Monday, February 20, 2023

Truly by Carmel Rhodes


My friend Julia told me about this book and it sounded really amazing. I have to say, I'm a sucker for tender, possessive dudes with a slight psychotic streak and some of the lines she shared as quotes in her review made me swoon. Also, I loved that it's a dark romance with a Black heroine written by a Black author. There aren't a lot of diverse dark romances out there, although that seems to be changing, and I am glad. Fucked-up stories for everyone, of all creeds! That's my motto.

Noah is the brother of Truly's ex, and there's bad blood there that goes beyond the breakup. I feel like this book really plays with family dynamics in a way that a lot of dark romances don't. Truly goes on the road trip, for example, because it's the same one that her mom took with her aunt when she was a teen. We also get to see little excerpts from Truly's mom's journal and I really hope the author decides to write a prequel about that, because I think it would be so much fun to read a book about Truly's mom falling in love with Truly's dad. I also felt like Truly was a bit more dynamic as a heroine. She's selfish and imperfect and flawed. The grovel at the end was also pretty good and I wish it had ended there, instead of with the epilogue. Also, she does photography as a hobby and we actually see her doing that and documenting her journey, which I appreciated. Often we're told that heroines have hobbies but we never see them in action.

That said, even though I mostly liked this book, there were some things that really rubbed me the wrong way. I hated that Truly fell in love with Noah so quickly and that she never told Becca that he tried to rape her. This bites her in the ass later when she finds out that Becca invited boys on what should have been their girls-only trip. Now, that is Truly's decision to confide and she is in no way to blame for what happened to her, and Becca was wrong to ruin their plans without okaying it with Truly first, but it felt like this oversight was just a big loophole to force the guys on the trip. Given the relationship that the two girls had, it felt weird that Truly wouldn't tell Becca what happened. I also wasn't a fan of the nickname "Little One" (what is he, a vampire?) or some of the sex scenes. The rough sex was fine but it didn't always feel like the heroine was into it, or that Noah wasn't using it as a way to take out his frustrations on the heroine to punish her. Calling her butthole her "forbidden entrance" in reference to anal sex also made me cringe, and the slight breeding vibes to this book (multiple references to wanting to put a baby in Truly) made my ovaries shrivel up like sand. These are college students, right?

The beginning was four stars and the ending was two stars (for me), so I think I'd round this out to a three. Loved the road trip angle and how this felt like an aged-up version of one of those indie films from the aughts, like Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist or Charlie Bartlett. If she'd played up Truly's ambivalence about Noah a little more and made him work harder to get with her, I think I would have liked this more. But considering it had so many things that are usually deal-breakers for me, it's kind of amazing how much I ended up liking this. Regular readers of jealous, possessive stalker romances will probably enjoy this more than I did. I prefer my heroes more on the gamma side than the alpha side, but I'm not entirely mad about Truly ending up with her psychotic prince. (This is fantasy, after all.)

2.5 out of 5 stars

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