The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre
Book Three of the 2B trilogy
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this book contains mature subject matter, and is for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney's social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she's made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore.
Max knows about feeling lost and trying to move beyond the pain he's been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it's time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney's the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything because the more time he spends with Courtney, the harder it is to reconcile what he wants and what he thinks he deserves.
It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that's ever been broken, there's another that can make it complete.
What I Liked:
If anything has been confirmed in this book, it is that I really, really like Max. I liked him in the other books, but I really liked him, the true him, the him that we don't get to see until this book. He is easily my favorite part of this book!
Courtney has moved in as Lauren moved out. Now that Nadia is moving out, a new girl, Kia, is moving in with Courtney, to make the quad Angus, Max, Courtney, and Kia. Courtney and Max are close (as friends)... and they get even closer when Max asks Courtney to come home with him to his grandfather's funeral. Courtney doesn't quite realize how crazy and tragic Max's life and past were until she went to the funeral. Things change between them, for better or for worse, but it's not only Max that has a past that hurts...
Like I said, Max is the best part of this book. It would have been so cool to have had Max's perspective, instead of Courtney's - or maybe both. I'm not always a fan of dual perspectives, but it would have worked in this series. Max seems like a player and a flirtatious, totally not serious guy, but he's really none of those things. Well, he is, but it's a front. His past is pretty rocky. I really felt for the guy. With all that happened between him and his father, I think it was brave to go back for his grandfather's funeral, even if it was his grandfather.
Max is actually the sweetest guy. He bared it all for Courtney, left nothing up for interpretation, put it all on the line. It actually surprised me how honest and open and forthcoming he was - most guys that SEEM like him (the front, the surface) play the game and string the girl along, without telling her how he feels. But Max is very open and honest.
I didn't like Courtney initially in the series - she was okay, but I didn't really connect with her. I still don't really connect with her, but I at least like her. She has an interesting past as well - with the dead ex-boyfriend who seemed to be her soul mate, and parents like hers... well, I won't ruin Courtney's past for anyone. Aguirre took her sweet time revealing Courtney's past/home life to readers, which was definitely the right instinct.
In terms of the typical New Adult contemporary romance angst and cliches and tropes, there definitely were some in this book - Max's past was definitely trope-y and almost cliche, in terms of an NA novel, but not to the point where I was like, really?! And Courtney wasn't your typical female protagonist - she was a lot tougher and more adventurous than most. No blushing virgin or timid girl, paired with a sex god male protagonist.
I like the progression of the character development in both Courtney and Max. Obviously it's more clear when it comes to Courtney's development, since this book is written in her first person perspective. She really changes, as she lets go of her dead boyfriend and opens up to Max. Max, on the other hand, finally lets himself be happy with a girl he cares about, finally makes peace with his brother. Both Max and Courtney overcome a lot in this book.
The romance is really sweet. Well, sweet might not be the best way to describe the fiery chemistry between Courtney and Max, but the relationship itself and its progression is sweet. I loved seeing Max and Courtney go beyond friendship and make things work as a couple. They are the cutest!
The story is pretty engrossing - I was never disinterested, and wanted to know what Courtney would do next. There were some plot points that I originally thought were random and just randomly thrown in there, but as I kept reading, I saw how they fit in the story. The climax revolved around the two protagonists and their relationship, but it worked, especially with how it related to Courtney and her home life. The ending is great! Aguirre includes an epilogue of six years later, which is both awesome and bittersweet, since this is the last novel in the series. Love!
What I Did Not Like:
I'm so meh about Courtney, honestly. I mean, I like her more than I did previously in the series, and I like her and Max together, but her character is so questionable sometimes. I can't go into detail because that would totally ruin things for people, but like, why would she stoop to such a level, with her parents? If she thinks she's so independent? Maybe it's so hard for me to see because I'm a lot like Max, in which I work for everything I have. Anyway. Something about Courtney just doesn't sit well with me.
Would I Recommend It:
If you've enjoyed the first two books, definitely give this one a shot! I really liked I Want It That Way, and I thought As Long As You Love Me was pretty great, so I'm certainly glad that I kept reading. This is a good New Adult contemporary romance series - as far as NA contemporary romance goes. Says the girl that generally hates New Adult contemporary romance!
4 stars. A series well-written, Aguirre! I can't say that I usually enjoy NA contemporary romance novels, but your series is definitely worth reading!
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