on August 5th 2014
(336 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
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.
I honestly had no idea what to expect with this book. I wasn’t interested in it last year when it came out for some reason, and then I started getting more and more interested. I love hate-to-love romances and really needed something fluffy, after reading a couple of darker books.
This book was just what I needed: fluffy, cute, and a bit cheesy. It took some getting used to because I honestly don’t know the last book I read in first-person. It was a bit jarring at first because Jemma was essentially talking to the reader, instead of just narrating what she was doing. It was kind of cute though! This book certainly made me smile and keep reading.
Things I loved
Shipping them the hardest | Okay, their first kiss killed me for some reason. I loved the build-up to the romance in this book! It’s easily one of the best hate-to-love romances I’ve ever read. Add in the storm (more on that later) and I’m hooked. I was rooting for them right off the bat and thought they had the best chemistry in the beginning. Hearing about the eighth grade dance broke my heart, but it was such a sweet moment to move on from.
Southern setting, complete with tornadoes | I never thought I would like books set in the south for some reason. Maybe because life is different down there and I only saw stereotypes? Either way, I keep falling for every romance set in the south! It was fun to read about their families and their long history together. The hurricane/tornado situation was scary, but such a great event to bring the two of them together. I could really picture them huddled up in the house, freaked out but feeling safe together. It reminds me of some of the power outages I’ve had in my life – NOTHING compared to this though! I liked when the power would go out when I was a kid because we’d have candles and board games. They kind of did the same thing. It was just such a nice catalyst for their romance and sharing secrets.
Some serious stuff in the family | Despite not really getting to know her family that much, the issue with her sister hit close to home for me. I won’t share too much to spoil anything, but my mom had almost the exact same situation when I was around five years old. It’s scary and unpredictable, but thankfully everything is okay now. I know that her sister’s problem was really in the story to serve as the reason her family went out of town, but it was a good addition.
Addiction level | I couldn’t stop reading this. I think I read it in maybe two or three sittings? The pacing was pretty good, although I wish there was even more time spent during the storm. I kept thinking that there wasn’t much less to happen by way of plot development after the storm, but it continued with a few other things. I decided to be late to work to finish it 🙂
Things I didn’t like
One-dimensional side characters | We’re told that she has these best friends, but there’s so little interaction or information. I know that the focus was really on the romance and the storm, but still – I could have gone for a bit more development there. The family feels were pretty decent, especially with all the crazy stuff happening with her sister… but again, needed some more. A lot of telling instead of showing as far as side characters were concerned.
The situation with Patrick | I guess I just don’t see the point of including that plotline? It added a TINY bit of extra drama where it could have been avoided. Basically, Jemma starts sort of dating this bad boy in the school for two minutes, even though she doesn’t like him. THEN View Spoiler »he dies in the storm. She’s caught off guard and upset, and it derails things with Ryder for a little while. She feels bad that her last words to Patrick weren’t nice. « Hide Spoiler Jemma is understandably upset for a while, but the whole subplot wasn’t necessary. It didn’t add anything valuable to the story of Jemma and Ryder, except for extra drama.
Some of the writing style | I mentioned before, the first-person perspective took some getting used to because she was talking directly to the reader. It was cutesy and definitely worked with the story. I ended up liking it after a while, but it did feel cheesy at times.
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