*Note: I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Cheryl from iheartfictionalpeople. Thank you Cheryl, the author (Mila Gray/Sarah Alderson) and publisher (Pan Macmillan) !
Summary (From Goodreads):
Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend’s sister, Jessa – the one girl he can’t have.
But Kit’s not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa’s falling for his irresistible charms.
What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.
When summer’s over and it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa’s finally following her dreams and Kit’s discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.
Jessa’s prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they’re forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.
A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.
The Goodreads summary is a bit different than the one on the hardcover. That synopsis ends with the same cliffhanger as the first chapter of the book – leaving us to wonder who dies – Kit or Riley(Jessa’s brother). We are soon thrown back to three months earlier when Kit and Riley come home on leave. So despite its ominous beginning, the book is a pretty breezy and lighthearted read for most part. There are a lot of familiar romantic and family tropes used and I did enjoy some of them. The Riley-Kit bromance was nice and so were all the father-son moments between Kit and his dad.
I think where I struggled with the book was that some issues were focused on way too much, some in an almost forced, dramatic way. And there were some other things which could have been fleshed out better, but was brought in suddenly, so it felt like some half baked sub plot. And most of the plot’s shortcomings are related to the way Jessa’s character and her family dynamics were described. She felt like such a stereotype, the dutiful, obedient daughter who hasn’t missed a day of school. She and her mom are always walking on eggshells and trying not to upset Jessa’s dad, who, they suspect might be suffering from PTSD from his early military days. But all it takes is three months of falling in love with Kit to change completely. From teaching her driving to coaxing her to go to acting auditions, Kit works miracles for her confidence.
The book is about two young people falling in love and there is this constant tussle in their minds about whether or not to admit or commit to their feelings. So while I was expecting pages of them kissing and getting intimate, I felt there were too many pages devoted to it where there was literally nothing else happening in the story. There is this whole plot of Jessa’s dad hating Kit and his dad because of some past incident. I found that easy to guess, and I think that’s another thing I found with the book- it was too predictable.
Coming to the military backdrop of this book, I liked how PTSD in military men was touched upon. I especially liked the way they showed Jessa’s mom being such a rock when it came to staying on with her dad and supporting him. While I understood Jessa’s anger at what the entire family collectively goes through because of her dad’s mood changes and her mom not speaking up, I honestly found her slightly fickle and self-absorbed sometimes. If I have to put it in simple terms, let’s just say I found Kit endearing though he checked all the boxes of familiar romantic tropes, whereas Jessa was a more irritating female version.
So yea, this book was a bit of a mixed bag for me.