Diverted Heart by Beth Ann Stifflemire

This book proves two things: that long distant relationships are a lost cause, and living in a small town can make you do crazy things.

What’s it About? 

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Texas summers are no doubt some of the hottest you’ll find. The heat encountered during this summer is not at all what Taylor bargained for. She’s at a crossroads between childhood and womanhood, rummaging through the emotions of first love versus passion. Two young men tangle a web of needs and desires in her heart. The summer before college begins, Taylor is thrust from her childhood home in Houston to an inherited family farm on the outskirts of Schulenburg, Texas. Eric, her first love, has gone states away to play college football. Low-spirited and merely trying to get through an expectantly boring summer, she is nearly run off the road by her new country neighbor, Maxwell. Ruggedly handsome, devilishly charming and everything Taylor seeks to avoid, Maxwell does something to her emotions she’s struggling desperately to interpret, as they spend the summer filled with each other. Boundaries are tested and the scales of lust tip despite hesitations. A final decision must be made. Did she ever truly love Eric? Is Maxwell simply a lustful thought, or is there more to uncover beneath the surface? One thing is for certain, this summer will change Taylor in every possible way: mind, body and soul.

First Impressions

After moving to a new house with her family during the summer before college, Taylor has an immediate attraction for her neighbor Max. She initially tries to stay away from him, but boredom, and the constant urging from her parents pushes Taylor and Max closer together. Pause.

What the hell kind of parents are these that they are basically encouraging their daughter to hang out with the hunky neighbor boy, and ignore the fact that she has a boyfriend? They have absolutely no reservations about the two spending more time together, and really seem to want them to hit it off. And not just in a friendly way, if you know what I mean. I feel like this encouragement would have been much more believable if they hadn’t liked Taylor’s boyfriend, Eric, but he seemed like an upstanding guy.

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Attraction Equals Trouble

The majority of the book deals with Taylor struggling with her love for Eric, and these new unknown feelings for Max. I guess what really surprised me was how quickly Taylor equated her attraction to Max as reflective of a deeper issue in her relationship with Eric, especially since things were going so well between them at the start of the summer. But as soon as she meets Max, and admits to herself that he’s good to look at, she thinks that means she doesn’t really love her boyfriend. Oh honey, just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean that all other men suddenly become frogs.

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I read an article once which talked about how a high percentage of people are already dating someone else when they meet “the one”. Therefore, I guess it shouldn’t be hard to believe that Taylor would have considered moving on to Max even though she was already dating Eric. I suppose what I found so strange though was that she started questioning her relationship with her boyfriend merely because of her physical attraction to Max. They hadn’t even spent a lot of time together to actually see if they connected on a deeper level before she started having doubts.

*I received a signed ARC of this book at BookExpo America*

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Series: Nope

Should you read it? It’s actually a very interesting tale of growing up, and questioning how you’re supposed to know if someone is worth the risk. How do you know when it’s time to end a previous relationship? If it should end at all? And if it’s right moving on to someone new?

Smut Level: There are a few sex scenes, but nothing too detailed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here– this book just came out today! $1.99 Kindle Price. Waldorf Publishing. 138 Pages.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Wow! Just…wow! Just when you think you know where this book is going it throws you for a loop. One of the most brilliant tales of unrequited love I’ve read in a long time.

What’s it About? 

never always sometimes

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school. Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

First Impressions

I’ll admit, when I first read the synopsis of this book I thought, “Well, we all know where this is going.” I assumed it would be predictable, just like every single high school romantic comedy book or movie out there. Hot mamma’s biscuits I couldn’t have been more wrong! It didn’t take long before I started questioning where in the heck this book was headed, and even though I won’t give any spoilers I can tell you that the ending definitely surprised me. That is a rare thing indeed.

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Oh the Shenanigans

In an attempt to break up the monotony of senioritis, Dave and Julia vow to do everything they swore they’d never do in high school. Basically, they want to try every cliché in the book. What follows is a plethora of hilarious shenanigans, and you can’t help but be drawn in by their natural chemistry. In accordance with this vow to try new things, Dave attempts to finally suppress his feelings of love for Julia by spending time with another chica in the schoolyard, Gretchen. As he spends more and more time with Gretchen, Julia realizes she might have feelings of her own for her best friend Dave. Oh the drama!

My absolute favorite part of this book was the promposal that Dave sets up to have the most perfectly clichéd invite to prom ever. I’m talking giant teddy bear costumes and orchestras here. However, the extreme effort and time he puts into this project shows that Dave has developed true feelings for Gretchen. How will these new feelings play into his love for Julia? And what will he do when Julia finally admits that she loves him too?

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Why so Brilliant? 

I’ll admit that at times the characters weren’t the most likable people ever, but there were several factors which played into the overall brilliance of this book. Firstly, the book starts from Dave’s point of view, but about 1/3 of the way through it switches to Julia’s perspective. Definitely an unexpected, but awesome transition so that we can actually hear both sides of the story. Then, just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, the last section of the book alternates back and forth between Dave and Julia. A ballsy move to be sure, but it worked, and provided a deeper understanding to Dave and Julia’s feelings.

Second moment of brilliance came towards the end, where Dave calls out Julia for being the biggest cliché of them all: the person who always judges the clichés. Sorry to tell you sweetie, but you’re not the only teenager to ever question the ridiculousness of high school cliques.

And now for the absolute most brilliant aspect of the entire book: everyone can relate to it. We all may have had very different high school experiences than the characters in this book, but we can all connect with this story because at one point in time we’ve all experienced that unrequited love/crush that Dave’s been suffering through for years. You know the kind. Where every look, laugh, or innocent touch makes us tingle with excitement. Where we pine for that other person, and wonder how we could ever get over that crush. Is this making you think back to high school?

*I received a signed copy of this book from the author at BookExpo America*

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Series: No, but if the author will agree to write a sequel (the college years perhaps?) I promise with all of my being that I will always, ALWAYS, put hot sauce on. Read the book, and you’ll get what I’m saying.

Should you read it? Not gonna lie, at times Julia was kind of annoying in her attempts to be quirky and different from everyone else, but there was something about the dynamic between her and Dave that I just couldn’t look away from.

Smut Level: Nothing too graphic. It’s young adult after all.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Harlequin Teen. 320 Pages