Dear Ms. Fine:
I’m not a huge fan of novellas but when I find one that I like, it sticks with me. The tender and emotional young adult romance between two older teens trying to hold their families together stuck with me. When I read that you were publishing a New Adult, I thought that it was a perfect fit. And it is.
While I’m getting allergic to the word broken–which has become overused in the New Adult genre–I didn’t feel like this book came off as tragedy porn. Instead, through circumstances revealed late in the book, two good friends were wrenched apart at the beginning of a burgeoning romance.
Pixie and Levi were good friends. She was the best friend, in fact, of Levi’s sister and because Pixie’s home life wasn’t the best, she spent a lot of time at the Andrews’ household finding a refuge with her friends and looking at their parents as part of her own makeshift family.
At age nineteen, Pixie is going to her aunt’s bed and breakfast to spend the summer while the Arizona State University dorms close down and she contemplates what she wants to do with her future. She’s thinking of transferring to an art school in New York City and getting away from the sad memories her hometown holds.
What her aunt doesn’t tell her is that she’ll be sharing a bathroom with Levi Andrews, the summer handyman, whom she hasn’t spoken to in nearly a year. The romance isn’t going to surprise anyone. Because they can’t love each other, the outlet for their sexual tension is through fighting. Levi uses all the hot water up. Pixie shorts out the electricity so that Levi is left with only one side of his face shaved. But Pixie’s aunt keeps pushing them together and ultimately their feelings come out.
Both characters are relatable and likeable although Levi does engage in some slut shaming that he immediately regrets. Pixie’s best friend plays the ever familiar role of the outgoing, better dressed, enjoys to party, and sexually active girl. Levi’s friend is much the same way and provided some humorous comic relief. The friend is always talking to new people and ends up with a goat he babysits. But I enjoyed the friendship and how the two people in Pixie and Levi’s life pushed them out of their comfort zone.
Moreover, I really believed that this romance would last because of their shared past.
The two off notes included Levi’s parents and then the treatment of the thing that broke them apart. Levi’s parents completely abandoned him and it came off odd. I know families can break apart in a tragedy but how they came back together made their actions all the more implausible. In an effort to give everyone an HEA, the parental plotline came off as tortured rather than touching.
The treatment of the thing (so as not to spoil the story) also lacked depth. In part because the “thing” isn’t revealed until late in the book neither Levi or Pixie gave much mental contemplation over to the center of the tragedy. The tragedy is easy to guess but not how it happened. And it lessened the impact of their loss. It was almost as if they grieved more for the loss of their own relationship than the other thing.
Overall though I really liked the narrators and I would definitely pick up another Fine book. I could do without the sex scene that has the hero referencing her own doglike noises. He pushes into me and I howl like a werewolf. Seriously. It’s that kind of doglike sound that comes out of my mouth. B-