I know summer is supposed to consist of “beach reads” Those books that are fun and sexy lighter reads but I’m going to recommend three books that dig a little deeper.
Easy by Tammara Webber, What A Boy Needs by Nyrae Dawn & Spill Over by Jolene Perry touch on the topics of rape, abuse and loss that will have you on the edge of your seat but still have that heart melting romance we’re all looking for in our summer reads.
Easy by Tammara Webber
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email.
Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more.
Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.
Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations) ~ Goodreads | Amazon
Source: Copy provided by author for my honest review
My quick take: I think Tammara Webber is one of the best YA contemporary writers out there right now. Easy is not as light or fun as her Between the Lines series (which is excellent btw) but it still has that honest YA voice that I believe is her trademark. Here Webber takes on the issues of sexual assault, bone deep grief, self defense and empowerment.
I could relate to Jacqueline struggles as she heads off to college and strikes out on her own for the first time after a break up with her long time boyfriend. A traumatizing event puts her in the path of the enigmatic Lucas. I really loved the focus on female empowerment but it was Lucas’s story that had me gripped to the pages. I almost wish that this was his book. His story is so compelling and it ties in nicely with Jacqueline’s. At times you don’t know what to feel about his character or actions right along with Jacqueline but believe me he’s worth the effort.
Oh and if you think this may be too dark for a summer read – have no fear Tammara Webber can bring on the sexy:
"I pressed against him and he groaned into my mouth and wrenched his mouth from mine, breathing raggedly. "I have to go now, or I'm not going."
“He dropped the pad onto the floor and the pencil followed, his stare never unlocking from mine. As he leaned over me, I felt a heightened awareness of every part of my body that touched a part of his – the edge of his hip pressed to mine, his chest sliding against mine, his fingers tracing from wrists to forearms and then framing my face. He held me in place, lips near my ear. When he kissed the sensitive spot my breath shuddered. “You're so beautiful,” he whispered, moving his mouth to mine.”
What A Boy Needs by Nyrae Dawn
A companion novel to WHAT A BOY WANTS.
Jaden Sinclair knows he'll never amount to anything...so why would he deserve a girl like Priscilla Mendoza?
Since last summer, things have been screwed up between Jaden and Pris. He knows it's his fault, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to go a few rounds with her new boyfriend. He also knows he’s the loser his dad calls him, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting her.
After getting a huge bomb dropped on him, Jaden lashes out and lands himself in jail. Everything in his chaotic life is turned upside down and to make it worse, his mom kicks him out in order to side with his dad. Yeah, he’s totally a prize for a girl like Pris.
Sebastian, Aspen, and Pris are all going places in their lives...and he knows he can't keep tagging along for the ride.
The group has one last chance for The Epic Adventure they've been looking for: a road trip to New York, where Jaden's friends will be going to college. Unfortunately, the more time Jaden hangs around Pris, the harder it is to keep the carefully constructed walls between them so she doesn't find out what a train wreck he really is.
When the trip ends, Jaden has to decide if he's ready to say goodbye to his friends, and the girl he loves. He knows what he needs, but will he be man enough to go for it?
Contains mature themes. Some sexual situations and language. ~ Goodreads | Amazon
Source: Copy provided by author for my honest review
My quick take: After meeting Jaden in What A Boy Wants, I wasn’t expecting to read just how broken and damaged this poor boy is. The thing I loved most is that Nyrae Dawn carried over the deep friendships from the first book but really let Jaden shine here. Believe me that’s difficult to do when your following Sebastian Hawkins but she succeeded. Honest, gut wrenching, romantic and funny all wrapped into one What A Boy Needs is the perfect summer read. (Make sure you read What A Boy Wants first – it’s excellent!)
Spill Over by Jolene Perry
"I'm not in New York.
I'm friends with a girl.
I'm living on a boat... with my dad...
At this point, I figure anything's possible."
When an assignment overseas gives Antony's Mom the opportunity of a lifetime, she sees it as a chance for Antony to get to know his dad - a guy strange enough to live on a boat. Near dreary Seattle. Antony’s sure that the next few months will feel like a lifetime. He and his dad can’t even fill up a five minute conversation on his birthday call.
Then he meets Amber, the girl from five boats down, and his prospects perk up. But when it becomes very clear, very fast, that all she’s after is friendship, Antony wonders if he’ll survive the next three months.
He is absolutely. Completely. Totally. Displaced.
And then tragedy hits.
Spill Over is a novel about love, loss, and figuring out what’s actually important. ~ Goodreads | Amazon
My quick take: I sat up until 1am finishing this book. There’s nothing better than reading about a bad boy struggling to turn good.
Antony comes off quite spoiled at first but his life takes so many unexpected turns so quickly that he’s forced to face the harsh realities of the life he has been living and deciding where he wants to go from this point on after a tragic loss.
What was nice about Spill Over is that he’s not trying to make the change just for the girl but also for himself. Antony struggles, he screws up & he gets called out by Amber. Good stuff.
(One minor nitpick with Spill Over - there were several typos in my Kindle version but it didn't ruin my reading experience)
I should re-title this post: Mini reviews “the broken boys of summer” because all of the above books have deeply damaged boys. Despite the heaviness of the topics all are super sexy summer, beach worthy and will leave you with a smile on your face.
Do you have a favorite summer read?