I didn't want to read this book at first. Yes, it's true that I want to try more new adult books, but the college setting makes me leery since I'm only a year removed from living in that setting. Tammara Webber managed to win me over with a truly excellent love story, much to my surprise.
The book opens with our heroine, Jacqueline, very narrowly avoiding getting raped by her ex-boyfriend's frat brother. Her rescuer, Lucas, is sexy, mysterious, and everything her ex-boyfriend was not. The attack has made Jacqueline feel like a victim, especially when her attacker starts following her and telling lies about her. With Lucas there to support her, Jacqueline finds perspective, strength, and power against helplessness.
The relationship between Jacqueline and Lucas is simply precious. I found their emails and texts really charming. Jacqueline initially comes off a bit judgmental, labeling Lucas (because he has tattoos and piercings) as a slacker and a bad boy. To her credit, though, she seemed all too willing to be proven wrong. Once she sees him in the right light, she's eager to help him slay his personal demons (and he's got some serious demons). What I enjoyed most, though, was the fact that Lucas is protective. Not just that he's protective, really, but that he wanted her to be able to defend herself, and he fully believed that she could. The care he takes in giving her the empowerment of self defense is as emotionally impactful as it is practical.
Now, perhaps the only downside to the book is the fact that it gets a bit heavy handed with its message. Not only does it preach self defense and personal safety up, down, and sideways, but it also returns time and again to rape and how rapists should be treated--it's a huge part of the plot, and it's a little bit after-school special. Even as I write this, though, I can understand that their are teenagers and young women that can never hear these messages enough--they need to hear that rape is not the fault of the victim, that rape needs to be reported, that rapists need to be apprehended. Yes, I'm quite certain there are young readers who need to marinate their brains in these thoughts until they sink in past all of the rape culture we've been stewing in. For me though, I must admit, I got sick of it.
To sum this book up, it's a lovely romance and a nice contemporary story with awesome intentions. If the messages felt a bit tiresome to me, the characters made up for it by being adorable and sexy. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.