Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Kai Manter is a senior in high school and spends his evenings at Coed Joe’s, a cafe for the college crowd, where he sings and plays his guitar he has lovingly named Sheila. Kai has been through a string of guys, but he sees Jamie Arlotta, a server at the cafe, and can’t help but pursue him. In the beginning, Kai just wants to get in Jamie’s pants. Jamie is gorgeous but prickly, and he’s not about to give in to Kai’s efforts to seduce him.
After a few failed attempts to get Jamie to go out with him, and Jamie’s blatantly bitchy attitude about it, Kai’s all but given up. But when he realizes that Jamie’s hard demeanor is a protective measure against something bad that’s happened to him, he becomes more determined to break through it and make Jamie part of his life. Kai does this by playing his musical “interventions” at the cafe every night, each with a different theme that he hopes will get through to Jamie.
Each night, Jamie’s wall breaks down a little further, until he agrees to spend time with Kai. Kai falls for him quickly, but is unprepared to discover the truth about Jamie’s past. Jamie’s been abused by his step-brother for many years, and he continues to pursue Jamie in order to continue their “relationship.” Kai is instantly protective of the young man he’s developed strong feelings for and, with the help of Kai’s own amazing brother, he’s determined to help Jamie overcome the past and start to build a life together.
This is a YA book and really does seem marketed toward a younger audience. However, the subject matter is a sensitive topic — that of incest and rape. This is not to say the topic should not be covered, because I think it’s important and I applaud the author for taking it on. I’m just providing a warning for people who are buying books for a younger audience. There is only implied sex and it’s handled very sweetly. I think the use of music in this book would also appeal to a young adult. It keeps things young and fresh, even while handling such a difficult topic.
I thought the character of Jamie was well-developed, and my heart broke for him as he struggled through years of abuse with no one he could turn to. One of the problems I had with this book, though, is aside from Kai’s older brother, Chuck, I really didn’t like any of the other characters. Kai was a talented young man who seemed determined to help Jamie, but I felt like his relationship with him was more a project. I had a difficult time accepting that he was in love with Jamie. I think this could’ve been in large part to Kai’s commitment to calling Jamie “dude,” “man,” or “bud” repeatedly and often, even when they were at the height of their romantic relationship. I’m not saying everyone should use lovey-dovey nicknames, but reading these words over and over again not only annoyed me, it made the bond between Jamie and Kai seem more on a friendship level rather than romance.
Overall, this was a good book. There was nothing I really loved about it, but I didn’t dislike it either. It tackles a difficult subject and does a decent job of it, but I didn’t feel particularly drawn in by the characters or the plot. I think more authors should be as brave as Kendrick and write about the heavier subjects for a YA audience.