Series: The Ivy Years #2
Published by Rennie Road Books on 1st June 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.
Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.
It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.
Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.
The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.
Reviewed by Kay
*I purchased a kindle copy from Amazon*
The second book in The Ivy Years series reunites us with Bridger, Hartley’s best friend from TYWFD. In the first book, Bridger was shown to be a real player. Hockey king, super flirt with a different girl every week, your typical carefree love em and leave em kind of guy. In The Year We Hid Away, we meet a very different Bridger. No longer on the hockey team, holding down several part time jobs and juggling that with an intense school workload, this Bridger has more on his plate to worry about than who his next hook up will be. Much more, as it turns out. Namely in the shape of Lucy, his adorable 8 year old sister. We briefly met Lucy in TYWFD and already got a glimpse of Bridger’s dedication to her, but in TYWHA, that is really taken to another level, with Lucy and her care and safety very clearly being his number one priority. Bridger is an absolute star in this book. His determination to take care of his sister and protect her from her difficult home life, his strength and maturity in dealing with her needs under incredibly challenging circumstances, shines out in every line. However, he’s more than that. He’s funny, super smart and much to his surprise, a loyal and loving boyfriend to the right girl. And that girl, is Scarlet.
Scarlet – or Shannon as she is when we first meet her – is a girl running from the nightmare that is her home life. Through no fault of her own, it has turned into a media circus and the once revered family name is now surrounded by tragedy and suspicion. In an attempt to break free from the controversy that has dogged her last year at high school, she starts her first year at Harkness College with her new name and a desire to live as anonymously as she can as Scarlet Crowley. Meeting Bridger was not in the plan, but she cannot help but be drawn to the charismatic redhead. With both of them barely keeping under wraps the problems they are having to deal with and neither wanting to burden to the other, they embark on a strange bit part relationship, enjoying the time they can spend together enormously, but also being aware that they are both holding back huge parts of themselves with the secrets they do not feel they can share. I liked Scarlet immediately.
I admire Sarina Bowen for once again not being scared to tackle difficult topics and for pushing her characters beyond the normal NA dramas. Scarlet has so much to deal with – very cold and unloving parents, a misplaced sense of guilt over something she had absolutely no power over, and the dread of the upcoming court case and all that will bring with it – you could hardly blame her for wanting to leave that all behind and try to start afresh. Her relationship with Bridger grew beautifully, and there was such a level of maturity between the two of them. No unnecessary trivial dramas, as I guess these two, despite their age, understand what real problems are. I was relieved when their secrets were finally revealed to each other, as I felt then they were free to be really open and honest together.
The writing in this book was exceptional. The characters felt real and their reactions true. As with The Year We Fell Down, the intimate scenes between the main characters were sweet and tender and felt very honest and true to life. I was pleased to see a little more of Corey and Hartley here, although this was very much Scarlet and Bridger’s story. Again, Bowen introduces us to another good supporting character in the shape of Andy, and I very much look forward to reading his novella.
So to sum up I would say simply this. I have a few “instant buy” authors whose work I will always preorder and buy on release day. Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, Priscilla Glenn to name just a few. Sarina Bowen will now be added to that list. I hope to read much more from this exciting new NA author in the near future. Her books are full of brilliant character connection, of warmth, drama, and passion. Everything you could want in the perfect NA series.