Dear K. A. Tucker:
I enjoyed Ten Tiny Breaths but I’m not sure I fully bought into the resolution of the story. It’s a New Adult book set in Miami as two young women try to make a life for themselves absent parents or guardians. Kacey Cleary moves herself and her sister, Olivia, to Miami after their gross uncle tries to molest younger sister.
Kacey is the only survivor of a drunk driving accident that killed their parents, her best friend and her boyfriend as they were driving back from a rugby match heroine and best friend played in. Kacey has shut down and hardened. She tries not to allow her to feel anything but in the years following the car accident tried to cope with sex, drugs, and alcohol until her sister Livie found Kacey choking on her own vomit. Vowing to live for Livie, Kacey abstains from it all.
In Miami, they move into a small rundown apartment complex where Kacey meets two people that will change her life. The first is Trent, a very attractive guy who lives next door to her and second is Nora Matthews aka Storm. Storm is a beautiful, buxom blonde with a five year old daughter. She gets Kacey a job waiting tables where Storm strips. Storm, more than anyone, breaks through Kacey’s barriers and suggests that whatever painful past Kacey suffered, she can start anew. And for a short time, Kacey wonders if that is true and begins to explore the possibility of a “normal” life, dating Trent, befriending Storm, and looking after her sister.
Kacey narrates the story in the first person. She’s damaged but strong. Her instalust for Trent may be the only jarring note of the entire story.
In this story of healing, forgiveness is an important component and that may rub people the wrong way. The message for Kacey is that by holding on to her bitterness and anger, she’s never allowed herself to fully heal. In Miami, this begins to change.
The real me. Who is that? All I know is that since moving to Miami, my carefully crafted defenses have been attacked from all angles. Even Mia and her gapped tooth grins have managed to worm their way into the cracks in my armor. No matter how many times I tell myself I don’t care, I’m starting to find my heart beating a little bit faster and my shoulders lift a little bit higher when I make them laugh.
But Kacey’s trauma is severe and Trent has a secret that places Kacey’s emotional healing in jeopardy. I appreciated that Kacey’s depression and post traumatic stress syndrome were treated seriously but without judgment. Storm is not just the stereotypical stripper with a heart of gold. She’s three dimensional. Smart and observant and ambitious. The romance Storm experiences is unexpected and sweet.
The real issue is Trent. Trent’s problem and solution to his problem are extreme and I’m not entirely convinced of the HEA resolution. I think the major problem was the ending and how it failed to show how Trent and Kacey could function in a healthy romance. Given that mental health issues were so important in the story, I felt that a better closure would have been to show us how the two could live their HEA. It’s a provocative storyline. Finally, despite the weighty issues, the pace of the story is snappy and the emotional low notes are interspersed with humor and sexiness. B-