So I took the night to collect my thoughts, and I still don’t know how to rate this – there’s a lot going on in the story, and a lot going on in my head. Let’s start with this: I’m a first-timer! I’ve been meaning to check out Douglas’ work for years now, and this seemed like the perfect place to start. It’s a series starter the DOES pick up a fresh story, but… wow, yeah, not really a standalone, lol. If you’re a longtime fan of Douglas’ work, chances are that you’ll have your own opinion on the storyline, but there are a LOT of characters to keep track of, so many snippets of history that you’ll be scratching your head if you’re not familiar, and this doesn’t actually wrap everything up with a neat little bow. I was legitimately confused sometimes, and based on other responses to this, it’s not just because I’m new to this world. Some things just don’t make sense. But you know what? The writing was immensely bingeable, and I found myself pushing through the confusion repeatedly because I was honestly curious to see how things turned out. So, this is neither a win nor a loss for me; it provided me with a solid reading experience, but I can EASILY identify like 20 things that didn’t work for me.
The story follows Aro, a teenager who has grown up taking care of herself. Every day is a battle, but she’s got family to provide for, so she perseveres – at least for now. Aro is convinced that she’ll die young (she IS in danger at every moment, either from her drug-dealing boss or the cops), so she doesn’t hold back. Her latest incident might’ve gone too far, and Aro soon finds herself mixed up with a group of wealthy teens from the other part of town, including the do-gooder former class president, Hawke. Aro has heard all about Hawke, but she never expected to be drawn to him. Aro came into Hawke’s life like a wrecking ball, and she is dismantling everything he thought he knew about himself… possibly in a good way.
Let’s talk about what I loved for a minute. This hits the ground running from the first page, and it was a high octane read after that, even if I couldn’t tell you what the actual plot is about, lol. It’s got a suspenseful feel, definite new adult vibes, and an opposites attract dynamic that worked. I loved how well Aro and Hawke complement each other, and more focus on the swoony side of their relationship probably would’ve made this pretty great. Well… that and a coherent storyline, because I don’t think I’m the only one who is confused. I liked that Aro has experienced so much in her life, and that Hawke is the vulnerable one still grappling with a few things. He’s also not a manhoe, which I liked. I DIDN’T like the level of OW drama, or that the emotional connection was so weak that Hawke was still messing around with his ex a significant portion of the way in. That definitely put a damper on the romance, so it was sort of strangers to enemies to reluctant friends to friends with benefits to love. Not enough time spent on the quieter, intimate moments, which really could’ve enhanced the story. I could write an essay on the things that bugged me or the level of confusion I felt while reading, but what I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of good stuff going on in the story, and it was strangely compelling for me. Perhaps it would flow better with a reread, I don’t know, but I genuinely liked a significant portion of the book, even if I felt lost many times.
“The kids are growing up—different from their parents but the same in so many ways…”
Hawken Trent. So polite. So sweet. Such an upstanding young man.
A virgin, too, I hear. He never gets naughty with a girl. Probably because Jesus told him not to.
And now here he is, trying to be the hero by protecting another girl from me.
He calls me a bully. Irrational. Unreasonable. A criminal. He can call me anything he wants, I’ve heard worse.
And he can try to stand between me and my money, but he’s never had to fight for food. That rich, clean, school boy doesn’t have what it takes.
I surprised her. You should’ve seen her face.
Just because I don’t have a record, honey, doesn’t mean I’m clean. It just means I’m better at not getting caught.
That is until I realize I might’ve actually gone too far this time.
She’s there. I’m there. The scene of the crime.
It’s dark. The police show up.
We have no choice. We run. Down High Street, into Quinn’s bake shop, and I pull her through the entrance to the old speakeasy that everyone forgot was here decades ago.
The door locks, the cops circle the building, never knowing we’re right here, and I’m hidden in plain sight, indefinitely, with someone’s who’s awful.
Mean. Rough. Dirty.
A thief. A delinquent.
Until one night, lost in all of these rooms together, I don’t see any of those things anymore.
She’s smart. Daring. Soft.
Everything’s changing. It’s this place. It does something to people.
We have a silly urban legend in Shelburne Falls about mirrors. They’re a gateway. Don’t lean back into them.
But we came through front first.
I don’t care what the county records say. This was never a speakeasy.
It’s Carnival Tower.
*FALLS BOYS is a standalone, new adult romance suitable for readers 18+. It contains harsh language, violence, and sexual situations. Reading the Fall Away series prior to this is helpful, but not necessary.
About the Author:
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Their books have been translated into nineteen languages and include The Fall Away Series, The Devil’s Night Series, and the stand-alones, Misconduct, Punk 57, Birthday Girl, Credence, and Tryst Six Venom. Please look for The Hellbent Series and Motel, coming next!
They live in New England with their husband and daughter.
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