Friday, November 7, 2014

Shadow Heart by Pamela Taeuffer

The Basics:
Shadow Heart by Pamela Taeuffer
Open Heart Press
Book One in the Broken Bottle series
New Adult, Romance
Published February 1, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

I was intrigued by the blurb, and I liked the image of the stone heart breaking open on the cover.


Nobody wants to talk about them, but there are events that occur in our lives that become deep, dark secrets we hold inside. And they dramatically influence who we are and who we become.

Such is the case for seventeen-year-old Nicky Young who was raised by an alcoholic father and disengaged mother. 
When Nicky tries to make her way into the world she is confronted by the demons of her dysfunctional and sometimes violent upbringing.

Unlike many of her friends, she has shied away from boys, makeup, and clothes, instead focusing on achievement and her goal of getting into Stanford. But when Nicky meets Ryan Tilton, a sexy, high profile professional baseball player eight years her senior, a strong desire is awakened in her.

Nicky questions Ryan's motives for wanting to be with an inexperienced girl. Is he a scoundrel or does he genuinely care about her? Nicky is both excited and frightened, torn between protecting her heart and wanting to trust. Ryan brings his own demons--losing his father at the age of fourteen, and a sexual partner from his past who will not leave him alone.

Will their young, uncertain love be enough to help them open their hearts and experience intimacy they both crave so deeply or are Nicky and Ryan on a collision course?

Loosely based on the author's life growing up in San Francisco, this inspired contemporary romance novel deals with the disturbing secrets siblings share, the dance between love and protecting one's heart, and the innate desire to connect with another even when it means risking everything.

My thoughts:

Shadow Heart missed the mark for me. I really the blurb - it's got New Adult written all over with Nicky having some really dark secrets about her family that have caused her to avoid encouraging or seeking attention from guys. She meets a guy who makes her start to wonder what she's missing - but he seems all wrong for her.

Well, frankly, that's because when he meets her, he's eight years older and she's underage. It made me really uncomfortable to read about Ryan's attraction to Nicky at this point. She overhears a conversation between him and another baseball player that's very crude and really underlined my discomfort.

I also found Nicky to be a little inconsistent. I get that she's starting to experiment, and that's awesome, but some of the choices she made were so far beyond her normal comfort zone and the reasoning behind them was... not enough for me to buy into the story.  

I did like that there's a significant passing of time in this book so that this isn't an insta-romance. And life does go on in those periods of time - Nicky is growing and maturing and continuing to expand her horizons whether or not the romance with Ryan is developing.

I might have forgiven more of the plot points that I didn't agree with if I had been more engaged by the writing style. It simply didn't resonate with me - I wanted more polish overall. Even little things didn't sit right - I was convinced Ryan played for much smaller baseball organization - maybe even a very popular local team.  

Finally, the story doesn't come to a neat conclusion at all, which I found unsatisfying. Fortunately, the second book in the series is available now, so if you're happy to commit to more than one book, you may find answers to some of the questions that are left open at the end of Shadow Heart.

Bottom line:

I recommend you pass on Shadow Heart. There's some good ideas here, I just didn't find the execution very entertaining. New Adult is a rapidly growing genre, so unless you're a die hard baseball fan, you can skip this one.

2 stars
For fans of baseball romances, conflicted teens/very 'new' adults

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