FicCentral received a free copy of this book from *the author*.
Series: Toby & Claudia #1
January 29, 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Loving someone through their hard fall from grace takes a lot of grit.
Hired on as a caretaker to the ailing Mrs. Faye, Claudia Chiatmetti is drawn into the lives of the widow and her son — a world where sadness lingers and old wounds run deep. Empathetic to the family's plight, Claudia is powerless against the emerging feelings she has for the unruly Toby Faye. Up close, Toby’s blue-grey eyes expose a need she cannot ignore. His dark past will test her fortitude and expose her to danger. Does Claudia have the grit to love Toby through it?
Saving Toby is a powerful and moving debut novel set on the south shore of Long Island. It is the first book of a two-part story that follows the emotional and inspirational tale of a young couple's journey to find themselves.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
When Claudia accepts a job caring for the frail Mrs. Fray, she isn’t sure what to expect — other than her father’s disapproval. After all, she’s got one son in prison for murder, a late husband who killed a couple while driving drunk, and another son who isn’t exactly known for staying out of trouble. But she definitely doesn’t expect to fall in love with him.
Toby hasn’t had it easy. The father his mother adored is the one he remembers as drunk and violent, and the older brother who should have protected him wasn’t much better. In fact, if his mother wasn’t sick, he’d probably still be a thousand miles away, far from the memories of a broken upbringing and the judgmental looks from everyone in town. But for all his problems, he can’t leave his mother alone. And he can’t take his eyes off the beautiful girl taking care of her, even if she’s way too good for someone like him.
With our book review schedule so filled up, it took me a while to get to this one, and within the first chapter, I was kicking myself for waiting. On the surface, the characters and setting are so unfamiliar to me that I shouldn’t have been able to fall into the story so easily. Life north of the Red River is a foreign concept for me, with characters whose lives are altogether different than anything I’ve known. Their usual way of speaking is like another language, and there’s a culture there that I simply don’t understand. These characters definitely aren’t on a farm in Texas. But damned if I didn’t get so hooked that it was impossible to put the book down.
Claudia is good and responsible, planning out every step of her life and beginning to push back against the overprotective father who’s reluctant to let her make her own decisions. She’s got her career plans mapped out, her application in to USC, and a new job to carry her over until she packs up to get her degree in California.
Toby is the kind of boy her father always warned her about. More than just your romance novel bad boy, he’s got an ugly past and a future that doesn’t look much better. He’s not just a heart of gold wrapped up in bad decisions. Toby has a mean streak, an itch to brawl, and the kind of friends that make enemies look pleasant. But Claudia piques his interest in a way no other girl has, and he finds himself doing everything he can to make her give him a chance.
There were so many times Saving Toby could have easily turned into just another star-crossed lovers story. Toby could have quickly become a better man for Claudia. She could have given him a chance too soon. They could have worked through everything too easily, and their problems could have simply been erased with some perfectly-timed twist of fate. Instead, they took the more realistic route, the one that had him screwing up and her holding him off and them both dealing with the kind of angst that makes people say awful things. It honestly had me wondering if they were ever going to get through it and find some kind of happily ever after, and that’s what I loved about it. There was no way of easily guessing what would happen next, even if I was hoping for it — I couldn’t even bring myself to skip to the end for fear of ruining the journey.
Saving Toby is a heartfelt coming-of-age story about two very different people finding a relationship they never expected and trying to hold onto it through everything life at that age brings. It’s sweet and angsty and frustrating and believable, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.