I should know better by now: never get a New Adult Romance! I don't enjoy the genre much at all!
The cover really drew me to the story, and the fact that I thought it was a street racing book, along the lines of Fast and Furious series, but that wasn't the case. Instead, we get a somewhat suspenseful story that ends in a cliffhanger, a major pet peeve of mine.
For some reason though, I just couldn't get really into this story. It started slow and then plodded along before suddenly picking up pace. I really couldn’t connect with the characters, either. I felt that much of what we learned about both of them was an extremely shallow look at them, which made it difficult for me to become fully invested in them, their past, or what they were facing together in the present.
Jasper is the Hometown Bad Boy trying to make good by helping to revitalize the city, but it comes across as self-serving more than anything else. He and his 4 friends/partners were in and out of trouble as youths, and only when someone took a slight interest in teaching them about cars did they turn things around. They felt that they were products of being children of single moms that weren't coping with it well, which is a total crock, because they had the choice of being hooligans, not their mothers. Time has not changed them, instead they've grown up to be total man sluts! Jasper being one of the worst of the lot, along with being pretty reckless in other areas of his life as well, which leads him into getting into a lot of trouble! Trouble that he could have avoided if he hadn't indulged himself as much as he had one night. It all really made me dislike him as a hero.
On the other side of the equation, you have Charlotte "Charlie" Lane who has just come back to town for a job with an online blogging company that is sponsoring Jasper and his team, but she also has a side mission. Jasper is pretty hostile towards Charlotte over her leaving him 20 years ago and also for thinking her father had to have been stealing money from the company where his dad worked and lost his life in an explosion that killed hundreds of workers and devastated the town. Jasper's hostility really bugged me, as she was just 8 years old when her father just up and left with the family. Not like she had a lot of choice in the matter at that age! She's grown up with the stigma of the entire town thinking her dad was a dirty cheat, running away with what money the company had, and her side mission is to prove his innocence. The stigma makes Charlotte a very mousy character, not wanting to stand up for herself and make waves, which I hated. She had so much potential and it was wasted because she was too wrapped up in what people thought of her.
The story is told in the past and present, another annoyance, but as we get to know Jasper and Charlotte, it’s clear that they were meant to be a romantic couple. With Charlotte’s father at the forefront of the investigations into the factory explosion, she must clear his name before she can move on. The mystery of some things from the factory explosion and a few murders current day keep the suspense going and the reader guessing. That suspense angle finds both Jasper and Charlotte in danger, but it felt very contrived as well.
After nearly DNF’ing this quite a few times, I’m pretty sure I won't continue the series and will probably avoid the author in the future.