Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Contemporary New Adult/YA-Mature
For Tobin and Delia, everything was always equal.
A bargain, a trade, a deal to be struck.
A kiss for a kiss.
Your shirt for mine.
Break my heart, I’ll break yours.
Their disastrous split was no different. Tobin’s spent the last year pretending Delia never existed, and Delia’s been in D.C., pretending to be anything but the country girl that she is.
When tragedy brings her back to town, Tobin and Delia realize that time apart hasn’t healed either one of them. But staying away from each other is harder than they imagined, especially in small town Louisiana, and old feelings are quickly brought back to the surface.
In the mess they’ve created, is there anything to be salvaged of a love that they both thought would be forever?
I read Knee Deep by Jolene Perry a couple of weeks ago and loved it so much I had to include it in our very first You Ought to Know Indie Friday feature. While I haven’t read any of Stephanie Campbell’s books yet, I was excited enough by Perry’s involvement to jump on the chance to read this. She has a big fan in me and I’m definitely going to have to go look up her backlist for some spare-time-reading.
My Heart for Yours is told in present tense, alternating first person POV, with Perry doing Delia’s part and Campbell writing Tobin’s. In between are small bits of poetry written by Perry/Delia. Alternating POVs has become my new favorite style, 1st or 3rd person and while present tense can take some getting used to, I’ve been reading enough of it lately that it only takes me a few pages to get into. So there, now that I’ve told you what the style is, I can tell you about all that other trivial stuff like characters, plot and things!
Fearless young Eamon tried a crazy stunt one time too many and his family is left mourning his death. Mom is a medicated mess, Dad can barely take care of her and is wandering around in shock the rest of the time so it’s up to his younger brother Tobin to hold things together. He’s been in his own bubble scraped out by grief, when he sees someone at Eamon’s wake he never wanted to look at again. His ex-girlfriend Delia has shown up in a fancy designer dress and expensive shoes, reminding him of the reasons they aren’t together anymore.
When Delia left Tobin, it broke her heart and seeing him again is stirring up old memories, good and bad. She came back because she loved Eamon too and she’s hoping for the closure with Tobin they never had, but he’s so angry. Delia is sick of who she’s become and decides to peel off the persona of a Washington D.C. politician’s daughter and find that real Louisiana girl who shows her cleavage for an illegal beer. Tobin and Delia have some serious issues to work through if they’re going to have any relationship, friends or more, and none of her new life can get in the way of that conversation.
This is a quick story, roughly novella-length, and it works for the amount of time Tobin and Delia have together. As they both re-think their relationship, there are flashbacks to happier times that don’t feel awkward, especially when they include the common thread of their love for Eamon. Some important scenes are seen from both Delia and Tobin’s points of view which made them especially stand out. I could tell you I really like both characters, but my praise would be weak if you asked me specifically why for each of them. Tobin is a nice Southern gentleman, loves his mama and is polite and cute. He’s a tiny bit of a hellraiser and protects what and who he considers his. Delia is loyal, even when the people she’s loyal to don’t necessarily deserve it. She tries to find the best in people, to keep the peace and please everyone – not necessarily perfect traits but she’s doing what she thinks is the right thing. The best thing about both of them is that they’re so normal. They make big mistakes, don’t know how to make them right or if they should, act selfishly, impulsively and in the end say to hell with it and take the risk with their own hearts.
One of the things that attracted me to Knee Deep was Perry’s willingness to tackle the sensitive subject of teenage domestic abuse. I just can’t go into what happened here between Delia and Tobin, but Perry and Campbell have taken another brave step, one I haven’t read before. I hope it will open some good conversation about the book and storyline and maybe even encourage other authors to tackle the subject in a sensitive and smart way.
I had entirely subjective feelings about the ending that were mostly responsible for keeping me from rating this higher. Obviously I won’t reveal what or how it happens, but it’s all taking place within the few days surrounding Eamon’s funeral. The deep romantic in me was dabbing her eyes with tissues but the pragmatic half was wondering what just happened.
My Summary: While parts of the story look like the typical poor boy falls for a rich girl with a jerk of a daddy who’ll do anything to keep them apart, there’s more to this than meets the eye. The alternating POVs, poetry and flashbacks are all done well and make this short story seem longer than it is giving Delia and Tobin a history that goes beyond the few days they’re together because of Eamon’s death. This is full of drama, a couple on the edge of adulthood ready to forgive and move on and if you believe in soulmates, you’ll really enjoy this.