Harper was framed for a crime she didn’t commit, and now she’s being shipped off to Rhode Island to live with her father while her mother remains in New York, desperate to live among the rich and famous and indifferent to her daughter’s absence. The timing is awkward, as Harper will be transferring to Wellesley Prep during the second half of her junior year, with kids she barely knows. The one good thing is that Nina, her best friend, will be right there with her.
Before school starts, though, Harper’s father is already abandoning her to go on a romantic vacation with his new girlfriend and leaving Harper alone. It wasn’t unexpected, but it still hurts. If it weren’t for the mysterious Order of Six inviting her to join their secret club, Harper might have had the time to think about it more, but now there’s something else to take her attention. Instead of worrying about leaving her friends and life behind, being alone in an empty house, and her father still not really wanting her in his life, Harper’s now on a scavenger hunt with Nina and the twins, handsome Adan who can’t take his eyes off Harper, and his twin sister, Valentine, who Harper can’t keep her own eyes off of.
There Can Only Be Six is first volume in the Rose and Compass series and it is a light, fun little adventure. There are clues to be found, riddles to be solved, traps to get caught in — and get out of — and a secret club pulling the strings. Each of the characters has their moment to solve a problem, or at least help, and for all that Harper is often wrong-footed, not as familiar with the local lore, landmarks, or people, she’s more than willing to pitch in and do her part.
Harper is an unashamed lesbian, a friendly and gregarious person who very much wants to impress Valentine — V to her friends; Harper can call her Valentine. She’s cautious, thoughtful, and easily pushed into situations (and clothing) she’s not always comfortable simply because it’s easier than making a scene. And maybe other people know more than she does, maybe other people have a better idea. It doesn’t help that she’s conflict avoidant, only standing up for other people and never herself. Harper has a generous heart, for all that it’s been battered by her parents casual neglect.
Valentine comes across, at first, as haughty and cruel, needing to be the center of attention, needing to be in control. But after the death of her father and her mother’s descent into drink, Valentine learned that the only one she could truly count on was herself. For all that she loves her twin, his temper has been an issue in the past, so much so that he was sent to reform school, leaving her alone with her mother. Now that Valentine has him back she clings to him, to the stability she thinks he offers. But Adan is interested in girls — Harper especially — and Valentine is terrified of being left behind. She’s not trying joining the order for the power, or the mystery, or the prestige of being in one of the most powerful secret cabals in the world. She wants the security, to know that there are people out there who will be there for her. That, no matter what it is, a wedding or a graduation or simply a bad day, there will be five other people at her side.
And then there’s Harper, Harper who looks at her with heat in her eyes. Whose touch lingers, who offers smiles and the lightest of touches, who looks to her for strength and guidance while offering support at the same time. The two of them are just starting their relationship — or are ending it, depending on which one of them had the last word — as the book ends. I am very much looking forward to book 2.
This is well written and plotted, with a fun mystery and enjoyable characters, and it’s a fun YA read. Everything is light and surface deep with a bit more telling than showing, and the feel of it is very much like a teen soap opera. But what it does it does well, and if you’re looking for a quick, cute read, then I do suggest you give this one a try.