Reviews | The Year We Hid Away & Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Hid AwayThe Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Book #2 in The Ivy Years

Genre: Sports/New Adult Romance
Publication Date: June 1st, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

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.

Angie’s Review – 4 Stars – A-

Oh, Sarina Bowen. It’s like she’s taken a pair of jumper cables and jumpstarted my love for the New Adult genre. The Year We Hid Away is the second book in The Ivy Years series, and just like the first book, it makes me want to toss my reading schedule to the wolves and devour every book this author has written. I really like how the title of this book, just like The Year We Fell Down is reflective of both main characters in the book.

I liked both Scarlet and Bridger. Scarlet was seriously scarred from recent events in her life, and it was no wonder she wanted to hide. Her feelings were believable and well-written, especially the guilt that plagued her for actions she had no hand in. It was clear Bridger was going to steal my heart from the very beginning. He was working so hard to meet his sister’s needs and keep her safe. He was giving up his dreams for her, and the thought never crossed his mind. He knew what he had to do, and he didn’t think twice. He just did it. What I loved about this book was exactly what I loved about the first – while these characters are each going through something terrible and they are sometimes overwhelmed, they’re never so overtaken they can’t live functional lives. Yes, they worry and yes, they are stressed, but they never stop trying. These storylines may be angst-ridden, but the characters are not, and that takes some skill to pull off. I loved seeing Harley and Corey again, and I loved the support system that was in place for Bridger all along. I’m also a fan of the way the author utilizes the environment her characters are living in. From the dorms, to the cafeteria, to the dean, she’s putting her characters in situations that are familiar to most college students. (Not their conflicts obviously, but going about their daily college lives.) I can’t tell you how many times I read New Adult books that takes place in college, but the characters only occasionally roll out of bed and manage to make it to campus.

There was only one part of the book I really had an issue with, and that was the way things were wrapped up for Scarlet. It was too tidy and veered into soap opera land for me, and it didn’t fit with the even tone of the rest of the story; I could have done without that. Though in the grand scheme of things, it was a small part of the story and I enjoyed it in spite of that.

In a nutshell, I’m crazy about this series so far and can’t wait to read more!

Rating: 4 Stars

Blonde Date
Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen
Book #2.5 in The Ivy Years

Genre: Sports/New Adult Romance
Publication Date: July 6th, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could possibly go wrong?

As a sorority pledge, there are commandments that Katie Vickery must live by. One: thou shalt not show up for the party without a date. Two: the guy shall be an athlete, preferably an upperclassman.

Unfortunately, Katie just broke up with her jerkface football player boyfriend. Even worse, her last encounter with him resulted in utter humiliation. She’d rather hide under the bed than attend a party where he’ll be.

Yet staying home would mean letting him win.

Enjoying herself tonight was out of the question. She could only hope to get through the evening without her blind date noticing that he was spending the evening with a crazy person.

Andrew Baschnagel is living proof that nice guys don’t finish first. He’s had his eye on Katie since the moment her long legs waltzed into his art history class. So when her roommate sets Andy up to be Katie’s date, he’d be crazy to say no. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of practice with either girls or parties. Yet.

Angie’s Review – 4 Stars – A-

Whenever I go into a novella, I try to adjust my expectations accordingly. A lower word count means you might not get the same emotional punch you would from a novel, and the story might not have quite as much depth. I didn’t find that to be the case with Blonde Date. I feel like I’m waxing poetic here, but the author packed a pretty big punch with this story. It really shows how much what others think impacts us, and how sometimes it can take just one person seeing something in us to make us feel better. That was Andy for Katie. He was such a sweet and uplifting character, and he came along at just the right time for Katie. Their time together was adorable, and the way he was able to put her at ease and make a game out of the hard parts of the night totally won me over. All I could think was ‘Move over, Hartley and Bridger! There’s a new heartthrob in the house.’ And the best part was that Andy didn’t even know how special he was. As wonderful as his character was, though, he didn’t outshine Katie. After being shaken up, there was a lot of reflection in this book, and surprisingly some character growth. (I don’t really expect that in the span of one night, so it was nice to see.) I like how a character can be introduced (in The Year We Hid Away) as a stereotypical bimbo, but the to be show that like everyone, there’s so much more underneath. Instead of sweeping this character under the rug, her depth was explored here. Kudos to the author for that. Regarding Dash…it was too little too late for Katie (with very good reason,) but it was nice to see him really think about things as well, and as much of an ass as he was in this book, I’d love to see redemption for him! Maybe in a short story of his own. Overall, this was a very pleasant addition to the series, and I was glad to see Andy get his girl.

Rating: 4 Stars

Series Reading Order:
1.0. The Year We Fell Down
2.0. The Year We Hid Away
2.5. Blond Date
3.0. The Understatement of the Year
4.0. The Shameless Hour
5.0. The Fifteenth Minute

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