Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.
Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.
Well, it’s the first time I read a sequel novel that did not push me to read the first book right after finishing it. My main issue on this: what was the heroine in the first book thinking letting go of such a special man, i.e., the hero of the second book.
When I first started reading this book, I thought this would be a fun book to read. When I was almost halfway through, I thought I liked this book. A lot. But when I was already nearing the end and seeing that the pages of the book are running out, I thought I loved this book.
I was surprised by the emotions that the author inspired from her readers, with the use of her words, her characters, her story. When I read romance novels, especially contemporary ones, I basically want just a few things, well-fleshed out characters, an interesting plot, witty banter, sexy moments can’t hurt, and a happy ending that makes sense. (Okay, that’s a lot of things but now you get what I mean.) And I was glad that Cora Carmack’s follow up novel did give all those to me and topped it all off with that one thing that makes a novel truly special in my books: heart. This book was surprisingly filled with a lot of heart.
It has the familiar trope of good boy-bad girl (Golden Boy and Angry Girl). At the outset, they’re just fundamentally different that seeing them together will make no sense whatsoever. But then Cora Carmack develops their story and the battles that they have to face to be themselves, to be together, and then BAM. They do make sense. Incredibly but understandably.
And I love the songs that Cade and Max wrote individually and that were presented in different times in the novel. They were wonderful not just in and of themselves but in relation to the characters and to their character arcs as well. I LOVE IT.
I love how more than their being together as a couple, the story is also about finding themselves in the process. And it’s always a great story angle for me to find in novels.
What I also appreciated is that the author resolves the issues not completely but realistically; meaning, everything is not roses and peaches and perfect.
Also, I love Cora Carmack’s prose.
“It was the kind of fear that made people jump off cliffs and climb mountains—the kind of fear that told you something miraculous was waiting at the end of it, if you could only get there.”
Getting there was the problem though. I wasn’t the climbing mountains kind of girl. As appealing as the summit seemed now, I knew myself well enough to know I’d give up halfway there, and then I’d be left with only the pain of the journey, and none of the reward.”
“Maybe it was because we were both actors. Maybe it was just because of who we were. But I could see in her eyes that she knew, too. This was the end of a chapter.”
And I love the epilogue. So much. It was beautifully written, poignant, and SPOT. ON.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars