Book: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2) by Sarina Bowen

Genre: MF Contemporary Romance, Explicit

Title: The Year We Hid Away

Author: Sarina Bowen

Release Date: 1 June 2015

Previous Book in Series: The Year We Fell Down

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Summary: 

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

What I Liked:

My favorite thing about this book is that the angst doesn’t come from relationship or normal teenage drama.  Instead, Scarlet and Bridger each have issues in their lives that are much bigger than them.  They don’t have time to angst about the little stuff because they’ve already learned that there’s more to life than petty gossip about who is dating who.  Scarlet’s background and issues are especially realistic and troubling.  I must admit that I’ve never read about a character in quite this situation before.

I also love the characters.  Scarlet and Bridger are so strong and likable.  Bridger is such a great romantic lead; He’s smart, funny, patient, and so good with Lucy, his little sister.  Scarlet could be a bit headstrong, but I definitely understood her need to be independent.  Their friendship turned romance is very believable, and their chemistry together is off the charts!

What I Didn’t:

I guess Bridger seems a little too good to be true.  I mean, I know that there are people who manage to accomplish absolutely everything they set out to do, but the amount of stuff that Bridger takes on and accomplishes seems…a bit unrealistic.  Also, as a content warning, there is some pretty horrifying stuff implied about sexual abuse.  Nothing happens to any of our man characters and nothing happens on page, but I still figure it might be nice to warn people.  It’s mentioned right at the beginning of the book, but there are some revelations later on that make it even more gross and horrible.

Overall:

I couldn’t put this book down.  I absolutely love Scarlet and Bridger (and Lucy!).  The romantic and familial relationships were all realistic and believable, and the romance doesn’t get bogged down by unnecessary drama or angst.  While this story is a romance, it’s also very much about struggling and learning to lean on other people.  Scarlet’s family’s issues get kind of dark, and readers should be warned of implied sexual abuse (though not of any main  characters in the book), though nothing happens directly on the page.  I really enjoyed this book a lot.  Having already read 2 other books in this series, I can say that this one so definitely my favorite so far!

My Rating: 4.5/5

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