A contemporary romance-with-a-conscience presents three teens who have erred but are worthy of redemption.
Hot girl from out of town; hunky, vulnerable hero; alcohol-troubled ex-girlfriend; conflict and regrets…there’s nothing wrong—and a good deal that is right—with the romance formula when it’s handled this well. Emotionally damaged and painfully remote, New York teen Monroe is spending her summer in Louisiana with her wise and loving gram. There to heal after an initially unspecified tragedy, Monroe quickly meets local kindred-tortured-soul Nathan (“the pain that I saw there let me know I wasn’t the only one…who hated herself”). Their tragic tales emerge in alternating chapters; Nathan must deal with catastrophe or its fallout daily and faces it head-on, while Monroe circles around her pain. In their world, thoughtful, caring friends and a wise grandmother are better than therapists, and despite Monroe’s assertion that Nathan is not her type, hot days, Southern swimming holes, steamy nights and boozy teen parties out in “the bush” prove her wrong. Conveniently naïve parents and Gram’s upfront insistence on birth control create space for tender, consensual, responsible intimacy. Several layers of complexity (grief, guilt, the search for healing) nudge this toward the general fiction category even as it maintains familiar characteristics of the standard romance.
The as-happy-as-it-could-be-under-the-circumstances ending will definitely satisfy, and Stone writes it with confidence and style. (Romance. 14-18)