*I am re-posting my review as part of the blog tour.*
Scroll down to read GUEST POST & to enter GIVEAWAY
★ My Review ★
Rating: 4.5 stars
“Love comes in all kinds of packages. Some are neatly tied up, and some are messy. It doesn’t mean that the messy ones aren’t every bit as good.”
Oh holy hell. S. Walden has done it again. Not only has she written an in depth, thought provoking book, that makes you question what is right and wrong, but she had me consumed by it for the entire day. I did nothing but sit and read this book.
“Well, that was decided. This was more than a silly schoolgirl crush. This was deeply disturbing infatuation.”
Just like in her previous books, she addresses a controversial topic – a relationship between a 28 year old teacher and his 17, almost 18, year old student. Everyone will have their own opinion on this matter, but regardless of what you believe, S. Walden will make you question it. She will make you really wonder and take a look at whether your beliefs are a black and white or whether they are in the gray area, depending on the circumstances.
“I didn’t suddenly overnight become a drug addict or career criminal. I made one bad choice that branded me for life, at least in my parents’ eyes.”
Cadence Miller is pretty much the perfect girl – beautiful, smart, Christian, sweet – until she ends up in juvenile detention for ten months for one mistake in judgment. When she comes back for her senior year of high school, she is the social outcast, has no friends and zero freedom since her parents do not trust her. And then she meets Mark Connelly – gorgeous, great sense of style and music, caring, thoughtful, and also her teacher.
“He was eye candy – he had to know it – and every one of his female students had an insatiable sweet tooth.”
This wasn’t the situation where Cadence immediately fell in love and all rational thought went out the window. And this wasn’t a time when Mark threw caution to the wind because he had to have her. No, their relationship definitely took time to reach a point of crossing the line, despite the fact that it was blatantly obvious that they both felt something for one another. They both knew it was wrong, they both knew they should stay away, and ultimately, they both succumbed to their feelings.
“I wasn’t a complete idiot. I know this was all wrong, and I knew I had to confront the possibility that Mr. Connelly was a bad man. A user. An exploiter. So why didn’t I believe any of it?”
What I thought was interesting was that S. Walden could’ve handled this situation all differently. She could have made Mark and Cadence closer in age so that readers could jump on board easier. She could have made Cadence throw all rational though out and focus on the fact that she wanted her teacher. She could have made the reader completely on board with this romance. But, if you’ve ever read any of her books, you’d know S. Walden does not take the easy way out.
“I realized that Mr. Connelly was one of the only nice men in my life right now. Did he sense that? And was he taking advantage of it?”
Instead, she makes you feel every emotion possible, including the ones that are not usually wanted. I felt uncomfortable, I felt mortified, I felt disappointed, I felt confused, I felt doubtful, I felt happiness. Bottom line: I felt something, everything. There were times where I felt like I should NOT be rooting for Mark and Cadence, where I felt like it was just wrong and not right. Then there were times were I WAS rooting for them, wanting them to get their Happily Ever After. There were times where I thought there was NO WAY this book could ever end good.
I wanted to slap both characters at times. They weren’t perfect, they were flawed. Mark will not make the top of my book boyfriend list. I had a love/like/dislike relationship. I never hated him though. There were times where I swooned over him. There were times where I thought he should have known better. There were times where he disappointed me. But, all in all this is what made him real to me.
“No, Cadence. My name is Mark Connelly. And I’m about to give you the most explosive orgasm of your life.”
And Cadence was a mess of contradictions. She is Christian, she has morals and values. But she also broke them. She wanted her parents to forgive her and give her freedom, yet she made decisions that prevented them from doing that. She was brave and irritating at the same time. The jury is still out on her for me, but I only think that is because it has been ten years since I’ve been her age and I really don’t remember being so all over the place and melodramatic. I’m sure I was, but I think I’ve blocked it out.
In this book, S. Walden colors outside the lines. She doesn’t conform to the ‘rules’ and she pushes the boundaries. I was a fan of hers before, but now, I will absolutely read anything she writes. It’s authors like her that I want to read more of. Someone who will make reading interesting and thought provoking, someone who makes me really think about my own feelings and beliefs. It’s authors like her that make reading eye-opening and worth it.
This is not a stand alone; however, there is NO cliffhanger. That being said, everyone’s definition of cliffhanger is differently but rest assured, the story does not end abruptly, there is no one left on the edge of death, there is no huge surprise that pops up at the very end. However, this is far from the end of Mark and Cadence’s story. There is a second book; however I recommend you read this one now.
★ ★ ★
★ Guest Post: Cadence Darling by S. Walden ★
*NOTE: If you have NOT read GOOD, then I do not recommend you read any further as there are spoilers from the book in this Guest Post*
Okay, I actually laughed out loud when I wrote that line—the one where Mark says to Cadence in the Walgreens, “Darling, this is a perfect one.” It’s so absurd, so off. At first I wondered where it came from. I laughed, and then I stared at my laptop screen wondering about my motives, intentions. Did I want it to mean anything at all? Seriously, what 28-year-old man calls his girlfriend “darling”? And then I kept writing, and Cadence’s response just tumbled out. It was so silly and unfocused in what was supposed to be a pretty tense scene. She’s shopping for a pregnancy test, for Pete’s sake! And suddenly she can’t focus on anything but “darling.”
And that’s Cadence.
I want to think Cadence is my most endearing heroine to date (though that’s debatable). Her naiveté has been labeled “annoying.” Her youth described in bitter tones as “immature.” So maybe I missed the mark with the “endearing” thing, but I do find her interesting for a number of reasons.
She is naïve, and in this particular story, she needed to be. Her relationship with Mark would have been completely different had she been worldly and knowledgeable about everything. I believe the story would have lacked its sweetness, its goodness. Plus, Mark wasn’t looking for some worldly chick anyway (but that’s explored in Better). I do give you insight into his thoughts about her goodness in the alternate POV “Drunk Cadence” scene featured during this tour on True Story Book Blog. My point? I wanted her youthful. I wanted her wide-eyed. I wanted her pure. Because all of these are irresistible traits to a man who is desperate to be near something “shiny and new.” To hold it and breathe it in. When you’re broken, you’ll do anything for that kind of imperfect perfection.
That’s how I see Cadence. She’s imperfect and says stupid things sometimes and acts young, and that’s why she’s perfect for Mark. He’s seen too much, has suffered too much, has become jaded and stoic and sore. But that need in him for redemption—and I’m not talking in spiritual terms—that need will do anything. It will continue to hope. It will continue to dream. It will seek forgiveness anywhere. And that need in him found the answer in her. She just doesn’t know it yet. She’ll understand it in Better.
Regardless of Cadence’s naiveté, I think she does exhibit signs of maturity and strength. She sees what Mark’s doing and questions it. A silly, foolish girl would just gush all over the idea of a teacher showing her interest, but Cadence doesn’t. She questions his motives. Sure, she has her schoolgirl crush moments: My girlish heart and brain thought it might be a flower or box of chocolates. But then she turns right around and thinks this: I realized that Mr. Connelly was one of the only nice men in my life right now. Did he sense that? And was he taking advantage of it?
On the flipside, I also think that Cadence is terribly lonely and that her loneliness drowns out the warnings in her heart. Sure, she wrestles with those warnings, but her loneliness wins out in the end. Just as Mark is so desperate for her goodness, so, too, is she desperate for his kindness, his attention. Needy attraction, you might say. And that, to me, is the most interesting part of her character. While she’s needy and lonely, she recognizes it. So the decision to be with Mark is a conscientious one. It’s not some “throw caution to the wind” urge she acts upon. It’s a slow buildup, a constant thinking, a gradual acceptance of him. It’s also a decision based on faith. I see a lot of strength in that. It takes strength to have faith in another human being.
I’m excited to grow her character in the sequel. I’m excited to see where she ends up. But I believe she will always retain a certain naïve sweetness, and for whatever reason, I think of summertime watermelon. I see her sitting on a blanket with Mark eating a slice, juice collecting in the corners of her mouth, and he’s not listening to a word she says because all he can think about is tasting the sweetness on her lips.
★ ★ ★
★ About S. Walden ★
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.
Other Books by S. Walden
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★ ★ ★
★ The Giveaway ★
One Winner Will Receive: a Signed paperback of GOOD, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… CD, the notes that Mark and Candace wrote to one another, an Amazon Gift Card and an iTunes Gift Card
Two Winners Will Receive: Signed paperbacks of GOOD
Click HERE to Enter