Madison Pryce has her life all figured out. She is working on her portfolio to make sure she can become the architect she dreams of, she has a close group of friends, and a hot boyfriend. Then she finds out something that changes everything. Suddenly she isn’t so sure she knows what she wants and who she wants it from. Jesse McMann still hasn’t gotten over his last girlfriend. She smashed his heart to smithereens when she dumped him in favor of his best friend….who also happened to be his drummer. He lost his love and his band in one fell swoop. Now that his finally gotten around to auditioning a new drummer, fate steps in. The new drummer just happens to be Grayson Barrett, boyfriend to Wren who is besties with Madison (AKA, the girl who comes in every Thursday for a chai). The more time Jesse & Madison spend together, the more they feel the pulls of attraction. Can they get over their issues and make things work or will their problems get in the way?
Madison was a character I liked instantly. She’s smart, fun, driven, and she knows exactly where she wants her life to go. She’s also so artsy, which is something I admire. I can’t draw a stick figure or imagine an awesome new lay-out for a house, or take dynamic photographs (though I can snap near perfect concert pics). Madison can do all those things. Though she wants to go into architecture, she’s always trying to do other things to add to her portfolio to showcase her willingness to take risks and try new things. She also doesn’t take things too seriously. She likes to keep things light and fun, never really the type to get into a serious relationship. Even when she starts getting closer to Jesse, she just wants to hang out and fool around with him, enjoy his company. The thought of a serious commitment doesn’t really enter her mind. That’s thrilling for me because I was the exact opposite. I was more of a Wren than a Madison, but it’s fascinating to read from an entirely different perspective. The way she handles her feelings about the changes and new information in her life was so heart-breakingly realistic. She’s in a no win situation. This is something that should make her happy. It’s definitely not bad news and yet, she can’t come to terms with it. I loved it so much. I also loved how confident she was in herself. In YA, we get a lot of girls who don’t think much of themselves. We get those girls that think they are ugly but all the guys swarm telling the oh so clever audience that the girl is far from ugly. That is not to be found here. Madison knows she’s attractive. She isn’t overly cocky about it, just confident enough to admit she looks good. It was entirely refreshing to read that after all the Bella Swan character types I’ve been seeing.
Jesse may have been more swoon-worthy than Grayson was….at least until Gray shows up here and starts stealing my heart again.
Nope, must focus on Jesse! Part of what I loved about Jesse is his dual personality. There was normal Jesse and then there was Stage Jesse. I loved that he was entirely aware of how confident he became onstage and tried (and failed) to emulate that in normal life. That is something about the lights and the crowd and the guitar that allows him to let go and know it’ll be okay. It was wholly adorable. Everything about him is adorable. I’m sure that’s not what he’s going for. He’s going for that hot rock god thing and, while he succeeds at that, I’m more a sucker for the adorable-ness that comes around when he isn’t on stage. Plus, you kinda just want to give the guy a hug. He literally had his heart torn out and stomped on. He’s best friend stole his girlfriend from underneath him. Losing your girlfriend is hard enough, but knowing your best friend cares so little about you that he’d take that away and ruin your band in the process (because no high school band can survive that kind of drama) is beyond devastating. Plus, neither one of them seem sorry. They both act as if Jesse’s feelings don’t factor in to the equation. Which is really shitty. I’m not a fan of that whole “love makes it okay to fuck with people thing.” Love is important and I’m behind that emotion 100% but it doesn’t negate basic courtesy. If things weren’t working, Hannah should have said something instead of fucking around with Jesse’s friend. Said friend should have turned down Hannah’s advances because he knows better. I kinda wanted to bitch slap both of them. But it’s okay because Jesse’s better off. The only thing I didn’t love about Jesse was his taste in music. I’m probably the only rocker on the planet who can’t stand Nirvana or Pink Floyd, but I despise both of them. Every time I see them mentioned anywhere, I can’t help rolling my eyes. I do applaud Constantine for putting in actual band names. I know people say specifying the bands or songs can date a novel, but I prefer that. Even if it’s songs I hate, at least I can ground the novel more by listening to what the characters are. And it can introduce me to new music which is always a plus.
This was possibly better than The Promise Of Amazing. Me saying that is a huge thing because I loved TPOA. My only issue with it was some of the dialogue felt a bit off. I did read an ARC of that, so it’s quite possible it was fixed before publishing and my issue became a moot point, but sometimes Gray’s words bugged me and pulled me out of the story. That is not the case here. All the talking (verbal or otherwise) felt very realistic. I loved that the cursing wasn’t just limited to the guys. Madison and Wren both say fuck at least once and that makes it more believable for me. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I cursed in high school (and still do ^-^) and though I know there are people who don’t, I find that hard to believe and relate to. Sometimes in life, I feel like swear words are necessary. When you stub your toe and it hurts so bad you think you might have broken it “oh poo” just doesn’t cover it. So I loved that the characters spouted real swear words and not stupid substitutes. That’s actually a pet peeve of mine that I blame on the House Of Night series. At no point in life should one ever utter the words bullpoop in lieu of bullshit. It doesn’t work. If you must refrain from cursing, simply say BS and let it be. Mini-rant over.
This should have annoyed me in many ways. I hate love triangles.
But this was done so differently that I couldn’t be mad at it. Besides, it was more like a love….what kind of shape pentagon. It make me think of that Amanda Bynes movie She’s The Man. Zack loves Madison, who likes Jesse, who is hung up on Hannah, who is with Duncan. It’s hard to be mad at Madison for the triangle when its clear that she never meant for it to happen. It’s obvious to annoying who pays attention that she just wanted things to be causal with Zack and he just couldn’t handle that. And Jesse isn’t really in a triangle, he is just mopey over HannaDunk, which is understandable. Fuck, poor Jesse. I just feel so bad for him.
What it comes down to is this: this is the perfect contemporary YA romance. You get angst, drama, wit, charm, and, of course, romance. It’s fun, it’s heart-breaking at times, and it has that perfectly imperfect ending that we call crave. Things end on a good note, but there is still enough room for growth and development for the characters that you know everything won’t be 100% perfect. I loved it so much, I don’t think there are words. Basically, if you are a fan of Stephanie Perkins or Kasie West or Claire LaZebnik, you’ll love this!
****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****