Monday, January 20, 2014

True by Erin McCarthy Review

True by Erin McCarthy
Series: True Believers #1
Published by 
Penguin Publishing
Publish Date: May 7, 2013

235 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…


Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost… (from Goodreads)



True by Erin McCarthy 

My Thoughts:  When your book opens with your female main character admitting that she never meant to get drunk nor admit to her roommates that she is still a virgin - well, let's just say, I wasn't quite expecting that right away! I picked this book because I read a ton of books in the New Adult category and I really like this cover - and after having finished the story I have to admit that there are things that I liked and things I'm not too crazy about. 

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As the book opens, Rory Macintosh is waiting, waiting, waiting out in the living area of a friend's apartment as her two roommates are, um, busy back in the bedrooms with guy friends. Rory isn't alone out there - there is another unattached friend - Grant - who Rory is kind of talking herself into liking as she is sitting there drinking beer, one after the other. Rory's mind is just racing about how Grant is a little awkward and skinny, but cute, and how she has a kind-of crush on him because there is sort-of "possibility" with him. Rory mind is thinking back on how nobody has ever really liked her before, wanted to date her before, wanted to sleep with her before, and suddenly she decides that she wants Grant to kiss her. YES, SHE DECIDES SUDDENLY THAT SHE WANTS TO KISS GRANT. Right in the middle of all of her thinking and drinking. Just like *snap* THAT! her thinking changes to how perfect she and Grant are for one another because they are both quiet, pale, and sensitive.* 

*I'm not making this up. 

Then Grant, who is Rory's brand-new crush, has to be awesome and start talking about her roommate Jessica, which immediately kills it for Rory. OF COURSE he couldn't be interested in her, right? NOBODY ELSE IS, right? (This is Rory's mind talking.) And before too long and after too many beers, Rory finds herself being sexually assaulted by Grant. As in, real actual sexual assault. In the living area of their mutual friend's apartment. While four of their friends are, um, busy in other rooms. 

Now, it just so happens that one of the four "busy" friends, one Mr. Tyler Mann, happens to see part of this assault take place and he hears Rory tell Grand NO. And he sort of rescues Rory. He kicks Grant out of the apartment. And he offers to drive her back to her dorm. During the ride, they talk a little bit and Tyler seems a little bit interested in her, which is a little weird because he is with Rory's roommate Jessica. RIGHT? So Rory shakes it off and goes into her dorm and that's that. 

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True by Erin McCarthy is way more than just this opening scene, although I believe that this first scene sets the book up very well. The first scene holds several things that I didn't love about this book. First of all, it was really awkward for me to read about Rory sitting in the living area of an apartment while she waited for her roommates to hook up with their respective guys. She knew what was going on there, so why subject herself to the torture of being a third wheel? And FINE if she wanted to hang out there - sure, OKAY - but all she ended up doing was spend an awful lot of time thinking about how nobody liked her when she was younger and even still, and how she is now twenty years old and still a virgin. (In other words, it's time to put the beer down, Rory.) I couldn't get over the overwhelming stench of "I feel inferior" coming off of the opening scene, but it's cool. I kept going because even though nobody really did anything to Grant after his illegal and degrading moves, I was interested in Tyler Mann and his intentions for Rory Macintosh (while he was with roommate Jessica). 

It turns out that Jessica and Tyler (as well as other roommate Kylie and other friend Nathan) all have very casual relationships. Which means that they're not really attached. And by that I mean that they're no-strings-attached hook-up friends. So, okay. Alright. Now that we've established that, let's move on. When Jessica and Kylie find out from drunken, just-having-been-sexually-assaulted Kylie that she is still a virgin, it doesn't bother Jessica in the least that Tyler is interested in her. Because Jessica isn't really interested in Tyler. They use each other - it is an understanding that they have. SO...Jessica and Kylie decide between themselves that Rory is awesome and smart and has so much to offer but people don't really know that because she shuts herself off from people. And if she would just finally open up physically, surely she would be able to open up emotionally as well. (HUH?) Being the best friends that they are, they offer Tyler money to sleep with Rory. 

Now let's switch gears a little bit on these thoughts, okay? 

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I've already told you I felt Rory's awkwardness early on. When Tyler began to express interest in her, she had a really hard time believing it (after she found out Jessica wasn't really interested) because why on earth would someone so good-looking want anything to do with her? [I'm not gonna fault Rory for this, though, because what girl hasn't felt this way when some crush of theirs has finally started liking them? I know I have.] Rory has some self-esteem issues in the beginning that I personally chalk up to the loss of her mother at a young age. However, Rory is exceptionally smart - she is premed and an ace in her science and math classes. And she is beautiful. But I question her choice of "best friends." 

Jessica and Kylie are Rory's dorm roommates, so I understand the initial connection. However, the two are way more extroverted than Rory and are always trying to get her to go out with them and pushing guys onto her, things like that. While that may not seem like such a bad thing, it isn't Rory's thing, and she doesn't really like it. But she isn't firm enough in telling them so when she finally gets around to it, which is way too far into the story. When Rory is assaulted, their attitude and actions to her are strange for "best friends" - a huge hug and back rub, a few words, then it's back into the bedrooms with the boys! WHAT? Still not gonna judge them. But when they offered Tyler money to sleep with Rory behind her back? That's where I have to draw the line on what a friend is. Still, Rory KNOWS THIS and they all are three BFF'S FOREVER! So strange to me, but perhaps it is because I'm Southern? Or because I have friends that are different than this? I'm not sure. Moving on...

Thankfully, Tyler makes a good choice in dealing with the "please sleep with our roommate, here's some money" situation. See, he actually likes Rory for who she is. He sees her awkwardness, her blunt sense of humor, her true self, and he likes her for it. I love that he pursues her, respectfully, and I love that he is able to find a way into her life that doesn't involve sex: it turns out that Tyler is quite smart himself and is going to school to be an EMT. He is struggling with his Anatomy and Physiology classes, though. He knows that Rory is premed and a science whiz. Tyler is also an avid reader (he has a battered, beat up library card - y'all that is super sexy, I won't lie) and loves literature. When he finds that Rory is struggling in her literature classes, the two find that they can help one another out by studying together. THIS is where Tyler works his way into Rory's heart, and I loved it. 

Also making an appearance in True are the families of Tyler and Rory. Rory's family is of the slightly more traditional variety - father has a live-in girlfriend, both are supportive of Rory in school, helping her pay the part of her tuition that her scholarship does not cover. But it is Tyler's family that won over my heart. See, his mother is an addict after an accident left her with an injury requiring pain medication years ago and his father is in prison. Tyler has an older brother and two younger brothers. There is nothing but dysfunction in the home as far as parenting and normalcy goes, but the four brothers consider themselves a family without their parents (they have their own special tattoo to show their brotherly bond) and the older two brothers do the best they can to take care of the two younger ones with their mother throwing their money away on drugs, alcohol, and who knows what else. The conditions inside the Mann household are unbelievable. It is when Rory meets Tyler's family, particularly the younger two brothers, and learns what true family and real love is - it's then that she finds herself becoming stronger and learning to speak up for herself. In a way, she learns these behaviors from these four brothers. This is kind of unusual and also awesome because she eventually counts herself as part of Tyler's family and she loves them all so much. 

Then, OF COURSE, something bad happens and Tyler is involved and Rory's family isn't happy about it and their relationship is threatened...DRAMA!

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True by Erin McCarthy is one of those New Adult books that I started on a whim and read quickly. I personally love a book like this thrown into my mix regularly. BUT I understand why some people read books like this and think that this category is filled with nothing but...books like this...if this is what they are always picking up. But that is not the case. True is just the story of Rory and Tyler. It is not a perfect story; it is flawed. I think that there are probably one or two too many things going on in here, honestly. I think that it starts out a bit odd and that it is an unusual choice to let Grant get away with what he did to Rory - RORY EVEN APOLOGIZED TO HIM later in the book. I think that Jessica and Kylie are an unusual, wild pair and perhaps I am not used to having friends like these two, and I think they are a horrible match for Rory - but that is Rory's problem if she is fine with them, perhaps I can learn to be too? 

HOWEVER...

I did like the romance between Rory and Tyler. It was just what I like in contemporary stories - romance + issues. It built slowly and oozed tension and that part of the story was really fun to read about. Just as great as the romance was the brother-relationship between Tyler and his three brothers. I absolutely love a great sibling bond and this is probably one of the better ones that I have read. And I like that both Rory and Tyler made some character growth over the course of the story. (Also YAY to Rory for not rushing into having sex just because her friends were pressuring her to. Way to go on that one, Rory. Peer pressure is basically bullying and is not cool.)

I honestly do not know what will happen in the future installments of this series, but I have to admit that I am curious. The next book features Jessica and Riley - Jessica the no-strings-attached roommate and Riley, Tyler's awesome older brother. So, yeah, I'm going to keep reading. 

I also need to admit that I'm going to be careful who I recommend this book to. There is such a negative association with the New Adult category out there and I think that this book could add to it if not read with an open mind. I recommend True by Erin McCarthy to fans of New Adult Contemporary Romance with Issues and strong sibling relationships. If you don't enjoy drama sometimes and are unable to enjoy a story without putting your own morals and beliefs onto the characters, this is most likely not the story for you. 


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True will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
with some issues
Issues: Poverty, Drug Use, Social Issues
Romance: Slowly Developing. No Triangle.   
 Setting: College Setting, Cincinnati
Character Growth

True by Erin McCarthy
is currently available for purchase.


**I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts and they are totally and completely my own! Thank you Penguin! 

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Has anyone else read this book? 

VERY CURIOUS about your thoughts? 
Will you be continuing the series? 



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3 comments:

  1. I've actually heard a lot of good things about this series (and this book), but I remain fairly ardently against the genre as a whole right now. I want to wait until NA becomes more than just angst and romance to actually delve into it. That said, I really do appreciate your thorough analysis of this one, Asheley!

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  3. True was definitely a remarkable New Adult contemporary that absolutely melted my heart. With a romance that can give any girl hope for a romantic future, this novel is one that you definitely can’t pass up.

    Marlene
    Yoga Training Thailand

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