By Erin McCarthy
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.
Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…
Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…
I really like Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track regular romance series – it’s hot and sexy and the characters are usually exciting. Unfortunately, I don’t think McCarthy’s style has translated well to New Adult at all. I didn’t enjoy True – I actually found myself on the verge of DNF’ing it several times, which was completely unexpected.
I confess I heard a little buzz about a controversy surrounding the scene in which Rory first meets Tyler. It’s happening often enough in NA that it could almost be considered a trope: the innocent heroine is “rescued” from a sexual assault by the big strong hero, usually at a party where everyone is drunk. In this case, there’s a whiff that Rory was asking for it, since she knowingly drank past her limit, was considering sex with her attacker since he was a loser and she thought he was the best she could do and didn’t fight back when he initially kissed her. The scene was as horrible as I thought it would be, if not slightly worse, since the hero was kind of scummy himself. Tyler is the kind of guy who has no problem with casual sex and he’s just had some with Rory’s roommate.
Many that have been reading NA, especially this year, have been bemoaning the lack of originality in plots and characters. True doesn’t stray that far from anything that’s come before it. Rory is a nerdy, smart, pretty and virginal college student who comes from a nice middle-class family with one dead parent and one distant one. Tyler is an older experienced boy with tattoos who drinks, comes from a dirt poor family with a single, messed up parent and has brothers he takes care of. He does well enough in school and plans on getting a quick degree so he can graduate fast and get a good job so he can take care of his family, away from his alcoholic, druggie mother. Is any of this sounding vaguely familiar yet?
There’s just not that much that was unusual enough about the storyline for me to go into either. Rory thinks she’s too boring for Tyler and can’t figure out why he’s hanging out with her, he thinks she’s too good for him, they have sex and are a couple, tragedy strikes, etc. etc. I do have to give McCarthy some credit for introducing some bits of storyline that I didn’t expect her to that made me uncomfortable. I don’t want to spoil them since they come near the end of the book, but they’re shocking and unexpected enough that I thought that if she followed through on them, this could have been an interesting, powerfully realistic story given Tyler’s home situation and the things going on at college. Instead, she took the simple way out with a little deus ex machina and a couple of overwrought scenes to deliver an expected ending.
I didn’t connect to Rory or Tyler as a couple or individually, which didn’t help with the lackluster plot. Rory only had a few go-to emotions: embarrassed/self-conscious, devastated/crying and deliriously happy. Most depended on what was happening with Tyler and her character admitted it, like suddenly having emotions now that you’re with a guy is a good thing. She just seemed a little desperate and I felt sorry for her more than I liked her. I think I never came close to liking Tyler, mostly because of my first impressions of him. He seemed skeevy at the parties, passing out Oxycontin and sleeping with Rory’s friend (they had an “arrangement”), so even when his genuine side came out, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Tyler’s older brother Riley is getting a book next and I hope he gets something edgier and different. I’ll still read her adult romance series’, but I just can’t read McCarthy’s NA.
My Rating: D