FicCentral received a free copy of this book from the author (via NetGalley).
Series: Only #1
Publisher: Mill Creek Press (Self-Published) on February 24, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Grayson Ford and Emma Kinglsey—close since they were kids, opposites in every way. He’s the stuff high school crushes are made of, Mister Popular, and captain of every team. She’s artsy, cute, and not in his league, though fully aware of Summerland’s "I Dream of Dating Grayson Ford" support group.
I can’t say no. The girl’s had my heart since before I knew it went missing.
He hides a life of hell. His father hates him, his mother’s gone. Emma is his only savior, yet she doesn’t know her power over him. She’s the only girl he wants, the only one he could ever tell—though he won’t.
I’m stronger, bigger, more of a man than he’ll ever be, but because I ruined his life, I’ve taken his crap, his attacks, the vulgar nature of his existence.
Until she discovers Gray’s embarrassment, his humiliation. Emma fights for him, for a chance. Theirs is a Cinderella story that she believes impossible. But as the layers peel back, it’s just a guy who needs a girl in order to keep breathing.
My mind is already doodling Mrs. Grayson Ford in imaginary notebooks. He has no clue where my head is at… But, given that I didn’t see what just happened coming, maybe I have no clue where his head is at either.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
On the outside, Grayson looks like he has it all — good looking, athletic, popular. But he’s her brother’s best friend, and he can have any girl he wants, so while she’s been in love with him forever, Emma knows better than to lay her heart out in the open for him. But Gray’s life isn’t as charmed as it looks, and he’d do just about anything to keep people from finding out what life is like for him at home — especially his best friend’s little sister, the girl he’s been in love with for as long as he can remember.
When I saw that Cristin Harbor had a new adult romance book coming, I didn’t hesitate to grab it. It’s shorter than I would generally prefer, but remember how tied up I was over Sweet Girl? Well, I actually paid attention this time and made sure there was no mention of anything other than your standard new adult contemporary romance. No organized crime, special agents, fake deaths or crazy turns to ruin my fun. And I totally fell for it…
At first glance, this is just your typical new adult romance, sticking with the tried and true theme of the girl being in love with the super gorgeous best friend of her brother. It’s a good formula, but Harber takes it up a notch by not forcing the characters to hide their feelings for long. In fact, when it’s clear to Emma’s brother that she and Gray have a romance kindling, he doesn’t freak out at all. Finally a guy who actually knows and trusts his best friend well enough that he doesn’t go all caveman and threaten to ruin any chance they have at a relationship!
The seemingly standard trope is careful camouflage for some heavy emotion and the kind of awkward and consuming romance that defines teenage years. And while the novella length usually frustrates me, somehow this one felt perfectly paced. After all, they’ve been friends forever, so why should they skirt around a relationship when they both finally realize they’re on the same page? But Gray’s home life and his need to escape the dysfunctional future he has if he doesn’t make something of himself takes his story with Emma down a path I simply didn’t see coming, and while it’s clearly proof that Cristin Harber hates me, it also has me dying for the next book. It’s rather impossible to explain everything I loved about the story without giving away all the best parts, given its short length, but suffice it to say it’s an emotional ride right up to the wild cliffhanger that will no doubt have me first on the pre-order list for the rest of the series.