Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Who has two thumbs and just came twice? This girl. Holy crap.”
Robin was the quintessential party girl until a one night stand throws her for a loop. Disgusted with herself, she has stopped drinking, stopped partying, and is looking to complete her next semester from her parents house. She doesn’t want to be “that girl” and hates that she can’t even talk to her friends about it.
Phoenix just got out of jail; broke and homeless. Crashing at his cousins’ house, he knows he needs to get a job and get out. When he meets Robin, he is instantly bowled over by how sweet and talented she is. She is the girl he always wanted but never thought he was good enough for.
As Phoenix and Robin spend more time together, Phoenix sees she is carrying a huge secret but hesitates to push her. When their pasts collide, neither are prepared for the explosive aftermath.
Believe is the third book in Erin McCarthy’s True Believers series. A new adult series that revolves around a group of friends and their issues with drugs, alcohol, and relationships. In Believe we meet Robin and Phoenix. Robin, one of Jessica’s (Sweet) and Rory’s (True) best friends, has been noticeably absent all summer. When she sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend at the end of school, she undergoes a complete transformation and avoids everything and everybody who could trigger a relapse. Three months later, she meets Phoenix. Phoenix, Riley and Tyler’s cousin, has just gotten out of jail after a six month stint. He has anger issues and this time they landed him in jail. While he isn’t the perfect guy for her, there is a connection between them that allows them both to forget their pain and disgust for awhile.
Entertaining and emotionally satisfying, Believe doesn’t have quite the external drama the first two books had. While there is some, the conflict here is more internalized. Robin and Phoenix have issues that affect their views of themselves. McCarty’s signature clean writing style and a easy to follow storyline(s) makes it incredibly easy to become involved in this book. Heavily character driven, we easily fall in love with our hero and heroine from their first meeting.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“What?” I almost dropped my paintbrush. “No. Why?”
His phone slid across the table toward me. “Then give me your number.”
“Why?” I said again, which was a totally moronic thing to say. But I didn’t get any vibe he even liked me, let alone was interested in me.
For the first time, I saw the glimmer of a smile on his face. The corner of his mouth lifted slightly before he controlled it again. “Why do you think?”
For a split second, I felt like myself, and I said the first thing that popped into my head. “So you can send me honey badger videos?” I joked, because it seemed like a safer response. He was just out of prison, and he had just broken up with his girlfriend ten minutes earlier. So not a good idea to get involved with him. I wasn’t up for dating anyone, let alone him.
“Yes. And kitten memes.”
“Well, in that case.”
McCarthy does a nice job of characterizing Robin and Phoenix as individuals and as a couple. Both protagonists are easy to sympathize with. Phoenix’s childhood involved a co dependant mother whose next fix was more important than taking care of her child. Robin, whose childhood was much better though she has a critical grandmother whose comments are nasty; uses parties and drinking to avoid dealing with her body issues and to boost her self confidence. Both learn that they are worth far more than their face value. The dual POVs enables us to see what each are feeling and thinking at pivotal moments. McCarthy takes their relationship slow, allowing them time to get to know one another and form a trust bond that supercedes their past behavior.
“I want you to remember that forever. Because I will.”
Though I felt the romance happened fast-insta love is never an easy sell-a part of me understood their need to cling to one another. Neither has ever had a relationship that didn’t involve some pretending on both their ends. No game playing and prime communication between our couple made the story more enjoyable in my eyes. The sexual scenes are bittersweet and sexy. The storyline and romance blend together effortlessly, elevating each other with a few plot twists to add to the overall tension.
We see plenty of past characters-Jess, Riley, Rory, and Tyler. I enjoyed their interaction and the outside observations and influence they bring. Seeing where they were at in their relationships and the hints given towards the future assures us they are all working hard towards their HEA. We also see a deviation from the past trope of the bad boy boyfriend the parents hate. Phoenix’s mom and Robin’s parents are rarely seen and when they are, they are there only in a supportive role.. Although, we do see the love/hate dynamics that affected the first book, True. Phoenix loves his mother but realises early on he can’t protect her from herself anymore.
The climatic moment that blows everything wide open isn’t so much a shocker as it is sad. Robin pays a heavy price for her drinking problem but it also frees her to move on with her life. Her guilt was like an albatross hanging from her neck. She may have lost a friend but she gained her sense of self back. The subplot involving Phoenix and his troubles seemed to come out of left field and resolved rather quickly. It didn’t really served a purpose.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I did have a few issues with it.
One, Robin’s grandmother. I don’t subscribe to the notion that advanced age allows you to be cruel and I was surprised this wasn’t explored further.
Two, Jessica. I liked her well enough in True and Sweet but she became extremely judgemental in here and I was confused where this stemmed from. She makes noises about Robin leaving their room mate, Kylie, high and dry when Jessica does the same thing. She comes off jealous of Phoenix and I wasn’t buying the custody battle excuse. She didn’t want to share her new found family and it showed. Does this mean no relatives of the boys can ever come to visit? She’s also extra harsh with Robin after the big reveal; even after seeing evidence that it wasn’t all Robin’s fault.
Three, Robin blacked out from too much alcohol and woke up in bed with Nathan. She remembers basically nothing. It was essentially date rape and that aspect is never addressed.
Regardless of my misgivings, Believe is a sweet new adult love story that takes us journey of friendship, self discovery, forgiveness, and love. McCarthy continues to entertain with the third installment of True Believers series. She also includes a brief excerpt from book four, Shatter, which releases in June 17, 2014.
Overall Rating: C+