Monday, June 8, 2015

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Scorched
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Stars: 3
Goodreads Link

For those of you who don't know, I absolutely adore Jennifer L. Armentrout. She's probably one of the sweetest, most fun, most down to earth authors I've ever met. I've had the pleasure of meeting her three times now: at Bookcon 2014, at Apollycon 2015, and at BEA 2015. She's literally a book machine. She cranks out books like crazy. Yet somehow she doesn't lose quality; she manages to maintain both quality and quantity.

For those who are unaware of what Scorched is about, here's the synopsis:

Sometimes life leaves a mark…

Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.

Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.

Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock bottom, only she can save herself.

Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…

I originally thought that Scorched was going to mark Armentrout's loss of quality. It started off as a canned, steamy romance. It really didn't have any depth. It was the typical "he's a manwhore, but I'm still attracted to him ugh." After that introduction, there was the cliche, fast-paced "maybe he does have more depth than that." And then there was the expected "let's f*ck like rabbits" when they finally worked out their differences. But after this stereotypical first third of the book, it finally picked up.

I like to think that Scorched has two different plots. There's the romance, as previously described. But then there's the more serious, more important plot. There's the meaningful exploration of undiagnosed mental disorders, anxiety, and self-medicating as a form of coping. The main character, Andrea, binge drinks. Everyone else sees that she has a problem, but she brushes it off. She insists that she's in control. The entire story builds up, with her trying to justify her problems and trying to be the girl that she thinks Tanner deserves.

The end was absolutely amazing. I loved the last fourth of the book. There was such an astounding level of forgiveness and such a fantastic depth to the characters. That last section of the book redefined Armentrout's work. Yes, Armentrout has always been a lovely writer who adds such lovely realism (she includes references like Tumblr and One Direction that make everything feel so close to home). Yes, she has always written incredible romances and relationships. Yes, she writes a great story. But this time, she wrote more than that. She wrote a book that deals with a serious issue that is so rarely talked about--a reassuring novel that shows that redemption is possible. That even when you hit rock bottom, you can get back to the top. It was truly moving and I'm proud to be able to say that I read it.

Yes, I gave it 3 stars, merely because of the first third. I couldn't handle the steamy romance; it wasn't exactly my genre. I love New Adult as much as the next girl, but I felt that this was a bit out of my realm.

But if I could rate the last fourth of the book as a standalone? Definitely 5 stars. Congratulations to Ms. Armentrout for exquisitely handling such an important topic.