Having spent the previous year pretty much focused on hockey and dating as many different women as possible, Bridger Macaulley’s life drastically changes when he realises that his dead-beat mother isn’t just doing drugs anymore, but that she’s now part of a gang that actually cooks meths at home. He takes his seven-year-old little sister Lucy out of there and hides her in his dorm room, while spending every available moment while she’s at school taking a double course load so he can graduate faster or working a part-time job to make money so they can afford somewhere to stay outside of term. He knows he has friends who would drop everything to help him, but as he’s breaking several college rules, he doesn’t want to involve anyone else in his illegal activities or forcing his burden onto someone else. Every spare minute he has when Lucy isn’t in school is spent taking care of her. He certainly doesn’t have time to date, but when he meets the intriguing Scarlet, he just can’t seem to keep away from her.
Scarlet is keeping secrets of her own. She legally changed her name the summer before she went to Harkness college and had to sneak past news vans camped out outside her home to get away to school. With her high profile hockey-coach and philanthropist father accused of some truly horrible and unfathomable crimes, Scarlet sees no other option but to lie through her teeth about who she really is and who her family are. Having suffered a whole year as a pariah in her final year of high school due to the accusations against her dad, she just wants to create a new life for herself, away from the demands of her parents, her father’s bodyguards and lawyers, the prosecution and the press. Accepted to Harkness on a hockey scholarship, Scarlet doesn’t feel she can play the sport she so loves, in case someone connects her skill to the life she’s trying to escape. She hates that she has to lie to her roommates, her new friends and especially the gorgeous Bridger, who she shares two classes with each day, but she also knows that if the truth comes out, she’ll be as ostracised at Harkness as she was in high school.
Two people with burdens far heavier than anyone starting out in life should be expected to carry, trying so hard to get through the days through a filter of lies, and finding solace in the company of each other. Neither Bridger nor Scarlet are looking for love, but they grow ever closer and find that the suck that is their life gets a little bit easier to bear when they are close to the other.
I really loved this book, even though it kind of hurt to read it too. Thanks again to Mrs. Julien for sending me the Amazon gift card that enabled me to buy it.