This book starts off with a fairly routine YA premise - a sixteen year old girl (TJ) finding herself dumped on her estranged father when the mother she despises dies. Coming from a wealthy, upmarket life style and a private school, she's faced with a new life in an impoverished, dying mining town where Latinos do what they can to survive. TJ's brother, Tony, the only person who cares about TJ, is a serving soldier due to return to active service, leaving her to cope on her own. Before he goes, he makes her promise to keep away from Roman, a young man working for her father.
It's obvious TJ isn't going to keep away from Roman. But many things about this novel are not obvious.
And then there's Roman. He's described as a seventeen year old juvenile delinquent who is sent to live with Ben as a form of rehabilitation. From the outset it's obvious he is dark and dangerous. But how dangerous? And who to?
In a way this is the usual YA coming of age story, but it is so much more. There's a thread of dark fantasy - or call it myth - which begins as a hint, then coalesces in the latter part of the book and brings it to a thumping, heart-stopping climax. It's a book about love, acceptance, sacrifice and redemption on many different levels. The characters are all well-developed, real people with pasts and futures and reasons.
The writing is sensual and evocative. This is no skim read. You have to pay attention or you'll miss things. Perhaps that is my only criticism. The description is rich and real.
I really enjoyed this book. My YA days are far behind me and it would be sad to imagine that this is just a story for 'teens'. It's not. I give it *****.
From the Author
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The 90 Day Rule (Sports romance)
The Conference (Contemporary romance, short story)
Roman (Saints and Sinners): Occult & supernatural, romance
The Shadow of This World (Historical romance)