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Monday, 10 October 2016

Bloo's Reviews | Second Half by Monica DeSimone

"I could be that tree that bends in the wind. And survive."
Second Half

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5
Author: Monica DeSimone
Series: Coach's Shadow Trilogy
Release: Available Now
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Second Half by Monica DeSimone is the first instalment of the Coach's Shadow Trilogy and the first book I have read by this author. As such, I had no idea what I was in for but after reading the blurb I looked forward to finding out. Second Half is the story of teenage sweethearts, Zoey and Derrick, trying to find their way back to each other after eight years apart.

Zoey McEvoy has just about got her life back on track. She's a strong, sassy and independent business woman. She founded the Coach's Shadow Foundation in honour of her father. These things didn't come easily to her though. After heartbreak she found herself in the dark depths of depression, resulting in a suicide attempt. But all that is in the past, or so she thinks...

Derrick Hendrickson had to make a choice and he chose his career. However, his love for Zoey is as strong as ever and he's determined to win her back. The only problem is he's completely unaware of the destruction he caused eight years earlier. Winning Zoey back was never going to be a cake walk but Derrick has no idea just how hard it's going to be. Even with the help of their best friends and Zoey's sister Claire, the damage done in the past just might be too much to come back from.

If there's one thing I can say about this book it's that it's fast paced. Aside from a slight issue I had with the timing of one thing in particular, the book had a great flow and at no point did I feel like the plot stalled. The only thing with such a fast paced read is that at times things can feel a little rushed and I find that makes the story or characters a little hard to relate to personally. Take their reunion for instance, it felt quite abrupt to me. I knew that was perhaps to show Derrick's dominating personality but he inserts himself back into her life and starts bossing her around from day one, even threatening to spank her.

"So help me, Zoey, you say one more word and I will spank that amazing ass of yours so hard you won't be able to sit down for a week. Now. Get. In. The. God. Damn. Truck!"

For some that may be hot - Zoey is conflicted - but for me it was a major turn off. Although the story does move along quickly, the full reasoning behind their break up is concealed for a little longer than I would perhaps have liked and it makes the present a little confusing. Because we hear the story of their break up in drips and drabs after we know Zoey tried to commit suicide, it's hard to understand why she would be open to letting him back into her life at all. I feel that perhaps if it had been addressed earlier in the book then I could have invested in the characters and their relationship more. But at the same time I also understand why, in the context of the book, that the author chose to structure it the way she did. It did mean that the story played out in a way that felt less predictable or cliched and that's not a bad thing.

Something I really appreciated about this book is that the characters are fully realised, even the side characters. While I didn't particularly care for Zoey in the beginning of the book - she grew on me and I was really rooting for her by the end - or Derrick, I fell in love with the side characters. One of my favourite parts is when their mutual friend and Derrick's best friend, Ben, warns Derrick for pushing Zoey too fast.

"I told you, man. I told you that if you hurt her again, best friend or not, that I would kill you. You are pushing too hard, too fast." 

I liked this part because it echoed how I felt and also showed me the author was self aware. This is why I praised the pacing of the book despite feeling parts were abrupt because it was obvious then that that was intentional. I also just really loved Ben and basically all the interactions with the side characters, maybe even more than Zoey and Derrick's interactions. I particularly loved the girl's night. This is important because this book is the first instalment of a trilogy and I can safely say I'm hooked and looking forward to meeting those characters again. I was left wanting to know what their stories are.

As I said, I found Zoey hard to relate to in the beginning and as such I didn't like her all that much. I also didn't really like Derrick. However, I started to root for Zoey when I learned more about what she had been through and started to like Derrick even less. Particularly after we learn how he went about the break up and why. I felt it was pretty weak reasoning. I was firmly in Zoey's corner when Derrick and even her friends and family told her that she needed to get over the past and move on, that she needed to let it go because he loved her. I know this story was about second chances but I guess I just felt he hadn't grovelled enough. Then again, I'm stubborn. I wanted Zoey to be more stubborn too because I felt like she deserved better. I suppose that's a credit to the author, writing a character I actually cared about.

"...all I do know is that I need him. Need him with a passion and desire that is The pain and the fear are all still there, I'm not sure that they will ever leave me, but I do know that I need this man in my life."

When it comes down to it I definitely feel this book is worth a read. Many of the issues I had with it were more down to personal taste than anything actually wrong with book itself. I didn't dislike Zoey or Derrick because they were badly written but because I didn't like them as people or at least how they went about things. That's a very different thing. I commend author, Monica DeSimone, for writing characters that challenged and frustrate me. I commend her for writing a character that I disliked initially but reeled me back in, something that isn't easy.

I don't feel like this story was a fairy tale. These characters are flawed and as I said, I feel like Zoey deserved better but she loved Derrick and that's life. The heart wants what the heart wants and I appreciate that. I look forward to seeing what's in store for the rest of the character in the rest of the trilogy and maybe catching up with Zoey and Derrick again.

If you want to give Second Half a read you can pick it up at the links below.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cAgAob
BookBaby BookShop: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Second-Half
iBooks: http://ibookstore.com/products.php?i=B01LWIPOLT

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