Just when I thought that after five instalments in the Sea Breeze series I would be safe in knowing what to expect in this book, I realised that you never know what you’re going to get in an Abbi Glines novel. So very different from its prequels, this story is a gut-wrenching joy-ride beginning to end, with so many moments that will take your breath away with the intensity of emotions running through you. Jess is a bad girl that I adored, her every action making me love her even more, and this is truly her book.
“He was a fairy tale. And I didn’t live in a storybook.”
As someone who always saw herself as a bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Jess was raised to believe that her only way out from the life her mother had no choice but to live was by finding a man who would take care of her and save her from her reality. The only child of a single mother who could only make ends meet by working as a stripper, she never had a positive male role model around to make her believe that a good man is anything more than a fairy tale. Every man in her life used her for one thing and one thing alone, and she quickly learned that no man would ever offer her anything without expecting something in return. She was used to men putting her down, cheating on her, mistreating and disrespecting her, finding it very difficult to accept attentiveness with no strings attached.
“Enjoy him, baby girl, but remember he’s just a man. He’ll marry a girl with a trust fund. Watch your heart.”
When she meets Jason, she is immediately attracted to him physically, but the more time they spend together, the more she believes him to be completely out of her league. She doesn’t even allow herself to daydream of a future with him, knowing guys like Jason never end up with girls like her. As their attraction grows and stems into a casual but very steamy affair between them, for the first time in her life, Jess learns what it feels like to be treated by a man with respect.
“Jess, if guys don’t open doors for you, then they aren’t worth your time.”
She finds Jason’s thoughtfulness and genuine interest in her as a person, not just her body, hard to accept at times. He makes her feel special, cared for, and soon her feelings towards him inevitably turn into a lot more than she knows she should feel. But she never stops believing that what they have is not permanent, expecting him to walk out of her life the moment he does not need her as a distraction any longer.
“Could you get closure on something like this? Loving a man who didn’t love you back?”
Jason never expected that a firecracker like Jess would finally be his undoing. As the younger brother of a rockstar, Jason has lived under that shadow all his life, never really knowing whether people liked him for him or because of his connection to a celebrity. He works hard to pave his own future, still unsure of what that future would be, but determined to become his own man and not always be known as someone’s brother. Jess shakes his picture-perfect life the moment she steps in front of his car with a baseball bat in her hand. He is drawn to her carefree spirit, her innate sex-appeal and the vulnerability she so desperately tries to hide. She acts like other people’s treatment of her does not affect her, her sassiness being her shield against hurt, but Jason sees that underneath that bravado is an insecure young woman whose only wish is to be someone’s first choice, for someone other than her mother to finally put her first and make her feel safe. As much as he cannot stay away from her and finds himself feeling protective and possessive of her, he sees commitment being a complication he believes not to have time for at this stage in his life. He wants her, but he won’t allow himself to claim her completely, as he cannot see her fitting in his world.
“I know this is just a little fling. I’m not expecting more.”
This is in so many ways a heartbreaking love story between a young woman who is willing to settle for less from the man she loves if it means she would have him in her life at all, and a young man still trying to find himself and slowly learning that the best things in life are always a little bit complicated. Jess is a heroine who made me want to beat up every man that had ever wronged her and whose kind heart and vulnerability were the highlights of the story for me. It took me some time to grow attached to Jason, his indecision when it came to claiming Jess as his own making me see red at times, but the vast difference in the way they were raised justified that in my eyes. This was a story whose heart-wrenching moments will stay with you, make you want to re-read them, re-live them. Nothing gets to me like scenarios of unrequited love, real or apparent, and this book got to me page after page, scene after scene. An absolute game changer in a series that keeps getting better and better.
“As the music played over the speakers and the waterfall in the pool filled the silence around us, I knew that without a doubt I had just been ruined.”