Book Review: Believe by Erin McCarthy

Posted January 20, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Believe by Erin McCarthy

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Believe by Erin McCarthy
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, General, New Adult, Romance
Published by Penguin on 2014-01-21
Pages: 145
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley


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 naïve 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... Praise for Erin McCarthy “McCarthy’s entry in the burgeoning new adult subgenre is a page-turning, gut-wrenching success.”—RT Book Reviews (Top Pick) “McCarthy has written a new adult love story that takes us on a journey filled with love, laughter, growth, and a bit of angst.”—Smexybooks “Not everything in life is wrapped up nicely with a pretty ribbon on top and this book shows that...If you are a fan of NA, this one is a must-read.”—Between the Lines

Also by this author: Shatter, Burn, Gone with the Ghost

Third in the True Believers New Adult romance series and revolving around a group of college friends. The couple focus is on Robin and Phoenix Sullivan.

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher.

My Take
It feels weird that I haven’t read Sweet, 2, and it’s confusing my memory with trying to remember who was the focus in True, 1. That’s not to say that you have to have read the first two in this series, but I do recommend it, as Believe will be more meaningful if you understand the background on the supporting characters. That said, I didn’t find this one as amazingly good as True. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good. It’s very good with some excellent messages for college-age kids. Notice I didn’t use the word students because the morals and ideas apply to any person in that age group. Heck, these are messages that are good for people of any age.

“Life is like waiting in line at the grocery store. You wait, you slowly move forward, you pay the price, then you exit unsatisfied and broke.”

In this particular story, alcohol poses a major problem and there are preconceived ideas of where a college student should apply one’s energies. Ideas which turn into a mighty and expensive wake-up call that doesn’t quite last, since the person in question keeps running until the lesson really sinks in.

There’s no gameplaying in this, which is refreshing. Yeah, pride still raises its ugly head, but for the most part, McCarthy handles it well. Very real. Guys, you might be able to pick up a few moves from Phoenix. I sure enjoyed his approach. He put such thought into what he gives Robin and doesn’t worry about it making him look like a wimp. I also love that he encourages her to make her own friends, to stay on track for school, that he doesn’t make her feel bad for pursuing a college degree. He’s good for Robin too. She’s seeing a less-privileged (!) life and realizing how lucky she’s been. You guys can also pick up tips on what not to do from Nathan. What a skeeve!

McCarthy is a little heavy handed on the “if only I had” as her foreshadowing device; I suspect it’s an attempt to bring the tension in. What it did engender was irritation. The scene in which Tyler and Phoenix question Robin’s making new friends seemed to be a missed opportunity as was the second Robin episode. It slid too easily into the big denouement. As much as I hated the follow-through however, it did feel very real. Made me angry as well as bad for Phoenix. After all he’s been through, and then this…

I had never really thought, deeply anyway, about how a tattoo was created, and this was an interesting aside. It did make for an interesting analogy about life, about not being able to retract a mistake.

LOL, this is not what I would consider home improvement, but hey, he’s a guy!

“She had done some home improvement shit like pulling up the nasty carpet and putting cookies in the cookie jar and washing dishes.”

It’ll make you cry as Phoenix experiences all these firsts. Events that most of us take for granted. Love, a hug. A picnic. A birthday party. God, the imagery McCarthy conjured up in this kept me sighing… And I don’t get why Phoenix went to jail. They should have given him a medal…!

There are so many quotes in here that I love (be warned, these quotes may change by the time the book is published, but the thought behind them will be the same)!

“It’s harder to let go of fear when you have something to lose. Being fearless is easier if you have nothing to risk.”

“Normal doesn’t mean you’re not interesting. You don’t need drama to be interesting.”

“If you are even thinking about it, then you care enough to deserve forgiveness.”

“It’s not up to me to protect you or save you from being with me. That you’re smart and you know what you want and I trust that.”

“There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”

I do love how McCarthy resolves the Davis question! Woo-hoo, good choices!

I did feel cheated by the shallowness and lack of tension in this. I wish McCarthy had gone deeper on Robin and Phoenix’s mutual and basic conflict, make me wonder about the whole would they, would they not question.

Still, it’s a cozy and sweet read, and I’m torn as to whether it really needed anything more.

The Story
One drunken mistake has ruined Robin’s life, and she has no idea how she can make it better other than to run away. To leave. But then she meets Phoenix Sullivan, and the way he makes her feel about herself…running is not what’s on her mind.

The Characters
Robin is a good girl from a normal family, pursuing a graphic arts degree so she can combine her love for painting with a job. Her parents, Juan and Julia, are in their sixties, and Nona lives with the family. Her brother, Marco, recently brought his girlfriend, Rebecca, round for Sunday dinner.

The ever-happy Kylie (she’s been dating Nathan Tucker, Tyler’s best friend, for quite awhile now) and Rory are her two remaining roommates, after Jessica ditched them in Sweet for Riley.

Phoenix Sullivan is Tyler’s cousin, artistic, and just gotten out of prison for assault. Jackie is Phoenix’s POS mother hooked on heroin. Sounds too familiar, that his mom wouldn’t “like the idea that anyone could be happy or enjoying something”. Iggy was his mom’s last boyfriend. Angel is his POS girlfriend. Bob is the owner of the tattoo parlor; Paul is one of the tattooists. Davis is one of the cons from prison who claims Phoenix owes him.

Tyler Mann (True) is with the very bright Rory Macintosh. Riley is Tyler’s older brother, and Jayden, a.k.a., U, is 18 now and Easton, 11, are the younger brothers. All the brothers and Jessica are living together in the house, and Jessica helped Riley get custody of Easton. Nathan Turner (he’s madly in love with Kylie) had grown up with Grant and Tyler, and he and Grant share an apartment with Bill.

Christian is with the Sober club at school along with Stefan, Blakeley, and Harper, who is so cluelessly rude. Zeke is the bar owner.

The Cover
The cover is a black-and-white photograph of a very-tattooed and shirtless Phoenix leaning over Robin. All the text except the publisher’s name and logo is in a block of red, black, and white in the lower center.

The title is about love, about Robin’s morals, about not hurting. They just want to Believe.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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