by Tracy Wolff
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Z (whose actual name we never do find out) is a 21-year-old world-class snowboarder with self-esteem issues and a death wish. Granted, he's had some effed up stuff happen in his life, so maybe he's slightly justified, though the people around him aren't for the way they've enabled his behavior. Ophelia is an 18 or 19 year old who is just trying to escape her past following a fairly traumatic event. Ignore the part of the Goodreads story blurb that says "But laying low is her only option after her ex, a rich boy who couldn’t take no for an answer, nearly killed her in a jealous rage." Because that's so far off base in its implications that I'm not sure whoever wrote it even read past the first few chapters. Every other blurb says "But after nearly dying in the same drag-racing accident that killed her boyfriend, she needs a place to heal, both physically and emotionally." They are two very damaged individuals who haven't even begin to work through their own issues and are either going to find a way to help each other or both have cataclysmic melt downs.
This is a book about a snowboarder so you rather have to expect some slang words. In this case, it was grommet that caused me the most difficulty. For the uninitiated, apparently this means a young boarder (the word originally applied to surfing). There are quite a few other words outside the common vernacular relating to the sport and/or culture, though those are either explained or easily inferred by context. I didn't really have an issue with the slang though. My issue is with the fact the author fails to realize or portray the fact that new adults are still adults. These characters seemed very immature. You'd expect at least a little bit of grown up behavior with the sort of backstories these characters have, but nope, zilch, nada. It is high school if not worse all the way. They seem to be attracted to the things in each other that are the absolute worst things they can look for in a mate. Plus, they spoke in a kind of exaggerated slang that I don't even hear junior high kids try to pull off. And if I never again read "As if" or casual use of the word "front" without meaning the foremost part or surface of anything, it will simply be too soon. I struggled through most of the book, snorting at all the ridiculous angst ridden young love tropes where magical hormones fill the air and twue love happens in less than a week, hits you in an instant, and makes you want to be a better person etc. They were just the same tortured bad boy with a heart of gold and sassy, damaged heroine who supposedly will not take any crap off the hero (though she does, repeatedly). They are cardboard cutouts of characters and there wasn't anything fresh or new to make them stand out or make me care, heck, I didn't even completely buy any chemistry between them. That is until the very end. So stop reading now if you aren't up for spoilers, just know this is a 3 star book..............................................................
I hate to spoil but this is what saved this book for me. They actually have a grown up conversation about their issues, it's obliquely intimated that love isn't going to magically fix their issues, they make a commitment to actually communicate, and Z seeks professional help from a therapist, which is what he's needed for the past decade. Not only that, but Z starts realizing that he's getting help not just for Ophelia but for himself too. So, I guess in the end this works fairly well as a New Adult novel, albeit at the very, very start of that journey. Fair warning on one other thing though, there's a really heavy cliffhanger to set up the next book in the series, though since it doesn't specifically involved Z or Ophelia, that to me isn't so much a cliffhanger as it is a teaser for the next book.