Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 15th 2013
Series: True Believers #2
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house. Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself. Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her.
Going into SWEET I wasn't exactly thrilled to be reading a book about Jessica. I didn't really enjoy her character in TRUE especially knowing she had slept with Tyler and everyone just seemed to be cool with it. So imagine my surprise when I found myself falling in love with not only the story but this very flawed, vulnerable and insecure young woman.
Jessica Sweet is your average perceived college party girl. My first impression of her was that she was kind of a slut honestly. After hooking her best friend up with an ex fuck buddy she seemed to hop to another guy pretty quickly. Jessica refers to societies double standard of men vs. women as "Slut Shaming". She thought it was ridiculous that guys are seemingly allowed to sleep with whoever they want while women are held to a different standard in the same situation. To a certain extent I can understand where she is coming from. I think it's ridiculous myself but at the same time I also feel that because of girls like Jessica, who offer it up so freely kind of negates their argument a little. I was so quick to judge her character but when I got to know exactly where she came from and what she's had to deal with I started to feel bad for labeling her right away. To be such a beautiful girl she was deeply insecure and I guess you could say she had daddy issues which is why she used sex to get attention from guys. She hasn't had a hard life or had to struggle to survive like most people. The daughter of a church pastor, her life has been relatively easy. Unless you consider the religious oppression her parents have tried to keep her down with. She felt like she had to be the perfect daughter and with parents like hers I completely got why she was so wild. She wasn't allowed the Chance to grow and explore what she wanted in life without constant pressure. After all an acorn cannot grow in the shade of a mighty oak.
When Jessica met Riley, Tyler's brother in TRUE I could instantly tell these two would have a great story to tell. Their teasing and playful banter was so much fun and only got better in SWEET. Riley easily became one of my favorite book boyfriends. Growing up in a house with an abusive drug addicted mother should have turned him into a hardened, cynical jerk but Riley turned out to be amazing. There was a depth and vulnerability that wasn't in Tyler. Riley being the oldest he's had to deal with everything longer and the burden of having to care for his two younger brothers doesn't even faze him. Despite the tattoos and hard muscular appearance, Riley was gentle and romantic making me swoon more than once. When Jessica ends up staying at his place during spring break and the dorms are closed was when the real fun started. Riley doesn't outwardly show his emotions so Jess is left always wondering and second guessing herself. I loved this about him, he left her speechless several times and it made me smile. His genuinely surprised reaction to finding out about Jess and Tyler was hilarious for me because I too found it gross and upsetting. I was prepared for Riley to walk away being too weirded out by it and the two butted heads about the subject but the way he explained it melted my damn heart and made me fall in love with not only him but at that moment I fell for Jess also. He was just an amazing male character.
The slowly blossoming romance between Jessica and Riley was everything I was hoping it would be between them. They had a playful friendship that turned into something real that neither of them had ever experienced before. There wasn't much of a conflict besides the internal insecurities Jessica seemed to go through constantly. She was so used to guys having a physical reaction to her and when Riley seemed stoic around her it drove her crazy. Riley being a little jealous and finally showing that side of himself was so much fun. I loved watching him make it known how he felt about Jess. Between Jessica dealing with her parents and Riley trying to gain custody of his youngest brother Easton, the two really pulled together and stood by each other's sides. Riley standing up to Jess' dad was a complete pantie melting scene on TOP of all his other amazing moments.
Once again the supporting characters including Jayden, the precious brother with Down syndrome added depth and even more heart to the story. Not to mention the ever quiet Easton getting a little bit more of a spotlight in this book really helped shine a light on this quiet character. I had a hard time letting go of the Jessica/Tyler hook up for most of the first half of the book but once I got inside her head and saw things from her eyes I understood how she felt about it. Plus having Riley there to take the focus off that subject wasn't a bad thing either. I think Riley and Jessica's story was my favorite so far and I was very surprised and happy with the way things turned out for them. There were so many things to swoon over in this book that I highly recommend it for those of you who enjoy a flawed heroine and a big hunky sweetheart guy. The TRUE BELIEVERS series is labeled under New Adult but I think they are on the lighter side even with heavy issues such as drug usage and a little swearing. Despite it being a part of a series I have the utmost confidence you could read it as a stand alone and not be lost.
“I think what we can conclude here is that while I didn't say them out loud, my thoughts were running more along the relationship line.” “Oh,” I said, though my brain had stopped functioning the minute the R word came out of his mouth. “So what do you think? The princess and the prick . . . it could work. Or at least we could give it a shot.” Kindle 41%
“Night, Pita,” he murmured. “Pita? How am I like a Middle Eastern flatbread?” Was that better than princess? I wasn't sure. “It stands for pain in the ass.” “Oh.” I wasn't even particularly insulted. I was a pain in the ass. I didn't mean to be. Kindle 51%
“What? Stick it in you after zero effort on my part? Bend you over the couch after five minutes of dating? No. I don’t try to do that. Because I care about you. I want to take some time and get to know each other and each other’s bodies, together.” He shifted closer to me, his brown eyes earnest. “I want to explore you and your body, not use it.” “Oh.” I wasn't sure what to say to that, it was so totally foreign to me. “But I want to have sex with you. Don't make me feel bad for that.” “I'm not trying to. I think it’s awesome that you want to get naked with me.” He raised his eyebrows up and down. “Trust me, I'm looking forward to it. But it’s like cramming a whole ice-cream cone in my mouth and swallowing it whole. What good is that? It’s over and done in a second. I want to really taste it, to lick it slowly. I want to savor the ice cream, you know what I'm saying?” Kindle 69%
About The Author:
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has since written almost fifty novels and novellas in teen fiction, new adult, and adult romance. Erin has a special weakness for New Orleans, tattoos, high-heeled boots, beaches and martinis. She lives in Ohio with her family, two grumpy cats and a socially awkward dog.