*****WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*****
Etta is finally getting that freedom she’s always desired. She is far from the average teenager, at eighteen she’s a senior at university and finally moving out on her own. She’ll finally be away from her father’s controlling nature and have the right to make her own decisions. She assumes this will mean her and Aaron will have another fling, but she also wants to stay single and just enjoy being young. And then she meets Damien and she can’t stop thinking about him or fight her attraction to him. He’s more controlling than her father and she knows she should stay away, but she just can’t and that will lead her down a path she never thought she’d take.
Etta starts out as a character I liked well. She’s smart and caring and she doesn’t hate her parents even though she has every right to be rebellious against them. What teenager wants to live with a 6 pm curfew? What teenager wouldn’t find a way to sneak out? But she calmly takes it because she knows they are overly cautious ever since her brothers death. Once she meets Damien though, I started to like her less and less. She gets so wrapped up in him that she forgoes everything else in her life. She ignores her family and friends and even skips her classes. She goes from someone who had to be intelligent in order to skip grades in school to a sex-crazed idiot. There were many moments where I wanted to reach into the novel and physically assault her. Especially when she mentions they need to start using protection and he tells her not to worry but doesn’t offer any other explanation than that and she just relents.
Excuse me? You are a very fertile 18 year old girl sleeping with a 23 year old man with no protection and you just assume you’ll magically remain fetus-free? Not fucking likely. So, of course, at the end, she is pregnant. Which makes you hate Damien all the more because he fucking knew what he was doing. There was no way he couldn’t know that this would be the outcome. That fact alone makes him despicable. Add to that the controlling way he treats Etta and he’s refusal to allow her to do anything he doesn’t approve of and I honestly can’t see why she stays with him. I don’t care if he is a sex god who can keep her in a continual state of bliss, somethings aren’t worth the trade-off. This man doesn’t even allow her to go out with her friends unless he accompanies them and expects her to stay where he tells her. He even goes so far as to switch the SIM card in her phone with one on his cell phone plan so he can track her whereabouts and block the numbers of people he doesn’t want her talking to.
So, if you can’t guess, I really don’t like Damien. He represents a specific type of male that I absolutely abhor. I wanted to shoot him in the face and get her as far away from him as earthly possible. I don’t care what the hell happened in his past, nothing excuses this behavior. Taking away the fact that he is so obsessive he apparently needs to know her every move to make sure she’s safe, he’s so damned secretive that it’s impossible to trust him. And he harps on and on about her needing to trust him but it’s obvious he doesn’t trust her. And don’t even get me started on his “jobs.” Instead of getting a normal job, he alternates between hustling fights for money and painting risque portraits. He claims he isn’t sleeping with any of these woman, but there is always that one girl, Bec who seems like she owns him. And he won’t show Etta any of his work or allow her to meet his clients or even catch a glimpse into that world, except what she can get from ease-dropping. And trust me, what she gets from ease-dropping should have sent her screaming and never let her come back.
Then there is Aaron, the sweet guy who has been friends with Etta for years. The guy that dating her within the confines of her dates rules and only broke it off when her date insisted on it. He’s that guy that NEVER gets the girl in novels. He always loses out to the domineering asshole because the girl just doesn’t love them like that. This had me instantly rooting for him. I’m a big advocate for the nice guy. I married a nice guy and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.
I’ll be totally honest and admit that I only started reading this after I learned that instead of writing one sequel, Lilliana was writing two, one with Etta ending up with Damien and one with her ending up with Aaron. I love this idea. It’s such a unique concept. It makes me think of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels I read as a kid. And I’m actually glad I wait to read this until after I requested to read both sequels because had I read it first, I’d have just asked for Aaron and I really do want to read both and compare them. It does beg the question of which hero our lovely author would have chosen if she’d had to pick though!
I think this novel really pushed my buttons because this situation is all too common. This hits way to close to home because a friend of mine is in a very similar situation, except she never left. Or rather, she did, but she kept going back afterwards. I just don’t understand. I don’t get what compels anyone to be in this type of abusive relationship. Sex is great, but shouldn’t there be more? The deeper Etta falls into Damien’s web the more antsy I got for her to see the truth. And once she does, the more antsy I got for her to get out for good. I desperately needed her to leave Damien and live a better life.
All in all, this novel has many aspects that I hate. It’s got a love triangle, a massive cliffhanger, and a male lead I desperately wanted to shoot in the face. And every page closer to the end I got, I hoped like hell this didn’t end up like typical love stories where Damien confesses his sins and Etta forgives him and they ride off into the sunset. She needs to be as far away from him as possible and so does their unborn child. If he is this crazy with her, imagine how he’d be with a child? Stay far the fuck away. Somehow, though, this dark tale of love, if you can even call it that, had me enraptured. And now, I’m off to read Damien’s ending first because I want to see what he thinks he can do that will possibly make up for his fuckups…then I’m going to read Aaron’s ending because I want to save the best for last. 😉