Desert Isle Keeper
Finding It is proof that, sometimes, a good book can make a bad initial impression. I’ll be honest, when I first started reading, I was groaning out loud at the thought of trying to finish this book. Kelsey came off as so obnoxious I really didn’t know how I would manage. When we meet Kelsey Summers, she is drinking, dancing, and sleeping her way through Europe on daddy’s credit card. In the first few chapters she made such terrible decisions that I wanted to scream and shake her. But I’m glad I kept going though because it doesn’t take long to realize that Kelsey is as tired of herself as I was already, and Finding It ended up as a great read.
I’ve seen a number of New Adult books suffer from what I think might be older authors that are out of touch with what it means to be college age. They seem to think that all it means to be a college girl is texting, binge drinking, and either being promiscuous or a virgin (with no middle ground), and acting the role of damsel in distress for some sexy boy. My initial impression of Finding It indicated that this story could easily go that route. Luckily, there is more to Kelsey than originally meets the eye. She escapes some of the New Adult tropes, although she does continue to be rescued by the sexy boy time and again, to become a deeper character. Kelsey has been using her partying as an attempt to run from her unhappy family life and childhood issues, but even she knows that the act is wearing thin. When she meets the sexy and mysterious Jackson Hunt at a bar in Budapest, he sets out to show her that living, truly living life, does not mean drinking and partying. Hunt convinces her to give him one week to take her on a real adventure.
The pair set off on a whirlwind trip around Europe, traveling by train, sleeping in hostels, and exploring all continent has to offer. Of course, they begin to fall in love as well. Hunt is very reserved in his interactions with Kelsey and refuses to offer too much about himself or allow their relationship to advance sexually. The result is page after page of knock-out sexual tension. I was totally feeling Kelsey’s sexual frustration with Hunt and, oh my goodness, there were some crazy hot scenes, made all the better by how restrained they were. I think it takes a huge talent to write a kiss that is steamier than a whole book of erotica, but apparently Carmack has that skill.
Having read all three of the books in this series, I will definitely praise Carmack for managing to stand out from the New Adult crowd. Although each book has some connection to the quickly-becoming-stale New Adult tropes, such as the college girl desperate to lose her virginity, the friends pretending to be a couple, and the party girl finding love, she manages to take the emotional depth to a level that other authors just aren’t reaching. Being a young woman herself, I think she is more in touch with what is means to be a millennial and realizes that being young does not preclude emotional depth.
As I said, Kelsey made a horrendous first impression but I think this ended up serving the book well. We are so clearly able to see her development as a character and her emotional growth. She starts off needing to learn what it means to be an adult and ends up better for her experiences. Hunt helps to set her maturation in progress, but it does not depend totally on him. I was incredibly pleased with how she had grown into an independent woman by the time I turned the last page.
Hunt spends most of the book as a mystery to us and Kelsey, but I liked his personality. He tries so hard to be chivalrous and take care of Kelsey and never once ends up being the overly possessive, violent loser that populates most New Adult books. His affection for her is evident and healthy. It was obvious that he desperately wanted their time together to be special. He had already seen how casually Kelsey viewed her sexuality and spends the book striving to make their relationship mean something before giving in.
Although the final plot twist won’t leave anyone gasping in surprise, it did not subtract from my overall enjoyment. I really liked the two previous books, Losing It and Faking It , so I am happy to say that this book is equal to those in quality. It may have even been my favorite of the three, all though it’s hard to say because Bliss’ story was so good. I think the sexual tension in this book beats out the other two, hands down.
If you’ve been leery of the New Adult genre, Cora Carmack’s books would be the perfect place to start reading. They are the stand-alone quality novels in the sea of New Adult clones that I have found. I will be keeping all three on my shelf to read again eventually and I look forward to what’s next from this author.