Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Format read: ARC via publisher
With a sweeping backdrop, family drama and natural disasters, this book is a must-read for anyone who likes smart, well-thought out romances with a lot of charm.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
However, I was still surprised at just how much I ended up falling in love with Jemma and Ryder's story.
Cook introduces us to the pair just as they're on the precipice of deciding the rest of their lives: the book opens with Jenna thinking of bucking generations of Cafferty tradition by going to film school at NYU, and Ryder - as we learn later - also deciding that he wants more than the role he's been playing for most of his life.
Jemma and Ryder's decision to try new paths, also includes their renewed commitment to hating each other. Despite years of parental interference to try and get the two of them together, they've stalwartly refused to give in, until a fateful storm reveals hidden feelings…
Cook's reverse Romeo and Juliet is a sweeping tale that is not only ridiculously romantic, but also poses some thoughtful questions on what makes a genuine romance. When the novel begins, both Jemma and Ryder are exploring relationships with other people; Jemma is with the renowned school rebel, while Ryder appears to be dating a girl who likes him more than he likes her.
But as Jemma and Ryder begin to spend more and more time together, first because of necessity - Jemma's sister has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, so the Marsdens are offering support - and then because of circumstances driven by the storm, they begin to see that their connections and shared history give them a foundation for a great future together.
Outside of their love/hate romance, Jemma and Ryder are also great characters on their own. Readers will definitely appreciate Jemma's many layers - she's both cheerleader and a girl who can shoot a snake in the head from several feet away - and Ryder proves that he's not just a one-track mind jock.
Their individuality is only bolstered by Cook's diverse and colorful secondary characters, including meddling parents and well-meanign (though occasionally obnoxious friends) who help round out the lovely world of Magnolia Branch.
(Okay, I may have thought about this a little too much.)
Kristi Cook has written a lush, romantic story that is not only a clever reverse of the classic Romeo and Juliet scenario, but also presents a thoughtful look at how sometimes, love can be right in front of you. It's the people who have known you the longest, that can often love you best and in all the right ways.
I highly recommend this book for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Perkins.
About the author:
Kristi Cook also publishes adult titles under the names Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor. Her YA novels include Haven, Mirage, Eternal, and Magnolia. Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at Kristi-Cook.com.