Towards the end of this story, the heroine has a revelation about why her mother always told her to take ‘ten tiny breaths’ whenever she felt anxious. It went right over my head. Was it the reason I thought, every time it was brought up? That you need to take a moment to calm down? Was it something more philosophical? This is a book that is desperately trying to be deep in an inch of water.
This book has many of the motifs that much of New Adult writing has embraced fully: the damaged hero/heroine is running away from something, and the only way he/she can be “fixed” is when some gorgeous neighbor/co-worker/devil’s spawn breaks through their protective outer shell. This book has than theme down pat. Kacey Cleary is that broken main character, and she tells us over and over again how no one, and I mean no one gets close to her. Period. It’s just her and her younger sister, Livie, now, and that’s how it’s going to stay. She is a walking “KEEP OUT” sign with a roundhouse kick.
Before running to Miami, Kacey and Livie live with their aunt and uncle in Michigan. Their parents were killed by a drunk driver, along with Kacey’s boyfriend and her best friend. Kacey was the sole survivor of the accident. She and Livie run away from Grand Rapids because her uncle blew their inheritance at the gaming tables, and has begun to look at Livie in a way that’s not appropriate (and that their ultra-religious aunt does not see). Once in Miami, Kacey is determined to keep her head down, keep pounding the bag at the gym, get Livie to Princeton, and get close to no one.
The set-up here is magnificent in its thoroughness. Every angle is covered, so you know exactly how “unexpected” each time somthings happens, starting with Kacey meeting her next-door neighbor, Storm. Storm is a bartender and sometime “performer” at a local strip club. Once Kacey allows Storm and her daughter, Mia, into her life (something that she is uncomfortable with and never does), Storm gets her a bartending job at Penny’s, too. Wary, but needing to boost her income, Kacey agrees. What’s great, though? This isn’t just your average, everyday kind of strip club. Oh no. It’s respectable! The owner doesn’t grope anyone or demand sexual favors. He really cares about the “girls.” Isn’t that cool? And Kacey, when she remembers to smile, is making money hand-over-fist.
And then there’s the neighbor on the other side, Trent. Oh Trent. He of the perfect body, blue eyes you can get lost in, amazing self-control. But Kacey can’t go there. Won’t he expect her to talk about the accident? Guess instead of talking, Kacey can fall back on old habits and just try to seduce him. ‘Cause obvs, he wants her. And this is different than all of those faceless sexual encounters she had in the past to block the pain. This feels real.
So it seems I am about to tell you every little bit about this book in Ten Tiny Paragraphs (because there is so much!). But I won’t. Let’s just say that what you think is coming does; what you think could happen doesn’t; and the niggling feeling you had since about 1/3 of the way into the book? Yep. You were right. And the ending? So unrealistic, even in a romance. It almost (almost) made me want to go to the gym and hit something.
Kacey is the fixer-upper girl, the one who, just as soon as she announces what she won’t do, does do. Look, Kacey. I understand you have issues. Who wouldn’t? But again, it’s the telling/not showing dilemma. The only reason I know about your troubles is because you told me. I never got a feeling for how much these actually impacted your life because I never saw them. There’s no depth to that kind of hindsight storytelling.
And as an aside, there’s something else here that annoys me so much. There is a time and place for profanity or using slang terminology that has curse words in it. I’m down with that. But when it is out of the blue (Kacey thinks the phrase “fuck buddy” at one point) it is so jarring. There wasn’t a lot of bad language here that I can remember, but there were a few occasions where things like this were said like they were nothing. I don’t have a problem with bad language if it fits. It’s as if the editor said “Spice this up a little with some F words! This is supposed to be New Adult” and they were put in randomly.
But since this book is all about forgiveness, then let it start with me. I forgive you for the random cussing.
Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker was published February 12, 2013 by Atria Books. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley.
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 14 and up
FYI: Sexual situations; profanity; underage drinking.