Believe - Erin McCarthy 2.5 stars

I'm just not sure what to make of this book. I don't think it's a bad book. In fact, I think a lot of people will probably like it. There were just a lot of things that didn't work for me.

I read this book because it was on sale, had a catchy synopsis, and a compelling cover. It's NA and I've been on a winning streak lately with NA, reading pretty good stuff which is sort of unusual for this genre.

The streak is now officially over and I have to blame Believe. Like I said, I think a lot of others will like this. For me, it was too fast, too superficial and too inconsistent.

We are told that Robin was a party girl in the first few pages. She literally tells us. Explaining that she spent most of college going to parties, making out with random guys and getting drunk. A few pages in and she sleeps with her best-friend's boyfriend while black out drunk. Post-sleeping-with-boy-disaster she's a hot mess. She feels terrible, and naturally friend's boyfriend turns out to be a total creeper.

The problem for me here was that she tells us that she used to be a party girl, but we never get to see it, so it's hard to believe that it is part of her character. Telling just isn't as effective as showing. Yes, we see that she slept with her friends guy, but that's all. That isn't enough to establish her as a reckless and out of control character, which is what the rest of the book is predicated upon.

Robin does a completely 180 after her mistake. The Robin the reader actually gets to know is reclusive, unconcerned about her looks, and depressed. The opposite of a party-girl. That's all we see for the rest of the book.

When Phoenix steps into the picture, fresh out of jail, I got back on board. So what if the heroine is tepid? A hot bad boy is all a story really needs. He was attractive and interesting. Nothing like a bad boy with tattoos to spice a book up. So we find out he's had a hard life (haven't they all?) and of course he and Robin hit off immediately. I do mean IMMEDIATELY. Within days of knowing each other, really within seconds of kissing each other, Robin is ready to go all the way. That's also fine, if that worked for her character, but it just didn't resonant with me. They moved too fast. Sex doesn't always equal love, but since the premise of the book is that these two characters are falling in love, I didn't think leaping into bed was the way to do it. Especially since Robin had just freaked about her latest sexual escapade. Also, they declare their love for each other WITHIN PAGES. Insta-love really only works when it is in a paranormal and the supernatural beings are not suppose to follow normal human emotional patterns. Even then it gets dicey. So I was annoyed. Insta-love is no bueno.

Oh and lest I forget, to add to the insta-love ridiculousness, Phoenix is a tattoo artist (because that is what bad boys do these days) and he decides, in the tradition of Maddox from Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire, to get a tattoo. Not just any tattoo, but you guessed it! a portrait of his one-true-love (well at least his true love of the last three days) on his ribs.

(Don't worry, Robin ALSO gets a tattoo-- of a blue bird. Because her name is Robin and in Phoenix's tattoo of her she is wearing a blue bird necklace that she doesn't actually possessed. So this was clearly the right choice for Robin to get on her to represent Phoenix on her body. Yes, I'm confused too. And enough with H and hs getting tattooed for each other! It's forever! Forever.

Moving on, Phoenix and Robin are in love and want to be together. Then comes the baggage. They've each got a lot things to deal with emotional and they have to get over it-- together. So that's all fine too, it was the most profound thing ever, but it was fine.

The next thing that didn't work for me was that Phoenix and Robin are both clean. Phoenix has always been drug and alcohol free because of his junkie mom. Okay, I can buy that. It seems logical. But he came off sounding like a public service announcement at times, even though the obligatory, "you can do what you want, it doesn't bother me, I just have chosen to live my life this way," comments were thrown in.

Then we're expected to believe that Robin has also gone clean and now essentially considers herself an alcoholic (a consequence of her party-girl life style). Again, that's fine, maybe she was making poor choices with alcohol and I applaud her decision not to drink, but it got a little over the top. Are all college party-girls doomed to become alcoholics?


By the end, Robin, in a her darkest moment, basically chugs a bottle of tequila and winds up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. Then she decides she IS an addict and goes to rehab?! I'm just not sure how this series of events occurred. One minute she had made some bad choices and needed to cut back, and the next she is sitting alone in her apartment chugging straight from a bottle?! A lot of disconnect going on here. She somehow got to the lowest place an addict can go within the span of like, an hour? There was no gradual downhill slide, there was just fine and then-- REALLY NOT FINE.

Is the message that if you ever make a bad choice with alcohol then you have a problem with it? Even in college when kids are likely to make a lot of really bad choices before they wise up and make good ones? I think not. I think she could probably have just called it quits for a bit, rehab was overkill. Phoenix freaking and deciding she was near death and needed help was over the top. Really the whole thing just seemed like overkill.

All that just overshadowed the idea of the love story and the hot bad boy, for me.