The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen
Normally I’d sit on this review until I’ve had a chance to read the rest of the books in this series, but I’ve decided to post it now. The primary reason is that I’m not sure I will continue reading the series. Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely be reading other novels by Sarina Bowen, but after reading through the synopsis of the next two books, I’m not super excited to get into them. So I’ll post this now, and down the road if I decide to continue the series I will update this post. But this shouldn’t detract you from reading this one. It’s great!
Overall Rating: 4 (sXe)
Quick & Dirty summary: Corey Callahan has only had eight months to accept her new situation in life. After years of playing hockey, an injury has forced her off the ice and into a wheelchair. While she could have delayed entering college a year, Callahan is excited to begin college at Harkness and gain some independence. But when she meets her handsome neighbor, Adam Hartley, she’ll have to adjust to yet another new situation: crushing after a guy with a girlfriend. Hartley and Callahan become close friends, working together to overcome their physical difficulties, but will Hartley realize that his relationship with Callahan goes deeper than just neighbors who lean on each other? And is he as courageous as Callahan when it comes to facing uncomfortable situations honestly and earnestly?
So, while the summary sounds like it could be a sweet romance, don’t mistake this for a chaste novel. This book is hot. The love that develops between Corey and Adam is beautiful, but it’s also real. At that age and time in their lives, sex is important, and the way that Sarina Bowen handles the difficulties of sex for a person in a wheelchair is incredibly sensitive and thoughtful, but also graphic as all get out.
I love the way these two characters get together. They have a class together, they share a common love of hockey, they play video games together, they eat together, they have intimate conversations, and they genuinely fall in love. This isn’t one of those stories where they fall in love at first sight… well (SEMI-SPOILER ALERT)… it is, but you don’t know that until the end of the novel. And I love that too! That there are things that you kind of assume or take for granted, like how they call each other by their last names, but then in the end, when Hartley calls Callahan by her first name, it means so much more. The impact just socks you in the gut.
There are other things to enjoy about this novel. There is a lot of humor in it. The pacing of the novel is great—nothing drags on forever. The secondary characters are alive, but they don’t overpower the story line. And the writing and dialogue is strong and smooth. There isn’t a whole lot not to like, other than the weird turn around with one particular female character at the end of the novel (uh, Stacia being nice?), but since I haven’t read the subsequent novels, it may all make sense within the larger series and I’m just clueless.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle free)
Yes, you saw that correctly! Right now, as of this post, the first book in the series is FREE! Obviously I recommend buying it.
Something else you might enjoy:
I have been all about hockey lately, probably because the NHL season just started. In any case, read the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. You can read my review of the first two novels here.