They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that's great . . . as long as you don't die.
Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine had it all: top-notch school, fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left.
Chris Charming has it all: a powerful CEO for a father, a prestigious school, and a fortune at his fingertips, but none of that matters when he lands a reputation as a troublemaker. Struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps, he reaches out to the one person he believes truly sees him, the one person he wants: Haley.
Little do they know someone's determined to bring the two together, even if it means murder.
I'm ashamed to admit it. I judged a book by its cover. With the name of the book being Chris's family name and a woman tied to a chair, I went to a whole other place with what I thought the book would be like. I wasn't even sure I wanted to read and review the book, because I assumed it would be erotic fiction with a bondage bent, which is not my favorite. Silly, silly me.
The inability of victims of domestic abuse to pull away from their abusers is well-documented, for adults as well as children. Haley Tremaine's mother died years ago. She had taken Haley out of the house, away from her alcoholic spouse (Haley's father) and they were going to pick up Jocelyn, Haley's younger sister, to move to a new house of their own. On the way there, the car was hit by a hot-rodding kid who was drunk. Haley's mother knew she was dying and made her promise not to tell her sister about the abuse, as the sister was the one family member the father still liked and she in her turn, adored her. So Haley became the target of the abuse, because she had the nerve to look a lot like her mother. Her plans of college evaporated, because she was afraid that with her gone, the father would finally turn on her sister. So she stayed...she took the abuse.
That would be enough ... if it ended there. But it doesn't. Now, I could go in to detail (I'm really too good at that), but that's not the purpose of a review.
Ms. Wade does a superb job with complex characters. People are complex, so I figure characters should be the same. Everyone has a public self and a private self. Haley's public self is a girl who has trouble adjusting after her mother's death; her public self shoulders wa-a-y too much responsibility for one so young. Chris has a player public self; in private, he's really a caring young man who is loyal to his friends and family. The 'bad guy' - he's got more than one public self and his private self? *shudder* Those commutes must really be boring, because there are so many ways the 'Big Bad' redefines twisted.
Charming draws you into Haley's predicament with many story threads. Some have cheerful colors and a silken texture - like the growing relationship between Haley and Chris. Some of the threads are rough, natural fiber - like Haley's relationship with her father and sister - irritating at times but it's part of who you are. And some of the story threads were rusty barbed wire - like the time she got a pink envelope containing her father's finger (the one with his wedding ring).
Sure, Charming is not about celebrities or ex-military or CIA. It's about ordinary people - ordinary young people. But it's as good a thriller as any I've read this year. If you like thrillers and YA's, Charming should be near the top of your TBR list. If you like thrillers, this could help you get over any issues you may have with YA. If you like YA, you will like this book ... and probably want to protect or get help for Haley, her sister and her friends.
Krystal Wade is happily married to the love of her life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. They live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day she wakes up to find herself stuck in traffic trying to get there.
The horrid commute gives Krystal plenty of time to zone out and think about her characters in full, brilliant details (she’s a safe driver; don’t worry). Stories give her a way to forget about the sometimes smelly strangers sitting next to her on the fifty mile trek into town (she picks up hitchhikers every day. True story. Check out www.slug-lines.com if you don’t believe us).
Krystal has been a part of organized hitchhiking for nearly fifteen years, but that’s just one small aspect of her oh-so-large life. When she’s not working, commuting, or chasing after her three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find Krystal outside talking to her chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training her amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).
(Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the author and publisher via X-presso Book Tours.)