I loved the first book in the Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to read the second book, The Year We Hid Away, because it was fantastic.
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.
I love Bowen’s stories because they have this depth, with plots about real life situations. With The Year We Hid Away, Bowen captures the college experience with characters who face unusual life challenges. My heart simultaneously broke and mended reading this wonderful story as two people struggle to get by and find solace in each other, only to have life rip that solace from them again.
Bowen’s novels are always well paced. They are never rushed or slow. The romance between the protagonists was even-keeled, no insta-love or unrealistic passion. The obstacles each character faced was real, and portrayed in a realistic fashion. That alone keeps me reading her novels because it’s refreshing and raw. It makes the struggles within the story authentic, and as a reader, I relate to it more.
This particular “sports romance” was different because it’s two people running from the sport they love. I did miss the hockey element in this story but I’m looking forward to more of that in the next book. Also, I listened to the audiobook version, and I enjoyed the narrators. I thought they both did a wonderful job portraying the emotions using their voice.
I highly recommend The Year We Hid Away to anyone who enjoys realistic New Adult novels based in a college setting.
STARS: 5 out of 5