I've been reading a lot of New Adult lately and if you have been, too, you're going to agree that there are a lot of bad boys in this genre—the brooding, tatted-up, tortured kind. So at first I thought, okay, why not another one? I didn't regret that decision at all. I picked this book up yesterday and kept reading.
Starting on a slightly technical note, I think that first person POV works really well with New Adult and has in fact been the popular choice. I'm not a big fan of alternating POVs but it was successfully deployed in this book. Actually, other than Aly's and Jared's POV, the flashbacks are done in third-person. In a way, that tweak serves the purpose of the flashback well because it changes the tone and you know that you're reading something detached from the current timeline. The POV shifts felt natural and flowed well which is a huge accomplishment. It's a big risk but it paid off for Jackson.
Aleena Moore or Aly for short, is a well-developed character because we've seen flashes of her as a child growing up and trying to carve a place for herself in the company of her brother Christopher and his best friend Jared. She's very likeable and level-headed actually (except when she fell and dived deep, holding nothing back). I especially liked that unlike many of today's heroines, she's not hung up with her family. It was nice to see her have that kind of happy, healthy relationship with her folks and her siblings. She wasn't full of that teeth-gritting angst we see a lot in heroines nowadays. It definitely went along with the soundness of her character, that steadfastness that was going to finally ground Jared back to the very place he'd been long running from.
Jared Holt is scarred and still suffering, and it's not until well into the two-thirds of the story that it's revealed why although you get lots of glimpses at the ghosts that haunt him. He looks like a bad boy, acts tough like a bad boy but he's actually quite a nice guy despite all his baggage. Sure, he tortures himself with guilt and the determination to remain unworthy of any good thing in life but he's not a jerk. His pain hurts Aly but his heart is in the right place. It's not far-fetched I guess, considering what a nice, good-natured boy he was growing up, his home happy and his future bright. I adored the boy that he was in those flashbacks and I could totally see why Aly had loved him for as long as she had.
While the plot isn't totally unique in a world full of romances about a girl and her brother's best friend, or of good girl taming the bad boy, the twists in the past gave it a different angle. But what really lured me in and held me captive was the music of Jackson's writing. It's eloquent, distinct and layered with emotions and beautifully strung words. It's still very appropriate, especially for Jared's POV, tough guy that he is, but the writing really shines. It reaches deep and grabs on to you tight.
I would strongly recommend this to anyone with a soft spot for bad boys and an-almost-puppy love, actually. I'm looking forward to the next book 'Come To Me Softly' in this Closer To You series, coming out summer 2014.