*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*
I feel awful for how long it took me to read this book. It wasn’t this book’s fault at all, I have been dealing with a massive slump where I start books but can’t bring myself to finish them because I want to be doing something else besides read. But, at long last, I forced myself to sit still and finish this book. Which turned out to be not so hard to do, as soon as I picked it up again, I was enamored with the events that played out.
This is the third book in the series but it can definitely be read as a standalone due to it being a prequel to previous two stories and focusing on completely different characters.
We follow our main character, Vanessa (V, as she likes to be called), while she’s in high school and goes through mostly normal teenage experiences. My heart went out to her a couple times and I actually teared up after a certain confrontation; her pain was raw enough to make my heart ache. I seriously loved her passion for design. It was incredibly believable and it filled my heart with warmth. I don’t read many characters with this passion but I could relate to it completely. An interior designer is one of the many things I wish I could be and I enjoyed being in V’s head whenever the topic came up. Some of the things she did irritated me to no end but it’s to be expected since characters aren’t perfect. Those moments didn’t impact the growing respect and pride I had for her in the end. V wasn’t afraid to speak her mind for the most part and I loved that about her.
Then there is Luke. This book made me see Luke with an entire different appreciation than I used to. Before this book, he was just a good character I knew about but he has become an absolute favorite of mine. He’s respectful, loyal, hilarious, flirty, and so many other things that made me wear an almost-permanent smile on my face whenever he appeared. He made me giddy with the things he said and my respect for him kept soaring to new heights. He isn’t the type to let others walk all over him, even if he loves them, and he’s upfront about what he knows is right or wrong.
I loved how I didn’t just relate to the main character, but to both of these two. This rarely happens but I am so glad it did. With Luke, I could relate to simple things, such as his love for chips over candy and to heavy things, like his refusal to be walked all over. I could not love the chemistry between these two any more than I already do. I felt it to my core from the very beginning and it’s one of the fictional couples I completely stand behind. I was rooting for them from day one and will be until forever. Their banter was phenomenal and made me cry from laughing so hard. And yes, they do have their flaws, they aren’t as perfect as they might sound, but that is why I loved them so much.
After reading this couple’s origin story, I swear I can NOT choose who was my favorite out of the two in this series. I loved each one in their own way and they each brought their own unique experiences into the mix. I miss both of these relationships so much already, I just hope Nicole never stops writing about them… I can dream!
This story was an incredible and perfect blend of humor, heaviness, love, betrayal, happiness, and so much more. Nicole succeeded in creating characters that made me completely forget they were fictional and felt as genuine as they come. I will always sport a smile when I look back to these books.