Welcome to the Stay With Me review tour! I'm honored to be a part of the team that gets to share this book with you. I got off to a rocky start with Wait For You, sort of liked Trust In Me, but really enjoyed Be With Me. And of course, I have yet to dislike a "Jennifer L. Armentrout" book :D Read on, lovelies!
Stay With Me by J. Lynn
Book Three of the Wait For You series
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
***Warning: this book contains mature subject matter, and is for the eyes of mature readers***
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You and Be with Me comes a daring tale that pushes boundaries . . .
At 21, Calla hasn't done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.
But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.
Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn't give them her mom.
What I Liked:
Okay by now, you all have to know how much I have struggled with New Adult contemporary romance. Ever since the dawn of New Adult, I have basically disliked the vast majority of the NA contemporary romance novels out there, because they are all extremely formulaic, generic, carbon copies of each others... yawn. I definitely thought that was the case with JLA's Wait For You, and Trust In Me, but Be With Me was different, which I liked. I had a good feeling about this book, to be honest.
Calla is a friend of Teresa's, and she has a completely different life compared to Teresa and Avery's lives. Calla's mother drained Calla's bank account of all the money Calla had (which she needed to ay tuition) to buy drugs and whatnot. Calla goes home for the summer to clear things up, but only to find her bank account empty, her mother gone, the house (which Calla has not been to in years) a sanctuary for holding drugs... nothing in Calla's life is safe, or good. Jax, the guy who works at her mother's bar with Calla's uncle Clyde, looks out for Calla in so many ways. But drug kingpins are no joke, and Calla's mother is in deep, which is pretty problematic for Calla.
I love that this book isn't focused solely on the romance, or the heroine's tragic past, or whatever. It bothers me a little, how each of JLA's heroines of this series (so far) are all *severely* damaged in some way (rape, domestic abuse, first-degree burns and scar down the face), because it makes it seem like the majority of the population of college girls go through something as SERIOUSLY damaging as these three girls did... which isn't necessarily the case. Don't trivialize horrific life events. Not that I think JLA is doing that. Anyway.
Calla has a unique and tragic past, just like Avery and Teresa. Calla's house wasn't perfectly stable in its electric cables or something, so it basically blew up in Calla's face (literally), killing her two brothers and mangling her skin. Her father left her mother about a year later, and her mother turned to drugs. Years later, Calla's mother drained her bank account, and owes millions of dollars to the drug lord Isaiah.
This is the central issue of the book. Calla needs to figure out how to pay for her tuition, and how to not get caught in Mona's crazy crap... although, she is already involved, just by coming home. Calla wouldn't have survived coming back if not for Uncle Clyde, Jax, Roxy, and Katie (all new characters). Uncle Clyde is the rock in Calla's life. Roxy and Katie are amazing friends, and support Calla always.
Jax... Jax might be my favorite hero of this NA series. Jax doesn't necessarily have a troubled past himself, but he lives in this town - he knows too much about drugs and interactions and getting violent and getting information and all of that. He was never involved with drug dealers or drugs in general, but it's tough growing up in that atmosphere. He's a Marine (sexy man in a uniform), and he is quite the guy. I really like him. He's super honest, super blunt, super nice, gentle, affectionate... not entirely the macho alpha type, though he is. In a quieter sense.
While I mentioned that the romance isn't the only thing going on, it's totally there, and it's important. Jax and Calla fall in love, but it's not easy for Calla. Being scarred... she doesn't see herself as "pretty", but Jax doesn't care about her scars. He appreciates them, and sees the beauty in them (honestly, that makes sense, especially for someone who was involved in the Marines Corp). I really like the romance, because it isn't about two people who are lost and find each other and themselves. Calla might seem a little lost, but the romance is more about two people that find each other and go from there. Instant connection, but slow growth of relationship.
This book is seriously long, but the story is really great. JLA is a really good storyteller, I have to give her that. She's written so many books and even though a lot of her characters start to sound the same, the stories always vary. Which is fantastic! I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series, when it comes time.
What I Did Not Like:
I mentioned a few things above - I almost wish the heroines that JLA creates in this particular NA series weren't so far on the extremes of having tragic pasts or being damaged or whatever. Not every college girl has life-threatening or body-endangering experiences like Avery, Teresa, and Calla all have. Seriously, I promise.
Also - JLA's heroines totally all sound the same, after a while. Katy = Avery = Teresa = Calla = Maddie = Sydney = Layla = Samantha = Serena. Not going to lie, it gets old really fast.
Would I Recommend It:
Sure, sure, if you like New Adult contemporary romance, if you like JLA, sure! If you're not a fan of NA contemporary romance, then ehhh, your life won't change if you read this one, your life won't change if you don't read it. If that makes sense!
4 stars. This is definitely the best book of this series yet. There is so much more depth to the story, and the romance really isn't central (in my opinion). Love that direction that JLA is taking her New Adult contemporary romance novels!
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About the Author:
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math.
Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.