Sunday 2 March 2014

This Is Now by Maggie Gilbert - Book Review

From the Blurb:

A gritty, urban New Adult Cinderella story where the princess can do her own rescuing — she just needs someone to believe in her.

Sister to car thieves, ex-girlfriend to a drug dealer, high school dropout, no-hoper and loser — Jess is on the sidelines, watching her life become one epic fail. Her dreams of university are fading fast, as the people in her life fight to confine her to their own expectations.

Then she meets Sebastien, a gifted cellist from a very different walk of life. Sebastien is clean and strong and talented. He likes and respects her, but he too has expectations. Sebastien seems to think she can do anything, and Jess, despite her fears and the secrets she hides, is starting to believe him.
But just as Jess dares to hope, the secrets in her past and the lies in her present catch up with her. All seems lost and she has to make a choice. Between past and future. Between home and hope. Between now and never. And this is now.

The Review:

Jess is from the wrong side of the tracks, but she has no intention of staying there. She's gone back to school and is working hard to complete her high school certificate, against the wishes or comprehension of her family. She's in an on and off again relationship with Jay, who is also her friend Anna's boyfriend. Then she meets Anna's brother, Sebastien. He's a gorgeous, classy cellist who sweeps Jess off her feet. Unfortunately, she can't quite bring herself to tell him the reality of her life.

Almost as soon as this novel began I was offside with the main character, Jess. I felt like I couldn't relate to her at all and really disliked her. At first, she seems to be a bit of a slapper - not for the reasons she has a reputation around the neighborhood, but because she is sleeping with her friend's boyfriend - and so I found it a little difficult to sympathize with her. Despite this, I found myself sucked into her world. Maggie Gilbert's writing is gritty and real and captivating and I couldn't have put down this book if I'd tried - which didn't occur to me once after those first ten minutes reading. Between then and the time I finished the book a few hours later, I had shifted between wanting to slap Jess, shake her, hug her and squeal on her behalf. As you might imagine, it was something of an emotional roller-coaster.

So yes, Jess is a difficult character to sympathize with initially, but that's partly because she's so much more realistic and complex than so many other heroines, and in such a way that you completely believe her journey.

And then there is Sebastien. He's a gorgeous, sweet, understanding, caring, amazing, swoon worthy hero. But don't get me wrong - he's not totally perfect either.... just maybe perfectly imperfect. Before I gush too much about Sebastien, it might be worth noting that I have a sweet spot for musicians (and cellists especially) and leave it at that.

I really love how realistic this novel feels. Yes, it is a romance, if new adult, but it's so much more frank about life than I'm used to. There are no Prada shoes here, instead there's up front counting dollars at the supermarket. Sure, there's still the escapism of the rich, hunky hero who buys expensive presents, but there's also acknowledgement of the issues of such a class divide. One of the reasons I love romance is certainly for the blatant escapism of it all, but the balance with honest realities in this novel was really appealing and made for a genuinely enjoyable read.

Although I struggled with the heroine of this novel, that is also strangely one of the things I ended up liking most about This is Now, which is a New Adult Romance I simply can't praise highly enough.

This is Now by Maggie Gilbert was published by Escape Publishing on February 1 2014 and is available from Amazon.

This book was given to Love Reading Romance in exchange for an honest review.