Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Chaos is good.” “Good? There are people humping in the closet. Before cake.”
Cami Broussard has her senior year all mapped out. She will continue to work in her father’s restaurant and become an apprentice chef once she graduates; allowing her to continue working along side her boyfriend, Luke. When Cami’s step mother, Estella, announces her nephew, Julian, will be coming to live with them to recuperate from a war injury, Cami is put out by the onslaught of change coming into her home and her life.
Julian Wyatt was raised by his aunt when his mother and father passed away. Severely wounded in Afghanistan when he and his team came upon a roadside bomb, his aunt decides to bring him home from the VA hospital, hoping that she can help heal more than just his physical wounds. He doesn’t want to be there and makes his opinions known loud and clearly.
From first meeting, Cami and Julian lock horns and butt heads. Cami feels bad for what Julian has gone through but she refuses to coddle him or allow him to take his frustrations out on her. Julian is understandably angry. He is dealing with a severe case of PTSD and survivors guilt. He’s also feeling guilty for his attraction to his seventeen year old housemate.
As their prickly animosity grows into a heady attraction, Julian and Cami will discover a lot about themselves and each other.
Stir Me Up is a sweet engaging coming of age YA centering around seventeen year old high school senior Cami Broussard and her war wounded step cousin, twenty year old Julian Wyatt. Emotionally poignant and abound with romance and humor. Elkins builds a wonderful relationship between our protagonists that focuses on love, grief, hope, and choices; showing us a young girl struggling with her impending adulthood and a young man who was pushed forcefully into his.
The story is pretty straight forward in its delivery. The trope is predictable though the journey is what is appealing. Heavily character driven, they breathe life into the storylines and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Ms. Elkins has created real people with real issues. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the growing pains life sometimes hands us. Told in first person from Cami’s point of view, the execution flows smoothly and the dialogue is expertly laid out so that we are never left to guess at the other characters’ feelings and thoughts.
I enjoyed Cami and Julian as individuals and together. Both are strong, intelligent characters whose emotions and reactions are realistic. Cami is a bit of a drama queen which comes out in humorous ways when she is stressed. Lucky for her, Julian is the more calm of the two and grounds Cami effortlessly. Their chemistry builds slowly so as when the romance engages, we are left with a soft, happy sigh. Ms. Elkins doesn’t use tired cliches, mind numbing angst, and emotional whining to facilitate their romance. Theirs is not an insta-love and I appreciated that. Their evolution from friends to lovers is slow and smooth as they get to know one another. A fun sexy romance that is both compelling and comfortable. I enjoyed how the characters continue to work at their relationship once they become a couple. Cami is at a point in her life where decisions need to made. Julian does a fabulous job of encouraging her to make those decisions independent of his own wishes.
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story. Cami’s father struggles between letting his little girl grow up and wanting her to succeed. Cami’s bff, along with her step brother and his wife, encourage Cami to never hold back when trying to achieve her goals. The only person I struggled with was Estella. I never felt she was really involved in the story. We were always told her emotions but never given a real reason behind them.
The ending is wonderfully satisfying in that while we aren’t given a HEA, we are given hope for our couple and their future.
Overall rating: B