ARC Review: Sweet by Erin McCarthy


Pub. Date: October 15th, 2013
Publisher: InterMix
257 pages
ebook (Trade Paperback publishing June 3rd, 2014 by Berkley Trade)

Synopsis from Goodreads:


Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house.

Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself.

Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her…

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Some books blow you away with description, others with dialogue. "Sweet" is definitely a book that blows you away in the dialogue department. 

When I first started reading Sweet, I didn’t realize that it was book two in the True Believers series. While I don’t think reading the books in order is absolutely necessary, reading them in order gives you more context about the characters backgrounds, and a stronger sense of flow from one story to the next. Sweet is one of those novels that grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let me go until the last. I started reading just before bed, and while the logical side of my brain told me ‘go to sleep, you have to work in the morning’, I was so into the story and so in love with the characters that I couldn’t help but finish the novel in one sitting.

Jessica Sweet’s voice is what drew me in right away. She is one of the wittiest, funniest, most sarcastic, and completely no nonsense characters that I have ever read. I connected with her in a way that I don’t connect with many characters.
Even though there’s a lot of lightness and fun and games to her character, there is a serious side that we slowly become privy to as the story progresses. Jessica feels so human, relatable and real, that you emotionally connect and care about everything that goes on her life, as you would if your best friend were in her shoes.

As awesome as Jessica is, Sweet wouldn’t be the same without Riley. The bickering and banter between Jessica and Riley is just fantastic. Going from practically despising each other, to where they end up at the end of the novel, is only possible because of how much their bantering challenges them, and helps them gain an understanding of the other in a pretty freaking adorable way. For every ounce of distained sarcasm Jessica is able to drop on Riley, he is just as capable of dishing it back. The result not only makes you realize just how perfect they are for each other, but keeps you thoroughly entertained while they figure that out too. Riley is loveable even when he’s being a cocky inappropriate jerk, and he’s really the perfect opponent to Jessica’s straightforwardness. The banter drives the story, and as dialogue, completely blew me away.

Even though at times I laughed myself into stitches, the serious aspects of the story are what make you connect fully with the characters.  The entire reason Jessica and Riley are forced together is because they are separately dealing with family issues. While Jessica seems to never do or say anything that isn’t 100% genuine, she’s actually hiding from the expectations her highly religious family have placed on her. Riley’s families’ complexity is a feature throughout the entire series (one of the reasons reading them in order gives you a much stronger sense of flow), and his battle to stay part of the family helps you see the vulnerable side of a guy constantly showing off his bravado.

What I love about the series and McCarthy’s writing is how realistic her characters are. There is no insta-love, or damaged girl needing to be saved by a boy. Instead, Sweet gives you the story of two realistic people, dealing with realistic problems, who are bettered by a relationship. There are real highs, and real lows, just like in real life. In my opinion Sweet represents New Adult at its best.  I absolutely couldn’t get enough of Jessica and Riley’s story. I definitely recommend the True Believers series.  

Rating 4.5/5

*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.