Sweet by Erin McCarthy
Publisher: Penguin Group InterMix
Publication date: October 15th 2013
My rating: 4 stars
Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house.
Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself.
Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her…
I must admit I wasn’t sure I’d end up enjoying Sweet because it centered on Jessica, one of Rory’s friends I met in True. My opinion of her wasn’t very high, so I was pleasantly surprised that the story sucked me in so completely.
Jessica Sweet is the stereotypical “preacher’s daughter” in that when she got out from under her parents home, she partied and had casual hookups galore to the point she’s slept with a lot of her guy friends without any sort of strings attached. Jessica doesn’t want any strings with any guy, because she doesn’t want anyone to think they have the right or power to tell her what to do, like her parents did. Jessica can’t bear the thought of returning home for the summer, trying to act like the sweet virginal “preacher’s daughter” when she’s anything but. So she makes up a fake mission, spending the summer building houses for the needy, but actually stays in town close to campus.
When her rooming situation becomes a little complicated, she ends up crashing at an unlikely place: Riley Mann’s home, Tyler’s brother. This is a little awkward at first because Jessica and Riley have made hating each other a sport. Because Jessica doesn’t have many options, she makes nice. Being one on one with Riley, she slowly realizes what a great guy he is, caring for his younger brothers and shouldering the responsibility selflessly, and before you know it Jessica’s falling hard for him.
I got to know Jessica a little from the previous novel and didn’t really care for her. I didn’t like her casual ideas on sex, screwing a lot of her guy friends, and others whenever she felt the itch. I’m not being sexist, I don’t like it when guys have this attitude either because I think sex should mean something. Some might disagree with me, but that’s the beauty of opinions, everyone gets to have one. Plus, it bugged me that she (highlight text to see spoiler) slept with Tyler before Rory, and then paid him to “help” Rory out by sleeping with her, and thereby getting rid of her “pesky” virginity. See my review for my thoughts on that move. So, yeah, I wasn’t a huge fan of Jessica’s, so I was surprised how much I connected to her as I got to know her better. I didn’t always agree with her actions or her thoughts, but Jessica’s honesty and giving spirit was appealing. I loved watching her fall for Riley, and seeing the affect his character had on her views.
I had only love for Riley. In spite of appearances, and sometimes his mouth, he was such an honorable man. The care and love he showed for his brothers was moving. He had a crap situation but tried to make the best of it being the oldest brother.
Erin McCarthy continues to impress me with her original take on the New Adult category, and I’m excited for the next in the series: Believe. There was a teaser at the end, and it promises to be interesting considering what Robin has done. Oh, boy. I’m cringing just thinking about it, but I’m definitely reading it!
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