FicCentral received a free copy of this book from The Hype PR (via NetGalley).
Publisher: Self-Published on January 13, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
Life is full of choices: good, bad, and ones you can’t control.
Raegan strives to be perfect in every way. Varsity cheerleader, honor student, and proud granddaughter of Dover Lowery. By day, Raegan is an over-achieving high school student, but at three o’clock, her real work begins.
What happens when appearances are not what they seem? Will Raegan be able to hold on to her life as she knows it, or will she be left all alone?
All of these questions are answered with one night, one song, one story, and one boy.
Raegan knows what’s important in life, and she’s holding onto it with all she’s got. She doesn’t have time for typical teenage drama, dating, or making the same mistakes others her age are making. She’s has to make her grandfather proud, show the town that despite losing her parents, she’s going to be just fine, and pitch in at home so her grandfather isn’t stuck with all the chores. She may not be perfect, but she’s trying hard to get there.
What she wasn’t counting on, though, was Emmett. Friends as children, she hasn’t seen him in years, but now he’s back and proving to be everything she needs. She’s spent the last few years keeping her grades up, cheering for the football team, and becoming the ideal All American girl. But this boy she didn’t expect is becoming more important than she could have imagined.
Raegan’s had no shortage of tragedy in her life, but instead of going the predictable route — rebelling, acting out, making everyone around her miserable — she’s done everything she can to be the perfect grandaughter, student, and All American girl. Raised by her grandfather, her entire life revolves around taking care of him and making him proud After all, she’d have nothing if it weren’t for that soft-hearted old man.
What Raegan doesn’t do is date. She’s become that untouchable girl, friends with everyone but off the menu when it comes to high school romance, and that makes her a little more noticeable in the eyes of some of the guys around school. It’s not that she has no interest in romance or a social life, but she feels she owes it to her grandfather to do her best, be her best for him. And high school boys and the drama they bring simply don’t fit into the equation. When it comes to her emotions, she’s only got enough for the man who raised her.
But then Emmett, a boy she knew as a child and who reached out to her when she was a lost little girl having just been orphaned, comes back to town and turns her head. He’s not thrown by the fact that she “doesn’t have time” for dating and isn’t put off by the fact that she’s more devoted to her grandfather than to herself. It takes some time, but he smoothly establishes himself as a mainstay in her life, respects her determination to be the best teenager possible, and is there for her as a friend when she needs one. Their connection goes way back, though, and soon it grows into something deeper, a puppy love turned first love that’s as simple as it is sweet.
There’s a juvenile quality to the story that’s actually very appropriate. It’s not that the writing is immature, but rather that the characters’ behaviors are very genuine for that age. While there’s a tendency in YA and NA books for adult writers to make the characters’ minds so much more mature than any teenager has ever been, Raegan and Emmett felt more authentic. Sure, it’s strange for a girl Raegan’s age to pretty much never misbehave, but it’s clear that she’s clinging to the only family she has left, applying the logic of a lost child to the way she approaches life, and isn’t that the very definition of childhood issues?
If you’re looking for just another teen romance story, Southern Perfection is certainly not it. It’s small-town life and high school love, recovering from loss and relying on family. It’s teens who are still growing their way through life’s issues and managing to hold onto one another in the process. There’s an innocence in them that you usually don’t find anymore in this genre, making it a great read for both teens and those of us who remember what it was like once upon a time.