By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I devoured the whole Ivy Years series in a long weekend, and I'm not usually a fan of New Adult. These books were refreshingly original and very entertaining, though this second entry, The Year We Hid Away, was my least favorite of the series.
I loved the premise. Scarlet goes off to Harkness College (think Yale) desperate to reinvent herself. Her father is a college hockey coach at the center of a huge child sex abuse scandal (think Jerry Sandusky), and in the year since news of the scandal broke, Scarlet has been shunned and abandoned by even her closest friends. Scarlet wants to make a clean start, but her family is leaning on her to be publicly support her father during his upcoming trial, and the prosecution's efforts to talk to her test her family loyalties. Scarlet's relationship with her family seems like it was strained even before the scandal broke, but she still struggles with the prospect of throwing her father under the bus. I was intrigued with the notion of taking a "ripped from the headlines" type of story and examining how a scandal like that could impact and devastate innocent bystanders.
Meanwhile, Bridger McCaulley also has a secret. His drug addicted mother has started cooking meth in the house, so he took his seven-year-old sister and is hiding her in his dorm room, in violation of about a bazillion college regulations. If he gets caught, he might get booted out of school, and his sister would likely be sent to foster care. Between school and work and looking after Lucy, Bridger doesn't have time for a social life, but he steals every free moment he can find with Scarlet, who is the brightest thing in his dismal life.
I don't usually like stories where the main characters aren't honest with each other, but Bridger and Scarlet discovered each other's secrets quickly enough that the initial dishonesty didn't poison their intimacy. Once they share their secrets, they help each other hide from the rest of the world, and when the house of cards comes down, they help one another to clean up the mess.
This was an entertaining read, but all three of the books in the series end with a plot twist that ties things up a little too tidily to be believed. This book was the most egregious example of that, which is too bad.(show spoiler)
In addition to the too-tidy ending, I wish that Scarlet's family had been more multifaceted. Her dad, in addition to being a likely pedophile, is an abusive and arrogant asshat. Her mom is an unfeeling automaton, caring more about appearances than the well-being of her daughter. This would have been a much, much more interesting story if they had been more complex and likeable people, such that the reader might feel some actual doubt as to the father's guilt, or have a sense that the mom, like Scarlet, thinks not only about the upcoming trial but also has some concern for the victims of the alleged assaults.
Oh well; it was still an entertaining read.