Dear Ms. Sorenson:
They first introduction to work with the self published title, “The Secret of Ella and Micha.” I found the writing to be a little problematic and thus I didn’t pick up The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden when it was released or when it was purchased by Grand Central for republication. However, Mandi from Smexybooks began reading New Adult and fell in love with this book. Because of her endorsement, I requested this title from NetGalley.
Callie and Kayden are two high school students who are on the precipice of graduation and none too soon. Kayden with his football scholarship to the University of Wyoming and Callie with admission into the same university are in desperate need of distance from their dysfunctional home lives. Callie accidentally sees Kayden experiencing something tragic and rushes to help him. Despite Kayden’s embarrassment at being seen in this predicament, he and Callie form a bond that becomes stronger when they reunite at college.
At college, both characters have a chance to start anew. Callie was always the weird one in her high school, dressing in weird clothes, cutting her hair really short. Kayden’s best friend and roommate describes her as “It was like one minute she was normal and then the next minute she was fucking weird.” With the help of a new friend, she makes a list of things that she’s always been afraid to do and it’s not eating bugs or lying in a closed coffin with snakes ala Fear Factor. It’s things like wearing red or allowing her hair to grow out. It’s not hard to guess Callie’s drama.
From a craft standpoint, the writing, characterization and plot is much better than “The Secret of Ella and Micha” but there is a tendency toward repetition. I’m not sure how many times I read that Kayden wore hooded henleys and jeans that rode low on his hips but it was several. Certain words and phrases and descriptions were reused. There were some obvious editing errors that I hope will get clean up in the final version but I’m not going to reduce the grade because this was an ARC (although previously self published).
The story takes the romance slow as Kayden and Callie each have their issues and even as their relationship progresses, their issues hang over them like Damocles’ Sword. The foreshadowing that whatever small measures of happiness they find with each other will be momentary are sprinkled through nearly every chapter, particularly when a kiss drives Callie to forcibly vomit or a strong feeling leads Kayden to cut himself. Sometimes their issues seem too vast for any happy outcome so in the intermediate period, when they are happy, its bittersweet.
But the story is not without its humor. One of the funnier scenes are between Kayden and his best friend, Luke, who are often trying to out testosterone the other. One night they decide to have a drinking game of “I never” and rather than turning sexual, Luke and Kayden try to out do the other in front of Callie with embarrassing incident after embarrassing incident.
“Okay, I have one,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’ve never walked home wearing just a pink robe and a pair of slippers.”
Callie snorts a laugh as Luke narrows his eyes. “You’re fucking asking for it. I’m going to tell her all your dirty little secrets now, you fucking douche.”
“I have one,” Luke declares, shooting a malicious grin in my direction. His eyes are turning red and his speech is a little unbalanced. “I’ve never told a girl I was the lead singer of Chevelle just so I could hook up with her.”
“I’m going to fucking kill you for that one.” I reach over the table to confiscate the bottle from his hand. “You know that, right?”
He grins at me as I take a drink and look at Callie. “I was fifteen. I did a lot of stupid things back then.”
I focus on Luke, wanting to beat his ass. “I’ve never stripped teased on a table in front of an entire room full of people.”
His brown eyes are cold as he slams back a shot and then forces the alcohol down his throat with a jerk of his neck. “I’ve never woke up crying in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare after watching Halloween.”
But despite the lighthearted moments, the majority of the story is very grim and it ends on a major cliffhanger. These two have a lot of work to do to make a happy ever after believable, but I’m anxious to read more. B-