I have a mixed view about this one. It wasn't bad BUT it wasn't that good..I mean, I was expecting more from the blurb and in that sense I was disappointed but then again, the story by itself wasn't disappointing just it lacked the luster and went along the expected lines and it wasn't a 'rabbit-hole' like I had hoped for.
First up - now I know that it's a third book of the inter-related standalone series. This is the first book I read from the author and the series, so for most of the first half I was lost, trying to understand what exactly happened with Keylee. I could get the gist of it from the prologue, but it wasn't enough. Her backstory had a huge role to play in shaping the present story, but it wasn't explored enough for me to completely understand what went down and what made her take up drugs. That's the primary reason I couldn't connect with Kaylee as a character. I knew so little about her and her struggles that I failed to see her growth throughout the book. I am not still sure whether the previous book speaks about her sufferings, if it does then maybe I should have started with that to understand her better.
Anyway, moving on, we have Carrick as her love interest. He is good and a likeable character but him falling for Kaylee and falling so deeply in love with her also felt too rushed. I couldn't see the sparkling chemistry between the two. They were nice together, but two dates bringing people so close still seems a little unbelievable. It was good to read chapters from Carrick's POV and also his family dynamics was entertain but other than that there was no such novel and unique aspect as such. It all felt too dry.
In that sense, this book is more like a second chance romance. It's not dark spare the occasional mentioning of Kaylee's past which is just talked about and never 'shown'
Nala- Kaylee's sister was an interesting secondary character and I would love a story about her. Kaylee was not a very 'dense' character and nothing about her stood out to be except her fierce need to protect her sister from Thomas.
Thomas is supposed to be the antagonist here and also the one who has abused Kaylee during her childhood and he barely shows up in 2-3 scenes and hardly says anything! I never got such evil vibes from him because there was depth to his character at all. I felt nothing for him and that dampened the reading experience for me. He is the villain so I should either be wary of him or hate him but in this case - I didn't feel either. He is a wasted character
The story was resolved very smoothly and convininetly without any high voltage drama but it left many things unanswered and ending didn't feel satisfactory at all. There was few nice scenes but so many threads were left loose and no proper ending was given to many characters like Thomas and Larry? What happened to them? Was Larry really a bad guy who never liked their mom? Was Thomas still the evil guy at the end? Why he did he pull that 'stunt' and what followed after that? What's with Ian( Carrick's best friend) disliking Kaylee? Did he finally accept her? Changed his views about her? Too many unanswered question that made the overall experience incomplete and lacking.
I would go with 3-3.5 stars for this book. The author has a very real and authentic style that I enjoyed but it's the story and characters I had issues with