ARC Review: Believe by Erin McCarthy

Pub. Date: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: InterMix
232 pages
ebook (Trade Paperback publishing June 3rd, 2014 by Berkley Trade)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Robin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend's boyfriend. Now she's faced with being THAT girl, and couldn't be more disgusted with herself. She can't even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that's good and oh, so bad…

Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin's house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he's drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn't care that he's done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.

But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it's a na├»ve dream to believe that his record won't catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present…


I absolutely loved True and Sweet, books 1 and 2 in the True Believers series. Naturally I was extraordinarily excited about Believe. One of the things I loved most about True and Sweet, was how naturally the relationships between Rory and Tyler, and Jessica and Riley, developed. The relationships weren’t rushed, or hurried, and they always felt genuine and realistic. I also really loved the wit and the humor of the dialogue – especially the banter between Jessica and Riley in Sweet ( check out my review of Sweet). Believe really switched things up stylistically, and the change threw me as a reader.  

I was initially kind of annoyed by how quickly Robin and Phoenix’s relationship progressed. By the time the couples in the other two novels got together, it felt like a reward for the reader, because we got to see the relationships grow, and we had the chance to root for them to be together. Robin and Phoenix’s relationship felt too insta-lovey for me because there was no waiting, or questioning if or when they would end up together. The relationship itself was still believable – you could clearly see that there were a lot of similarities between the two characters, bringing them together - but I was nowhere near as emotionally invested. I missed the build up and the will they/ won’t they tension that the other two novels had in spades.

Where True and Sweet had a lot of humor to balance out the serious parts, Believe is almost humorless. We met Robin in book one, and coming into this novel, we know a lot of the reasoning behind some of the choices she makes. Because we know so much, it’s easy to understand why the more lighthearted humor just wouldn’t have worked this time around. From the tone, to the events, Believe is a much more serious novel. The seriousness was necessarily, but the wit and humor of McCarthy’s writing is what really drew me into books one and two. Even though I understood why these elements were absent, I still seriously missed them.

If I’d read Believe as a standalone, or prior to the previous two novels, I’m sure I would have liked it more – and don’t get me wrong, I really did like it. But, given how much I loved the style of the previous two novels, I spent a great deal of time contrasting the differences. Believe simply didn’t work for me as well as for me as the previous two novels, but I know there are readers who will adore the more serious side of Robin’s story.  

Rating 3/5

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

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