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I gotta warn you: this is going to read like some fan girl’s analysis of what is essentially a high school romance set within the limitless world of celebrities. But who cares! I loved this book! I loved goody goody Dori! I loved Reid! I’m a convert to the blond haired, blue eyed sex on a stick celebrity bad boy and I’m not ashamed to shout it from the rooftops. Except of course should anyone who knows me read my review because hey, I’m an adult and it is slightly embarrassing that I’ve been imagining myself as Dori in all of the Reid/Dori scenes. Why was I born with normal middle class parents, damnit, and not do-gooders who would force me into contact with all sorts of gorgeous celebrities? Why? Why? WHY?
Reid Alexander, sexy Hollywood bad boy from Between the Lines and Where You Are, is in big, big trouble. After a drunken night of partying and womanizing, he blacks out, crashing his brand new Porsche into a house in a lower income neighborhood of LA and finds himself with 6 weeks of community service to perform or else. Along with a rag tag bunch of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and an 18 year old do-gooder mentor named Dori, he is forced to repair the damage he’s caused. Reid expects the work to be tough but he doesn’t expect the open animosity he encounters from Dori. She sees him as another pretty boy who has nothing to offer and no redeeming qualities. But over the course of six weeks, their animosity develops into a grudging friendship and a mutual attraction that can’t be ignored. When Dori leaves for a mission trip and Reid’s community service ends in time for him to start filming on a new project, the two expect to never see each other again even though there is the beginnings of a relationship in the works. Dori returns to the horrific news that her sister has been involved in an accident and must give up her dreams of college to aid her parents in her rehabilitation. A chance encounter at an LA club brings the two back in contact and the feelings they felt earlier resurface. Slowly Dori and Reid battle her parents and her own personal demons in addition to his hard partying ways and all the negative factors that come along with his fame in order for their friendship to go further. In the end, both Reid and Dori find their relationship to be more worthwhile than holding onto old baggage and choose to change and mature in order to make it work.
It’s the big elephant in the room so I’m just going to put this out there: I had a LOT of reservations about Reid. And you all should know me by now: reservations is code for “I think he’s a flipping a-hole who might be pretty but really is nothing more than a cleverly concealed douche” It was almost to the point where I took Ellen’s advice and did NOT read this book. The kid has absolutely no redeeming qualities. He drinks too much, smokes up a storm, is a complete snot to his parents though obviously they are not undeserving of some animosity, is an enabler of the worst sort, and don’t get me started about all the girls. Drugs I can handle but using all women as if they were disposable? And from the age of 14 on? So not cool, Reid. So not cool. The guy truly merits the above title: he’s a douchebag of the highest (or is it lowest?) caliber. And then there’s Dori Cantrell, his foil in almost every way. I couldn’t help thinking, please! This girl is too much. It’s so unbelievable. Vacation Bible school? Habitat for humanity? And her daddy’s a preacher? This has gone way beyond what I can logically accept. I mean we all know she’s going to help redeem Reid but her MO is too much. Nobody is that good. Especially not an 18 year old who lives in LA and has pretty limited parental supervision. This is going to read like some god-awful self help novel so why did I buy it? But here’s where Tammara Webber tricks us all, friends. This book in no way resembles a smaltzy self help novel because essentially all the characters are flawed, even the ones doing the helping. And it is the flaws in each of them that make this book so delicious.
Ellen’s problem with novels about redemption is that ultimately the redemption happens far too quickly and is usually based on forces outside of the main character. I agree with her wholeheartedly. How can someone be redeemed if he’s not the one choosing to change? And how can it happen over the course of only a few chapters? Tammara Webber obviously read a page from the I Love YA Fiction’s list of the right things to do in a YA novel because Reid’s reversal from grade A douche to sweet and sexy good guy is slow and arduous. More importantly, it is not brought on by Dori. Funnily enough, it is a film role that gets Reid off the drugs, booze, and women and it is Dori who helps him want to maintain a better, more moral lifestyle. Using her as his example, Reid realizes that he wants to be worthy of redemption, that he has something to offer the world beyond than the cocky bad boy persona. Dori too has her own demons to exorcise: the loss of her innocence, coming to grip with her sister’s accident, and perhaps the most difficult, choosing the right path for herself outside of her parents’ influence. The Reid who helps her along her path to redemption is a far cry different from the one we meet in Between the Lines. Here he is supportive, he is empathetic, he is a changed man not because of Dori but alongside her. Reid sees in Dori the sort of qualities he wishes he possessed and by using her simple belief that one man can only change himself, he begins to do just that. Throughout the novel, Dori and Reid both follow parallel paths to redemption and it is when their paths finally intersect that their mutual attraction can flourish and become something beyond friendship. This novel will catch you with its Hollywood glamour and the dreamy bad boy main character, but it will not be as cut and dry a plot as you think. I loved loved loved this book. It had just the right balance of sexy bad boy you love to hate, flawed good girl, and smoldering scenes in the most unlikely of places.
With that said, I’m gonna leave you with some words of wisdom from one of our readers: Oh just you wait, you are going to FREAK out at how good book 2 is and then you’ll need to shove some ice down your panties at how hot Reid is in book 3. Nuff said.
So based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 9. At first Dori came off as the most annoyingly perfect character until we start to delve deeper into her life and realize that she has her own set of problems that all this volunteering and good work are trying to mask. It’s so refreshing to find an essentially good character who has a ton of flaws and even though it was pretty predictable that she would instantaneously dislike Reid, her ability to ignore a hottie like him is admirable. Plus she respects her family and listens to them in a way I find sadly lacking the youth of today (god, I sound old!)
How much did I like the love interest: 10. Reid is an anomaly: a character I utterly despised for the last two books who somehow manages to redeem himself. His path to being a better person feels real as it is littered with pitfalls and the fact that he changes and matures because he wants to himself is so swoonworthy! And the boy is gorgeous and blond and blue eyed which we all know I’m a sucker for.
How believable is the plot: 10. With all these teen celebrities checking into rehab and being caught partying way too hard, it’s easy to believe that one of them is going to crash and burn and this story just provides the next step in stories we’ve all heard. Let’s face facts: rich people get lighter sentences and a celeb being asked to do community service rather than hard time is completely believable. Everything that comes after also has the ring of truth since Reid and Dori never expect to see one another again and when chance brings them into contact, it actually feels coincidental not formulaic or forced.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. How does Tammara Webber write so effortlessly about this subject matter? Everything flows together brilliantly, the two separate voices blending seamlessly. The dialogue is extremely believable and fluid. For a self published book, the level of editing is fantastic with no noticeable issues whatsoever. Here’s a writer who truly values a good editor.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. Sob!!! Tammara Webber confirmed for me via Twitter that she will be releasing another Between the Lines book but it won’t be until the Fall at the earliest!!! Why couldn’t I have discovered this series then? Now I have to wait 6 whole months for more of these characters…
Final Score: 10/10. I thought I would hate it due to the utter douchedom of Reid but his transformation is brilliant and beautiful to watch. It doesn’t hurt that his being sober and more empathetic gives us some HOT scenes and makes us dream that some day we too will meet a gorgeous celebrity ready to date a commoner.