Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn’t really have a choice, born into a gang that has a chokehold on every kid that roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did then one day this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his.

He was loyal through it all. Loyal when prison took his dad away. Loyal when his face was touched by the cold metal of the rival gang’s gun. Loyal even though his mom begged him to run the moment she returned home from rehab.

He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It’s the only reason he stayed in school—to pretend. But he always fell back in line.

Loyal.

Riley Rojas didn’t belong in Tristan’s real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amidst rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pick-up into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before.

Tall enough to look him in the eyes and strong enough to fill his shadow, Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends—better than him sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend.

He couldn’t ask her to leave because she’d only dig her heels in deeper. He couldn’t ask because he didn’t want her to go. She was blurring his lines. She was testing his loyalty.

He was falling in love.

And it was going to tear him apart.

*Note:  This book was provided to The Book Hookup by the author but that did not in any way influence this review!

***All. The. Stars.***  If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would do it in a heartbeat!  This story is filled with the kind of despair that I prefer to imagine is not actually happening out in the real world although I know it is.  It’s filled with the kind of grit that shreds your heart and with the kind of sweet romance that acts like a balm to soothe it.  Every chapter…every page…every word owned my soul.  Without a doubt, this book has become my favorite Ginger Scott story of all time!

Riley and Tristan’s narrative is raw, complex, and honest.  Their connection is explosive but their obstacles seem insurmountable.  The angst that is the foundation of this story was both frustrating and alluring.  Frustrating because these characters deserved so much more than the situations they were born into – they are goodness and light yet still stuck beneath decisions that were made on their behalf…decisions which they had no control over.  Alluring because the fight was real…the determination to overcome was joyous to watch.  And, sometimes, or maybe more than sometimes, I enjoy a little heartache to got along with my bliss in books like this.  Ms. Scott delivered the perfect balance of hopelessness and the fighting spirit…of impossibility and tenacity to overcome.

Book Rating Breakdown
Cover
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
Swoons
Degree my heart was ripped out
Angst Me So Good
Overall:

In a word, this book is brilliant.  It breaks my heart that so many will not read it simply because it’s labelled a “young adult/new adult” story.  It is so much more than that.  It’s a peek into a world of fear and violence through the eyes and hearts of those who want more…of those who demand more.  And this kind of story, regardless of the age of the characters, should be on everyone’s reading list.  Do yourself a favor and pick this one up…there’s no way you’ll ever regret it.

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