Man, who knew such a small group of friends in an unassuming Illinois suburban town could lead such dramatically complicated lives. Every single one of them!!
What’s it About?
K.C. Carter has always followed the rules—until this year, when a mistake leaves her the talk of her college campus and her carefully arranged life comes crashing to a halt. Now she’s stuck in her small hometown for the summer to complete her court-ordered community service, and to make matters worse, trouble is living right next door.
Jaxon Trent is the worst kind of temptation and exactly what K.C. was supposed to stay away from in high school. But he never forgot her. She was the one girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day and the only one to ever say no. Fate has brought K.C. back into his life—except what he thought was a great twist of luck turns out to be too close for comfort. As the bond between them grows, he discovers that convincing K.C. to get out from her mother’s shadow is hard, but revealing the darkest parts of his soul is nearly impossible.…
I really really really hate to say this, but I’m sort of falling out of like with this series. I can’t even say “love” because it was never really one of my ultimate favorites to begin with. I definitely liked book 1, that’s for sure, and my feelings towards book 2 were sort of lukewarm. However, when it comes to this 3rd book, I think I have to say I actually disliked it. Both KC and Jaxon come from troubled pasts, but that’s definitely not the reason why I had an overall negative impression of this book. Rather, I couldn’t help but feel that Jaxon and KC had a pretty toxic relationship that made me slightly uncomfortable at times, and even worrying for KC’s safety at others.
Love/Hate Continues Again
As is the theme with most of the novels in this series so far, our lead couple starts off with some feelings of animosity towards one another instead of love. Eventually, their mutual feelings of enmity build up to a boiling point until they can’t help themselves, and they start attacking each other’s mouths. However, in this book I was somewhat disturbed at a few of the ways Jax pursued KC. Let’s look at a few examples.
Stalking is as Stalking Does
Let’s start with the less threatening (if you can call it that) of his pursuits. So, Jax pretty much cyber stalks KC when she’s away at college out of state. This includes, but is not limited to, logging in to check her class schedule, grades, setting off pranks to push back a test she was unprepared for, and hacking her police record so she could complete her community service at their local high school where Jax just so happens to volunteer as well. Eventually, KC uncovers the extent of how closely he’s been monitoring her activities while she was away at school, and she is understandably confused and disturbed.
But then Jax manages to talk his way out of these stalker tendencies to the point where KC just brushes off the whole thing rather quickly. He explained that the reason she was so upset with his monitoring of her was because she doesn’t want anybody else to get too close to her. Umm, actually it’s called an invasion of privacy! You wanna know what’s going on in her life, maybe you should give her a call, or send her an email. Not hack her school records.
The Heart of the Matter
I suppose if you really want you could write off his computer stalking as him being overprotective, and wanting to check up on her. Whatever. What disturbed me even more was their physical relationship. At times, it was scorching hot. At others, I was legitimately concerned I was about to read a rape scene. There are many instances in this book where Jax pins KC up against a wall in the heat of an argument, and starts to devour her mouth in a passionate kiss. But there are also many times where KC tries to pull away from these ministrations, saying “no” and trying to push Jax away.
Now, I listened to this as an audio book, and the narrator for KC was amazing, but in these particular scenes she verbalized some very convincing “no’s” and also had an element of fear in her voice. For Jax though, it would appear that when it comes to KC “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no. It just means keep kissing her until she submits and says “yes”. The fact that at one point he even pulled a knife and started taunting her with it while pinned against a wall made me feel that this relationship has a lot of serious problems. Sure, KC would eventually always succumb to his seductions, and pull him towards her instead of pushing him away, but I felt like Jax must not respect her very much if he used intimidation to bend her to his will instead of talking things out.
Troubled Pasts and Vicious Characters
Jax and KC both come from troubled pasts. Her parents had her in order to supplement their previous daughter who died, and Jax was physically and sexually abused at the hands of his father and his father’s friends. While we aren’t privy to all of the specific details of Jax’s abuse, it was still definitely very hard to read at times.
His abusers are disgusting people with zero redeeming qualities. It’s heartbreaking to think of what he endured as a child, and how his past has influenced his actions as an adult. Jax attempts to push KC away once she starts to develop loving feelings for him, as he doesn’t want her to deal with his toxic past. Especially when his past comes back to haunt him, as his father has been harassing him more and more as his parole from prison draws ever closer.
Series: Fall Away, book 3. Will I continue with this series? Maybe, as the next book revisits the couple from book 1. It just might take me a while before I go there.
Should you read it? Jax is a troubled individual, and the horrors of his past definitely influence his relationship with KC. I get pushing her away because he doesn’t think he’s good enough, and we’re supposed to admire KC for sticking through all of this to eventually find the loving Jax hiding underneath. I still couldn’t help but feel disturbed though at some of the ways he treated her, especially when it came to their sexual relationship. The whole pulling a knife scene left a really lasting negative and frightening impression on me. If others have read this one and had a different view of their sexual relationship I’d love to discuss it!
Smut Level: Let’s just say they do some pretty…creative things with a popsicle.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 429 Pages.