Once upon a time – better known as “now” - Gabriel Pritz reigns as king of his high school. Easy grades, perfect baseball season, a pretty date for prom—he's coasting into a golden future. Until his parents demand he cook dinner once a week. Caught between kitchen fires and ballpark withdrawal, Gabe is thrown into Tam Swann's orbit. Hostile, friendless, and stubborn, she's exactly the sort of person he'd prefer to avoid.
Tam's sphere of influence expands beyond Gabe's sad domestic skills, rapidly invading everything from his favorite game to parts of his soul he didn't know existed. It's uncomfortable, it's hard work, it's...making him a better man. And that's just what she does to people she doesn't like. The better he gets to know her, the more he has to face the truth: this sharp, heart-breaking outcast is worth fighting for. How many families, fairy tales, and felons will he go through to ride to the rescue of the bravest person he's ever met?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lex Keating has been engaged in a passionate affair with books ever since the Velveteen Rabbit wanted to be real. She graduated from a liberal arts college with a BA in literature, and currently resides near Charleston, South Carolina, in a swamp full of barbarians and all their cats. She has been a teacher, a paralegal, a computer programmer, and a hospice caregiver. She currently divides her time between studying old fairy tales and making up new ones.
This story had me completely captivated. I am not really a fan of contemporary romance/drama stories. They need to have something really extraordinary in them to hold my attention and this book really did. It opens…differently. Honestly, I didn’t really follow. To this day I still don’t know what happened between Gabe and Alex that warranted such strange punishment but whatever it was, it introduced the enticing Tam Swann and the rest read like a fairytale – complete with an evil queen, a wretched step sister and a dashing prince who learns to love the princess and trips head over heels in love. Well, it's more of a slow burning love that is flung forward because of his respect and admiration for her. How awesome is that?
Honestly my favourite part of this story is that it was a YA romance that didn’t feel like a YA romance. The cover is a bit misleading because you think this is a sweet, summer romance. It’s not. It’s so much MORE. There were high stakes and it was more than just a high school crush. This is about a girl who grew up too soon and a boy who learns – rather harshly – that in the real world, he can’t take people at face value.
The other big theme in this story is family. There are two large family dynamics: the Pritzs and the Swanns. Both are a little – very – dysfunctional and they are handled differently. It was nice to see a big family but it was also surrounded by a lot of violence inside the family – protective brothers, boys who don’t know how to express themselves any other way, I guess – which was kind of a turn off but what do I know about how a houseful of teenage boys would interact?
All of the characters have some quality that sort of hits you like a brick: Tam’s bluntness, Gabe’s uncontrollable emotions, Kerry’s bipolar personality, Aileen’s…personality in general. Sorry, I just really didn’t like Aileen. Some characters are instantly dislikable, some you grow into and some you’ll connect with immediately – there’s someone for everyone. One thing I know: you will fall in love with the Swanns. The way they interact with each other is just beautiful, and their individual stories that make up this mosaic of heart-wrenching emotion is just unbelievable.
And my random thoughts throughout are a little sparse because I was just so engrossed in this story:
· Mysterious girl. Classic
· I find the relationship between Gabe and Steve endearing
· I really like Tam. She’s just awesome
· This book is going to make me so hungry
· Yeah his mom makes no sense
· I feel like I’m reading porn. I'm salivating from all the food they're cooking!
· “I have pepper spray…sorry what?” Love it
· Oh my god. Steve has friends!
· Shut up, you totally care
· Ugh, Alex you are such a guy
· I’m rolling my eyes in my mind because she is so freaking high maintenance
· Wow Kerry
· I’m kind of liking this third person style. I would not want to be in any other character’s head. Scary place.
· You are a sucker and I find it adorable
· I really like the way the Swann’s relationship is written
· I’m surprised Gabe made it this far before he made corny baseball/relationship analogies
· I am using the phrase "bunny-boiler". Love it
· Holy sh*t. Things just got real
· Have I mentioned how much I love Tiger Andy? The cutest thing ever
· Tam. Y U Tease?
· “For silver bells and cockleshells and one pretty maid armed with a hoe” Oh Alex
There are no more notes because I powered through the last section where everything comes to a close and like every good fairytale, they all live happily ever after – maybe with a little therapy.
Though a bit confusing at times with the dialogue this was an engaging, emotional read that would fit well on any bookshelf.