FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours.
Series: Pepper Jones #2
Publisher: Self-Published on July 10, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
Pepper Jones knew that being Jace Wilder’s girlfriend wouldn’t be simple. But she didn’t predict just how many complications would arise from his past.
Jealous girls? That she expected.
Family secrets? Not so much.
At least Pepper can always hit the trails to clear her head… except when it comes to racing. The high expectations from her phenomenal cross country season haunt her, and she can’t seem to get psyched up for track season. Pepper’s junior year at Brockton Public is full of challenges on and off the track, but she’s not afraid to face them.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
All Pepped Up picks up where Pepped Up ended, with Pepper and Jace together but facing the consequences of both his past and his popularity.
While Pepper mostly managed to stay under the radar in the first book, she’s now front and center of high school drama. Jace’s previous indiscretions are coming back to bite them both in the ass, and it’s clear that the mean team of girls who didn’t consider much of Pepper before are now out to get her. My first reaction was that the things they did and put her through were over-the-top, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that today’s mean girls act exactly like that.
Running is again a huge focus of the story, but it’s such an important piece of who Pepper is that I couldn’t get bored with it. She’s lost some of her spark, though, either from the pressure she puts on herself or the stresses that come with her new relationship, and it takes her a while to get her act together on the trail. At times, her relationship with Jace is everything we want it to be, but he’s still Jace, still a bit selfish and immature, and their path together does not always run smooth. He’s pretty torn up about it, too, realizing that as much as he loves her, she wouldn’t be anyone’s target if he wasn’t in the picture.
Where Pepper was pretty mature — but not unbelievably so — in the first book, in All Pepped Up, she’s facing a lot more of the immature drama and teenage angst that comes with being in love and being on the mean girls’ hit list. So while her character hasn’t changed at all, we get to see her deal with much more emotionally and socially, and it’s an interesting contrast. For all her logic and wisdom, she is still at heart just a teenager in love. As for Jace, much of his growing up seems to be happening in this book, at a place in their story where he realizes just how much he cares for Pepper and wants to be a better person for her.
I certainly don’t want to give away all the details in a review, but I will say that All Pepped Up is a wonderful follow up to the first book, and Ali Dean perfectly captures the teenage voice once again. She puts Jace and Pepper through the paces, and they come out solidly on the other side, so I can’t wait to see what the next book in the series throws at them!