who talked about it as if it were the end of her life, a thing that spoiled her forever, and I just did not feel that that was a realistic portrayal of how people actually think – at least I hope it’s not.
But these minor elements did not distract from the overall appeal of the story: the characters did stupid things, but they were realistically stupid things. Levi was an idiot about something, Pixie was oblivious to something else… against the backdrop of overcoming horrible tragedy, and somehow moving on with your life, those seemed like reasonable mistakes that young people (hell, any people) would make.
Plus, there’s cold showers, and blown fuses, and plenty of steam: What more could you ask for?
4.5 stars, because it was good, the author is new to me, and I like anybody who can head-hop effectively.