Series: Ten Tiny Breaths # 1
Published by Atria Books on February 12, 2013
Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.
Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.
For something a little light-hearted before I get into why this book made me so angry, I’m going to list out just a few examples of the author’s depictions of the various ways her characters stare at others’ bodies:
- “Trent smirks as his eyes gaze over my body, stopping to survey the tattoo on my thigh for a moment before flittering back up to my face.”
- “His eyes shamelessly take in my body.”
- “A lusty gaze wanders over my frame again.”
- “His eyes skim my arms now…”
- “Still, I feel eyes on me, drifting over my curves, sizing me up…”
- “His gaze lingers too long on my cleavage”.
- “The little bald man’s eyes bug out, riveted by Storm’s ass.”
- “Lewd eyes drift over my chest and back up.”
- “Bright blue eyes, spilling over my body, settling on my chest for a long moment.”
- “He gives Livie another quick once-over.”
- “My gaze moves up and down the length of his gorgeous, hard torso, stopping at his belt.”
- “Officer Dan sizes Trent up…”
I was initially kind of OK with this story, but when Trent is introduced, he seemed to fall into that
category of obnoxious NA men: smarmy, arrogant, sexually aggressive, and a creepy stalker. Kacey gets a job as a bartender at a strip club (don’t ask), and Trent comes in every night alone and sits and watches Kacey. But he ignores the strippers who throw themselves at him, so it’s charming! Keep in mind that he starts this behavior very soon after meeting Kacey. Kacey also demonstrates her own charm by fantasizing about “ripping the guts out” of one of these strippers.
I know that there are plenty of readers who like this kind of guy because books like this sell well, but give me a nice, normal guy! I promise I will read, and most likely enjoy, a book without a character who treats women like a possession.
All of these people were distasteful to me, but as Trent became less stalker-ish and Kacey started to soften, I began to tolerate them. But then Trent pulls a major asshole move, and Kacey gets pissed and confronts him. He offers a lame explanation and squeezes out a few tears, and she forgives him. Seriously? That’s all it takes for this purported bad-ass, tough as nails chick?
There were a couple of other things that bothered me. There were two instances of violence of women towards men that were both laughed off and portrayed as cute and charming. Violence perpetrated by women should be regarded as despicably as violence perpetrated by men. Why do female characters get a free pass when they hit men? I’ll never understand that. Also, as is common to this genre, many secondary male characters are portrayed as sex-crazed perverts.
I haven’t even gotten to the worst part – the absolutely ridiculous twist. Knowing what we know at the end, it is IMPOSSIBLE to reconcile the Trent at the end who is (I have to choose my adjectives carefully) kind and oozing with sincerity, with the cocky, arrogant guy we met at the beginning. It makes NO sense, and as a reader, I felt insulted.
OK – so you want to know the big twist??? If not, skip this paragraph. Trent’s real name is Cole. He loaned his car to his drunk friend who ended up killing Kacey’s family, boyfriend, and best friend. Kacey knew the identity of Cole and blamed him for the accident. When his family attempted to contact her afterwards, she slapped restraining orders on all of them. Cole/Trent stalked Kacey online for two years, hacked into her e-mail and found out she was moving to Miami. It gets even more romantic when he picks up and moves to Miami, too, and rents the apartment next door to her. As I mentioned above, he hits on her in obnoxious, arrogant ways and if there is any remorse, he certainly hides it well. He’s a charmer, right? This is all presented to us as no big deal and as evidence of Trent’s enormous grief. Kacey learns all of this by accident and has a breakdown and is sent to a mental hospital. Her doctor (who was also Trent’s doctor. Say WHAT????) immediately sends Trent’s father into her hospital room – purportedly part of her treatment, although the pesky restraining order Kacey has against Trent and his parents is never addressed. I mean, is this not crazy? Would ANY doctor do any of this? And then the doctor forces a meeting between Kacey and Trent, again in complete violation of the restraining order and probably in violation of any doctor’s code of conduct. Then Kacey and Trent/Cole go on to blissful happiness. The end. END OF SPOILERS.
Most shocking of all is that this book is apparently the first in a series. I don’t understand why, because the epilogue wraps up all of the unpleasantness in a pretty, tidy bow, and I don’t know what else a sequel could possibly explore.
Note – I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.
Review posted at Goodreads