Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house.
Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself.
Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her… – Goodreads
Continuing on with my New Adult Spree of August, I read/devoured McCarthy’s True Believers series. This may be because McCarthy’s books have always been a source of comfort to me. I read them when I was younger so to come back to her writing has been nice. While this is number two in the series, it is far more a companion novel than a sequel. Of course being me, I still read the books in order. Of course I did.
In Sweet, we meet back up with Jessica, who we were introduced to in the first book, True. Jessica was the snarky best friend who was very much the opposite of Rory, the main character in True. I loved being inside Jessica’s head. I related more to her than Rory. Jessica’s parents are a bit controlling and constantly judging her, because of this she decided to spend the summer in her college town free of her parents and her brother who seems to hate her for no reason. McCarthy didn’t go too far into Jessica’s past and her parents, spending more time on Jessica and Riley who hate each other. At the beginning of the book and in the previous book they bicker with each other, they snap, it is recommended to not leave them together in the same room for very valid reasons. Then Jessica decides to stay in town during summer, tell her parents that she’s building houses for the poor, while she herself has nowhere to stay.
That is the moment her BFF Rory tells her that she’ll be out of town and she can stay in the house with Riley. Yes, the Riley who hates her. Jessica decides that is fine, because it’s better than being at home right? Slowly, McCarthy has the two characters, Riley and Jessica work together and ultimately fall in love. While Jessica’s background is completely different from mine, her bitterness, her snark, it was something I related to and it is something that Riley also related to which made the two of them work. Jessica’s personality is not something that is warm and welcoming to others and that is hard for her, and Riley’s brothers, who live with him, to get used to. Although they are not main characters in the novel the same way the older brothers are, they are still important (family is very important to them) and Jessica wants them to like her the way they like Rory. Of course this is easier said than done as everyone likes Rory. That’s just how Rory is.
Riley doesn’t care about Rory, not only because that’s his brother’s girl but because they would never work. Now him and Jessica? They could make that work and they do. Jessica wanted to protect Riley. Riley wanted to protect Jessica. But what they did differently than other couples, is they communicated, or they tried to. They’re still young twenty year olds who have fucked up lives, nothing is going to come that easy for them, and in a way, that is understandable. I’ve read a lot of reviews, in which there are complaints about the fact that the guys in this series smoking and that is disgusting. Yes. It is. But the guys in this series come from a very fucked up background. The fact that the worst thing they do is smoke is actually quite impressive.
This was by no means a perfect book, but it worked and more importantly the characters worked. I enjoyed Jessica and Riley’s story far more than I thought I would. I wanted to know more about them and their little world. I even picked up the third book right away thanks to my library’s overdrive purely because I wanted glimpses of Riley and Jessica.