Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning. – Goodreads
When I read Flat-Out Love last year I fell in love with Jessica Park’s infusion of wit, humor, and all around heart in her story. I was excited to find out she had another book coming out in the near future and I quickly jumped at the chance to read Left Drowning when I saw it on Netgalley.
There was a lot that I enjoyed with the relationships in the story. I easily grew attached to the friendships formed, especially with Sabin, and I liked how the entire group was their own little makeshift family as they navigated through their highs and lows. Their dynamic was often full of hilarious moments, but they also relied on each other through heavy stuff so I was happy to see genuine friendships form.
Unfortunately, I hit some road bumps with the story along the way. I would have enjoyed more development with Blythe’s character, particularly a closer look into her past before the Shepherd family came into the picture, because I feel her difficulties during that time would have been important to explore. I would have also enjoyed a slower progression between her and Chris, and even with the other Shepherd family members, because they seemed to move so quickly from acquaintances to BFFs (and lovers in Chris’ case). I know some people immediately click together, but it didn’t really make sense to me in Blythe’s case since she had shut herself off so much before.
The romance was intense, with them very quickly growing attachments to each other and such, and I did enjoy some of their moments, but I was a little put off by the focus on sex. I suppose it was important to Blythe’s character in a way, but I feel like the scenes were at times too long and repetitive. I honestly felt more sexual tension between the characters in Flat-Out Love, where there was no sex scene, than Chris and Blythe here. Not to say sex scenes can’t be meaningful, but I think their relationship in the book could have benefited from something more.
Overall, I was disappointed that Left Drowning seemed to follow the usual New Adult formula of sex! sex! sex! versus the different focus Jessica Park had in Flat-Out Love, which was also NA. I think she’s a strong writer, and I’m sure many other readers will absolutely fall in love with Left Drowning, but I hope she takes a different direction in her next project.
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