Friday, 1 August 2014

Harder by Robin York

Harder (2014) (Bantam Dell)
Robin York a.k.a. Ruthie Knox
Grade: A+
Genre: New Adult
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Caroline & West: (1) Deeper, (2) Harder
YA Reading Bingo Challenge 2014: A book without a love triangle

A year ago, Caroline Piasecki’s life was turned upside down when she became a victim of revenge porn. Thanks to her ex-boyfriend, everyone at college suddenly knew who she was, what she looked like naked, and she was receiving daily explicit messages from strangers taking advantage of her plight. A less-than-conventional relationship with campus bad-boy West Leavitt makes her happier than she’s ever been, giving her the confidence to overcome this hurdle in her life – until family circumstances force West to give up his scholarship and return home to Oregon.

When West calls Caroline in the middle of a family crisis, she’s on the first plane out of Iowa. Caro is willing to do whatever she needs for West – just as he helped her in her time of need – however much he tries to push her away. As they move back to Iowa with his younger sister Frankie in tow, they’re together again, but nothing will ever be the same again. West is angry at the world and with his classes to catch up on, grades to keep up, his sister to look after and a job to keep on the go, it’s a wonder he hasn’t buckled under the pressure. Caro is there for him when he’s ready to give voice to his feelings, but he’s loath to share. Meanwhile, Caro’s impending civil suit against her ex- is looming and she’s got to make up her mind whether she wants to exact revenge, or use her victimhood to do good …

Just like Deeper, Harder was fantastic. Perhaps not quite as amazing because it's book two and subsequent books can never quite match the stunning beauty of the first book in a series, but it was good all the same. Harder doesn't quite pick up where Deeper left off, for which I'm immensely happy about: time has made West cynical and disillusioned with the world. His love for Caro has been suppressed and deeply buried - as if he doesn't want to subject such pure feelings to the reality that is his home life. It's gritty, painfully real and one of the reasons why I love Ruthie Knox so much.

I need more books in the Caroline & West series if only to keep up with these wonderful characters, though I’m pretty certain that with the way the book ended, there is unlikely to be more books in the series. Even though there are some pretty dark moments, I love Ruthie Knox for being able to pack so much hope into just a few simple paragraphs. Caro and West are just at the beginning of their lives and future together and it's truly heartwarming to see such a positive ending to an experience that is usually completely shattering for victims. A spin-off series with Frankie as the main character would be super cool for a few years time.

There was a point in Deeper where I was mad at Caro for not making West grovel enough. He could probably have done with grovelling a bit more in Harder because he did do some seriously shitty things, but he was definitely contrite enough. Again, chapters alternate between Caro and West’s point of views and Ms Knox is a master at both – there just aren’t words to describe it. A truly beautiful work of art that I would be more than willing to read again and again and again.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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