Debut author Jones’ contemporary romance blends gothic, suspense and multicultural elements in a YA page-turner.
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Haring knows her parents assume she will one day marry Scott Preston, the son of their good friends and business associates. But Jessie prefers Rick Kenoi, the older brother of her good friend Elizabeth. Half Navajo and half English, Rick grew up quickly after the premature deaths of his parents, running the family ranch and caring for his younger siblings. Thrilled to discover their shared infatuation, Rick and Jessie must navigate a long-distance relationship, complicated by interfering family members. After a tragedy and a misunderstanding tear them apart, Jessie and Rick rebuild their lives on opposite sides of the country (and occasionally different continents) but can never forget each other. Outdated themes of prejudice, arranged marriage and inflated pride make this novel more closely resemble gothic historical than contemporary suspense. The motivations of Jessie’s mother, Marianne, who values social standing and her friendship with the Prestons more than her daughter’s safety, are incomprehensible, as is Jessie’s quickness in forgiving her. Nearly as baffling is Rick’s grandfather, John, who cuts off communication with his daughter. Characters are often frustratingly gullible; however, Jessie and Rick are endearing and sympathetic. Beautiful settings and glamorous secondary characters provide an enthralling backdrop. The young couple maintains a simple innocence despite the events swirling around them. An abrupt ending may leave readers’ heads spinning.
An enjoyable, occasionally unbelievable read with clear-cut villains.