Just because I consider Derrolyn Anderson a friend of mine, does not mean I have not approached the reading of this book impartially. I am quite relieved to be able to give this book 5 stars, even though Derrolyn has assured me that even if I didn’t like the book she wouldn’t let it affect our friendship. In fact, so assured am I in Derrolyn’s own awesomeness that I feel quite comfortable revealing that when I first saw this book, I wasn’t interested in reading it. The cover looked like it was from the eighties and the blurb made it sound like just another romance novel.
How wrong I was. Derrolyn approached me before we were acquaintances on Goodreads to ask me if I wanted to read her book. When I glanced around on Goodreads and read some other reviews I decided that yes, I did want to give it a shot. I’d been burned by self-publishers and cold callers before, so I was a little hesitant, but I saw that some friends of mine whose judgement of quality literature I trusted and whom I could also trust not to up the rating just because Derrolyn’s a giant sweetheart had rated the book highly. I was eager to read it, especially as my favourite novel of 2013 was a self-published novel.
I have told you all of this because I want my relationship with Derrolyn to be transparent, and I am also trying to convince you that this novel is genuinely good. I know a lot of friends and family of writers often rate their books 5 stars, but this is the first time I have given 5 stars to someone I consider a friend. I have pretty high standards when it comes to technique, and I don’t have time for shitty writing. I fully believe this novel deserves my 5 stars, and now I’ll tell you why:
Cali has been brought up in the wilderness with only her unwell parents for company, and when they unfortunately die she is sent to live with her flaky, distracted aunt and creepy boyfriend, and attend school for the first time. There Cal meets another Cal, a motorbike enthusiast bad boy who only cares about his next female conquest. When Cali saves Cal from a brutal beating, he takes an interest in the weird new girl with the heterochromatic eyes and the mysterious ability to tame wild animals. The two begin a tentative romance, compounded by the fact that the man responsible for Cali’s parents’ illness is now hunting for her and will stop at nothing to claim her in his weird experiments.
Like I said above, the blurb did not draw me to this novel. It doesn’t mention that Cali can see and shape auras so I thought it was just a regular contemporary young adult romance. Upon reading I found that I was completely immersed in Cali and Cal’s story and read late into the night. I have a particular love for contemporary novels with a hint of the paranormal, which is how this book was reading, so that worked out well for everyone.
I loved watching Cal grow from the cocky, arrogant playboy to a concerned, mature, responsible young man, and I adored watching Cali kick all kinds of butt and navigate an unknown world without losing her integrity or dignity and keeping her wits and intelligence about her. Cali’s naivety was never used to comedic effect or made her look stupid, which I approved of, and her initial rejections of Cal were both refreshing and organic. I found their romance to be incredibly sweet and one of my favourites to watch develop. There was no insta-love and it progressed very genuinely. They didn’t lose their shit over anything and their insecurities were all familiar to me. I could tell just how much the author adored her own characters, too. They were lovingly described and lovingly developed.
I found the writing for the most part utterly enjoyable. There were some issues with dialogue punctuation (a particular pet peeve of mine) and I did notice the gaze shifting to objectify Cali rather a lot because she’s so wonderful beautiful and wonderful and unique and did I mention wonderful? The prose and narration was strong and the use of third person omniscient, while not my favourite point of view, worked in this novel. I found the whole thing absorbing and page-turning and I was frustrated with having to perform the simple acts of going to work and sleeping rather than reading this book.
Overall I recommend this to readers who like either (YA/NA) paranormal love stories or (YA/NA) straight contemporary romance, as I feel it has the best of both worlds. Unfortunately I believe the reason this book isn’t more widely read is because the blurb doesn’t really sell its awesome potential, so you’ll just have to take my word on how much I enjoyed it.
Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.