by M.L. Garcia
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Published by: M.L. Garcia - October 15, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Romance, Sexual Assault, Stalking
Rating: 3 Stars
NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Her life seemed perfect...
Her best friend since childhood, was like a sister to her. Wherever she'd go, her best friend Christina, was usually nearby. It should have been a wonderful beginning into adulthood during her freshman year of college. Unfortunately, two horrible nights would shake her world to the core.
Innocence would be stolen, lives would be shattered
and a young life is lost. Nothing would ever be the same again for Daniela.
Daniela Franco stopped trusting others after a horrible ordeal she experienced, at the hands of people within her own hometown. With a past that relentlessly continues to control her life, she decides to protect herself by never allowing anyone to get close enough to destroy her world again.
For the past few years, focusing on work and school, staying away from the wild-college parties and keeping a tiny circle of friends, has kept her safe. But life has a way of changing things.
Her secrets from the past begin to slowly resurface, threatening to rock her world again in the dark and destructive ways it had years earlier.
Can Daniela face the demons from her past, when they are determined to finish what was started?
Will the people she has begun opening up to, be able to survive her secrets as well as their own?
With new friendships, chances to build trust again, the possibility of finding love and experiencing intimacy the way it is meant to be,
changes are certain.
Daniela must try to live with what she lost and with what will soon be found...
I was conflicted in rating this book because while the author nailed the behavior of a rape survivor (I am one), there were other aspects of the book I didn't like.
First, I'll begin with the creation of Daniela. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that either the author is the survivor of rape herself or knows first-hand the effects of PTSD. The way that the author revealed Daniela's post-rape personality and habits was spot-on. She described Daniela's fear of busy places, parties, wearing clothing that would show off her body, and her need to keep order and keep to herself. This once social butterfly now had few friends and certainly none of them were male. She also kept herself very busy with school and work, keeping her from having alone time to "think" as I call it. It was very refreshing to read a book about a rape survivor that was so realistic. As a survivor, I often shy away from these books because they're usually very contrived on what someone thinks a rape survivor would act like rather than how they really would.
Another aspect of being a rape survivor is that you think you deserve to be with other people who have baggage. You try to stay away from people you deem "normal" and stay with your own kind, so to speak. Daniela choosing to date Alex when she really wanted to be with Nathan made total sense to me, although I'm sure many readers didn't understand this. Again, it takes being a survivor to understand. It wasn't that she didn't have feelings for Alex; it's just that with his drug dealing baggage, he was a bit more human to her than Nathan. She felt like she would drag Nathan down if she dated him, and she cared too much about him to do that.
One part of the book that was partially a problem for me was the continual abuse behavior Daniela got caught up in. It felt a bit over the top to me until I stopped reading and really thought about it. Statistically, once you've been assaulted once, your chances of being assaulted again are very high. It's almost as if you have a neon sign on your forehead that says "victim." Predators truly can sense a survivor's fear; they can sniff it out. I myself have been assaulted by multiple people since the first time (I was also drugged the first time I was raped like Daniela was). While I was able to convince myself that the constant abuse she encountered was normal, I did feel like a bit too much was shoved into a short span of time. It seemed like a bit too much was being crammed into a semester.
On to the stalking . . . I can also comment on this because I too was stalked by a guy in the past. Again, I'm telling you, once you've become a victim, you are a beacon of light to these people. While I think the author has a good grasp on sexual assault, I felt like she knew nothing about stalking. This part felt a bit contrived. It was also very clear to me throughout the book who was doing the stalking, although Daniela seemed uber surprised when she found out.
Moving on to the writing style. I'm not a fan of present-tense writing, so I didn't like this aspect of the novel. This is a personal preference, though and nothing to fault the author on. I wasn't, however, sold on the sex scenes. I felt like I was reading a sex manual rather than a steamy connection between two lovers whenever this came up in the book. It just didn't do it for me. I also didn't think the book needed to end on a sex scene. It wasn't necessary (yes - I know there was an epilogue, but that happened right after the strangely placed sex scene). I also didn't really buy the way the coeds talked/thought. When I was in college, I never called other coeds "classmates." When introducing friends, I would never say, "Becky, this is my classmate, Tony." It just seemed weird, again like the author has never been in college and doesn't know how people in their early 20s speak. It just felt off.
Finally, the quick summation of who killed Christina and who went to jail for raping Daniela was strange. It was a quick 2-3 sentence blip at the end of the story. Daniela's whole essence is based on those two happenings and I thought it was strange that the author would just slough through talking about those things, getting Daniela's feelings on the results. The book tells us who went to jail, but not why Christina was killed or why Daniela was raped. Was Christina raped and murdered because she found out who raped Daniela? I wanted answers. With the entire foundation of the book resting on these answers, I felt very disappointed that we, the readers, didn't get any.