by Julie Cross
Series: Juniper Falls #2
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
The second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.
Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.
Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.
But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.
Content warning: This book has teen sex, (responsible) underage drinking, and lots of swearing.
A young adult romance with hockey? Sign me up!
Haley is the Juniper Falls Princess (yes, that’s really a thing) and Fletcher is a JV hockey player who keeps to himself. Normally, they’d never even be at the same party, but they end up in the same summer school Civics class, and Haley decides that Fletch’s nerdy self is the perfect project partner to bring up her GPA (she even gives him a project partner invitation, complete with glitter and calligraphy). Haley is peppy, pretty and near-perfect, all those princessy words. At first this seemed like just another popular cheerleader falls in love with the nerdy guy stories, but it’s so much more. Each time one layer of the story is peeled back, you find another layer underneath. Why does Fletch keep to himself? What happened in third grade? Why’s Haley in summer school? Why does Fletch suddenly want to play on the varsity team? What’s Fletch’s mysterious job?
“Can you promise me that if I kiss you, it’ll just be for fun? That I won’t keep feeling things after?”
And the angst, oh the teen angst. Normally I avoid angst like the plague, but in this case, it didn’t really bother me that much. Haley and Fletcher are both facing serious issues, and the alternating view points of the chapters helped ground me in the story. It was also surprisingly sexy, despite being a YA. It takes for-ev-er for the main characters to kiss, and the slow burn will-they-or-won’t-they was well done and had me trying to sneak in chapters whenever I could. Fletch is just plain swoony! There are also, of course, several Important Issues covered, most of which I won’t mention to avoid spoilers. I will say, however, that I especially enjoyed the thoughtful discussion around bullying, from both the bullied and bully’s perspectives.
“Maybe if I say exactly what I’m thinking, stuff won’t build into big imaginary relationships inside my head. A guy can be hot and sexy without being a marital prospect or a soul mate. Right?”
Though this is the second in the series, I read it as a standalone. It worked fine for me, but it was obvious there was some backstory with Hailey and some of the other characters of the previous book. In fact, I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately went and put the first book on hold at my library as soon as I was done.
As for cons, it felt like some of the plot points (like Fletch and the varsity team and Haley’s suspected issue) needed more closure. Also, without going into too many spoilers, I found it surprising that none of Haley’s friends or teachers suspected what Fletch figured out after working on a project with her for, what, a week?
Overall, this was a surprisingly lot of fun, and it kept me guessing how things would turn out. I’m eagerly anticipating reading the first book in the series!