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Wow! What an amazing story, and something so very different from your standard YA romance. I absolutely ADORED it!
When we first meet Sophie she is a rich, bitchy, spoiled brat with no obvious redeeming qualities – “I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.” But we very quickly see that this is all a front. The real Sophie, although highly intelligent, is broken and lost, ignored by her parents and very much alone. She knows that she is deeply unhappy and living a superficial life, but is addicted to the life her father’s money has bought her, and can’t see a way out.
“I stood in front of the mirror and took a good hard look. I was as bare as I could make myself, no make up with wet, stringy hair. I hated to look at myself in this state. I didn’t feel real. I felt too exposed and that made me exceedingly nervous, but I made myself look that morning. I memorized that girl. That girl was the real me. Frightened. Worthless. A terrible friend. Terrible daughter. Well educated but so limited in ideas worth having. Beautiful yet repulsive…
And finally honest.”
When her hedonistic lifestyle catches up with her, Sophie is sentenced to work for 6 months in an orphanage in Uganda. Wow, that’s random! Yeah, I thought so too, but I love the turn that the story takes as Sophie steps out of her life of privilege and is immediately plunged into the terrifying and brutal reality of life for the people that she will be working with – particularly the children, all of whom are living in poverty and have been through horrific trauma. Instantly inspired by their resilience and innocent joy in spite of all that they have endured, Sophie is given a (totally deserved) massive metaphorical face slap, and begins an adventure that will change her forever.
With the story told entirely from Sophie’s POV, we follow her all the way through her journey and I don’t think I can remember reading a story where a character undergoes such a massive transformation. It was beautiful to watch.
Helping her along the way is my newest book boyfriend – Ian ‘Dignane’ Aberdeen. Holy God, this guy is gorgeous! Escaping his own past, Ian works at the orphanage and is side by side with Sophie from the very beginning. Intelligent, brave and with a huge heart, he sees right through Sophie when she arrives. And with his growing feelings for her, he gets to witness her transformation close up.
“You are so gosh damn beautiful in here,” he said, tapping my chest, “that what’s here,” he spoke, running the side of his hand down my face, “is magnified tenfold and that is a sight to behold.”
The chemistry between these two is intense from the start, and I love that Sophie embraces the change that she is going through and makes the decision not to pursue Ian as she would have in her old life.
“I was going to let him set the pace, let him discover me on his own … Letting him worry about the next move was incredibly liberating and I knew with absolute certainty that the ride was going to be the best of my entire life.”
The UST builds and builds until the romance explodes, and it’s awesome! There is no game playing, the two of them are very open honest with each other, and there is so much swoon, I practically melted onto the floor while reading.
“I’m so deep in love with you, I can’t see straight … There’s no getting out for me. You own me”
The cast of characters is sensational – particular shout outs to Spencer (exactly the kind of friend every girl needs), Pembrook (always caring and supportive, and totally proud of his girl), Charles and Karina, and of course the kids from the orphanage that stole my heart – their story is tragically heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting, and seriously makes me want to do something to help these kids. It’s horrifying to think that this is actually going on in the real world.
I love Fisher Amelie’s writing, and she doesn’t disappoint. This was a beautifully written story and I was riveted from start to finish. And the ending! OMG!!! It’s all highly emotional, and I read it all with glassy eyes and my mood swinging all over the place, until at one point I was so wound up in the story, all it took was reading one word, and I instantly burst into tears. Serious sobbing. I had to stop reading to calm myself down before I could go on. But finally, there is a HEA, and it’s definitely worth going through all of the heartache to get it.
“No one can know sincere happiness, Sophie, without first having known sorrow. One can never appreciate the enormity and rareness of such a fiery bliss without seeing misery, however unfair that may be.”
I absolutely loved this book. 5 sensational stars. A must read.
The Seven Deadly series