Author: M.B. Mulhall
Published: March 7, 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Eighteen-year-old Oliver’s troubles don’t end when he’s released from prison. He has nowhere to go, and he can’t even think about moving past his crimes while trying to survive homelessness.
Helping an elderly woman after a fall guides Oliver into at least a temporary home. In exchange for odd jobs and some assistance, he’s welcomed into a life with the old twin spinsters, and it seems too good to be true. The neighbor, Simon, certainly thinks it is. He doesn’t trust Oliver or his motives. Oliver is used to that kind of judgment, but it isn’t helping him overcome his guilt. Maybe Simon is right and Oliver doesn’t deserve happiness—or any of the other feelings stirring in a heart Oliver thought he’d closed off for good.
Oliver has two options: let the pain of his past swallow him and destroy all hope for the future, or move on to the new possibilities in front of him. Choosing to live won’t be easy, and Oliver might not be able to do it alone.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Hello! So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a review. And by a hot minute, I mean a month. Whoops? (Also, don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase ‘hot minute’ before. Interesting.)
Anyway, I’m excited that the book that breaks me out of my reviewing slump is Driven, which is the driver (haha, get it) of the first blog tour I’m a part of! It’s very cool.
This book is about 18 year old Oliver, who is stuck living on the streets due to his mysterious past. A chance incident leads him to meet these two old but extremely sharp ladies (who are probably my favorite characters), and they decide after inviting him to dinner to take him in temporarily. As the book progresses, Oliver struggles with opening up to them, learning how to trust again, and realizing who’s on his side and who’s not.
Oliver’s character – Oliver, who is always on the defensive and quick to lash out, is tough to love at times. He’s really unique- he’s a mishmash of character tropes (anxiety-riddled, a painter, and an (ex) criminal) that I thought would clash or be too unrealistic. However, he turned out to be a complex, multi-faceted character who really grew on me.
The plot – Don’t let the short length of this book fool you. This book isn’t just fluff; it’s packed with romance, of course, but also action, angst, and mystery. This book does not shy from constructing a harsh and unfair reality for Ollie. While it’s content does not make for an easy read sometimes, it makes for an entertaining one. Speaking of fluff, however…
The romance! – I love me a good slow-burn romance. I’m glad we got to see Oliver and Simon’s relationship from the beginning, as it goes through some big changes throughout the book. They’re very hot-and-cold with each other sometimes, but M.B. Mulhall writes them so you can see their unwavering compassion for each other no matter what they say or what they go through. Plus, they have two of my favorite romance tropes: hate-to-love and the-boy-next-door. (Thank you, Mulhall)
The diction- This is a very hard criticism for me to pinpoint. I liked the writing for the majority of this book, but there were certain lines and trails of dialogue that seemed out of place. Sometimes the characters would launch into proclamations that were a lil too cheesy for me and didn’t feel natural. There were also a lot of weirdly specific metaphors and sayings thrown in that I didn’t understand completely. (Though it could be a regional slang) But there were frequently a lot of pieces of dialogue or descriptions that didn’t sit right with me, which unfortunately dampened my enjoyment of this book.
Tl;dr: This is a good contemporary to read through in a weekend! If you’re looking for an angsty romance (which, let’s face it, who isn’t?) this book should satisfy. Though the writing is stilted sometimes, the characters are fun to be around and the plot is never boring.
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Blog Tour Schedule!
March 10 — Guest Post on Boy Meets Boy Reviews
March 12 — Review on Book Pandamonium
March 12 — Review on From Top to Bottom Reviews