Sarina Bowen has this unique ability to make everything feel fresh again. Her New Adult The Ivy Years series is so refreshing. Her characters have depth, face real issues and respond to the world in believable ways. Her characters have real personalities; I feel like I know them personally. They have quirks, flaws and inside jokes. They have damaged pasts and look forward to the future while just trying to get by in the present.
The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.
For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.
Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.
Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.
Her books are so much fun to read. The Shameless Hour has two unbelievably fun characters with strong personalities. Bella likes sex and she’s not afraid to say what she’s thinking. Rafe is sturdy and really sweet and considerate. When they get together, it is like a wildfire. The pages were burning in my hands, and Bowen knows how to string the reader along as we root for them with the delicate hope that it’ll all work out in the end. The combination of Bella’s brazen attitude and Rafe’s Spanish curses had me fanning myself while reading.
There is some tough subject matter in this story. Bella goes through a horrible experience that could have been worse and is all too common on college campuses across the nation. I was just as frustrated as Rafe that she didn’t tell anybody and I was just as broken as Bella as she tried to deal with her new situation. I liked how Bowen offered both perspectives, because it’s easy for someone to say “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” when it’ll only heap more damage on the victim. Still, if it happens to you, TELL SOMEBODY!
I listened to the audiobook and the narrators did an amazing job at portraying the different accents throughout the books, whether it was Rafe’s Dominican accent or Bickley’s English accent. I really enjoyed this book. It had me laughing out loud, grinning like an idiot, and gripping my chest as my heart squeezed in pain.
I definitely recommend The Shameless Hour to anyone who enjoys New Adult, stories with a message and/or just a story with two intriguing characters with a hell of a lot of sizzling chemistry.
STARS: 4.5 out of 5