TITLE: The Shape Of My Heart
SERIES: 2B Trilogy #3
AUTHOR: Ann Aguirre
PUBLICATION DATE: November 25, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harlequin HQN
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: Blog Tour via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows
BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes And Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Vroman’s Bookstore | The Book Depository | Powell’s Books | iTunes
Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school—only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney’s social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she’s made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate, Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore.
Max knows about feeling lost and trying to move beyond the pain—he’s been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it’s time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney’s the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything…because the more time he spends with Courtney, the harder it is to reconcile what he wants and what he thinks he deserves.
It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that’s ever been broken, there’s another that can make it complete.
He didn’t speak until I was strapping on the helmet. “It’s weird how nervous I am. I was going for original but I hope I didn’t cross into cheesy.”
“I love cheese,” I told him.
“That makes me feel marginally better.”
Max got on the bike and I climbed on behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist. The motorcycle zoomed off, warm wind rushing against my skin. At first I wasn’t sure where we were going, but then I started recognizing landmarks. Each turn brought us closer to the private place Max had shared with me before, the spot that offered him respite from the world. Like before, we parked and walked in, but when we pushed through the bushes to the small clearing overlooking the river, everything was different. He’d set up a red and white blanket, complete with picnic basket. Overhead, the sky was darkening to a shade of bruised plum, and the moon cut through in a crescent of silver. Glimmers of starlight caught the water, just a hint now, though it would be a flood of brilliance in an hour or so.
“I want to give you the world,” he said. “But for now, will you settle for a corner of it?”
In answer I sang the chorus of I Only Want to Be With You. At every bar mitzvah I ever attended, the terrible DJ always played this song, and I never imagined I’d have reason to sing it. But from Max’s grin, it was a good choice. Obviously relieved at my reaction, he set out the food carefully packaged in plastic containers: cheese, fruit, cold cuts, and crackers. There was also a bottle of wine with plastic glasses.
“Ten points for pure ambiance,” I said.
“That’s not all.”
Max delved in his pocket and came up with an Ipod, which he connected to a small flexible speaker. In seconds, the soft strains of my favorite song filled the silence—Big Strong Girl by Deb Talan. It was incredible to realize all the nights we’d hung out, talking music, hadn’t rolled over him like ocean waves, leaving the sand fundamentally unchanged. No, it was more like Max had been soaking me up like a sponge.
“You are killing me,” I whispered, oddly on the verge of tears.
“In a good way?”
I managed a nod. “The best. Thank you for all of this.”
“So you like it?” Tension seeped out of his shoulders as he offered his hand and pulled me down onto the blanket beside him. It was thick and plush but I could still feel the blades of grass prickling through. Judging by the pile of stones nearby, he must’ve spent at least an hour clearing the area.
“This is perfect. I’m not much for consumer culture anyway.”
“I figured I needed to do something special—and memorable—for our first date.”
“Mission accomplished. You hungry?”
“Starving,” he admitted, but from the look in his eyes, he wasn’t entirely talking about the food.
All in due time.
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.
Courtney has already met and lost the love of her life. After that, all interludes are just meaningless relationships. She doesn’t want to fall in love again. She invests in friendship and has an active love life, but she’s not looking for anything super long-term. Until Max makes her start thinking that he might just be the next serious thing. Max has went through his adult life hiding the pain of his adolescence. He’s been on his own since sixteen and has no plans to return home ever again. Then he gets word that his grandfather died and is forced to confront his past. He invites Courtney along for the ride and soon realizes that with her by his side, he can accomplish near anything. Now can he just find a way to admit that to himself and make it work or will they stay friends and nothing more?
Courtney was a character I would have loved on principle alone. She’s not traditionally pretty, she’s not thin, she’s not the “perfect” girl we’ve seen in every other book. She has a bit of weight and more than once she is called ugly in this novel. And the best part of that? She’s accepted who she is. She’s cool with being that Jewish girl with the weird hair and the less than perfect face. She doesn’t compete in beauty contests or spend the novel trying to lose weight or diet or constantly bash her body. She’s an excellent role model and someone I’ll always try to emulate because I don’t know that I’ll ever be half as comfortable in my skin as she is. Beyond the loving her on principle thing, she’s still an extremely relatable character. She’s smart and driven and determined to do things her way and be herself, everyone else be damned.
Max is a character I’ve been fascinated with since book 1. I loved him almost immediately. The prediction I made when I started the first book was that book 1 would be about Nadia and Mr Hot Ginger, book 2 would be about Lauren and Max and then book 3 would be about Angus and whoever he was meant for. Yeah, I was wrong on that front. Lauren took a whole new direction and Max is really better off. Max reminds me a great deal of Lucas from Tammara Webber’s Easy. Bad-ass engineering studio with a motorcycle and issues with is past? But with a heart of gold and a need to defend woman? Yeah, definitely my type. The way he defended Courtney also won me over pretty quickly. He honestly likes her for who she is, but also happens to find her sexy as hell. I’m also always a sucker for the type who work their ass off to get what they have. There are weeks where all this poor guy does is school and work because that’s the only way to make ends meet. I know all about that struggle, so it’s always refreshing to read about characters in that situation.
Courtney & Max’s relationship is one of those amazing ones that is a transition from friendship to more. I love those relationships. That moment when one or the other realizes the possibility for more and really weighs the options of what they are risking against what will be gained (or possibly lost). The tension between these two was amazing to read through. It was exactly what I wanted when I started it.
I will admit that these are my first foray into Aguirre’s work. I haven’t read her YA’s (though I have the Razorland series) or any of her adult romances. If this is the level of awesome I can expect from her other work, then I plan on working my way through all of them. This novel is a break from the NA tropes we constantly see (not that I don’t enjoy those). These are real flawed characters, but not unfixable. They work towards the mutual goal of betterment. And it was a joy (and sometimes a sadness) to take that journey with them. I look forward to finding out what Aguirre has in store for her new rabid NA fanbase!
****Thank you to Inkslinger PR, Ann Aguirre, and Harlequin HQN for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****