At this point in time, I’ve read enough books classified under the heading of New Adult to know a bit about what many of them contain and pertain to in the scheme of love stories. There are some that have managed to catch me very well (“Sea of Tranquility”, “Unteachable”, “Reason to Breathe,” etc.) while others have been either in the middle column of “Ehh…it’s okay but not my cuppa” to the lower column of “Are you serious?”
I think Blue Ashcroft’s “Deeper” would probably go in the latter column/category. This book had me cringing, and it commits rampant sexism at the very same time it speaks against it. What on earth happened here?
I’ll admit my interest in this book was primarily for the sea/swimming theme that it has (being a girl who grew up 30 minutes from the beach most of her life and taking frequent trips, swimming and stories set on the water naturally draw me in), and for the cover. I love the models and lettering on this one. I wanted it to be as good as the cover showed. I wish it had been.
It really wasn’t, far from it. This was a short galley of only 155 pages, but it took forever to get through.
Let me introduce Rain: she’s a lifeguard with a tragic past. Her former boyfriend (not really) is dead and she feels she can never love again, at least until she sees the mysterious stranger staring at her with the blue eyes from across the bonfire. Said stranger kisses her upon meeting initially (Ba-da-da-da, I’m an instalove machine…and I won’t work for nobody but yooou…).
Turns out that said stranger is Knight (As in White Knight? As in the hero who is supposed to do all the saving and he’s a lifeguard to boot? I have no words. No points for naming creativity because that’s FAR too obvious. Plus the explanation of his mom liking too many romance novels made me groan).
Knight and Rain do not hit it off very well when they realize they’re working with each other to manage other lifeguards in training for the summer. Matter in point, Knight’s thoughts pretty much center on ways to possess Rain at every chance he gets, and his claims to her of “Oh, you shouldn’t make that kind of save in the water because someone might sexually harass you in the process” made me want to virtually toss his misogynistic rear overboard. Several times. And the attention to how they felt each other up during training exercises left me feeling quite uncomfortable in the scheme of things, but I tried to read through the story without raging as much as I could. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt to see where the story would actually go.
There’s a lot of heavy handed assertions that the two leads will be together – there’s a point where I think Knight says they’re “inevitable” and I’m mentally going “I don’t want to hear this, I would rather find out if you two end up together on my own. STOP selling that point to me every other page!” And given that it’s inevitable that Knight would start punching people – namely guys – over Rain…yep, typical New Adult formula put in full swing. Argh.
The “tragic pasts” subsection of this book is threadbare and formulaic – I couldn’t connect to it at all. Rain’s former boyfriend wasn’t even her boyfriend – they weren’t dating, never had a chance to. She had it in her mind that she wanted to ask him out and then tragedy struck. And her mental messaging shortly becomes “I never wanna love or trust anyone again!” In the same vein, Knight also has a loss in his past with a girl who suffered from depression (and the way that mental illness is treated in this book made a small part of me weep for the mishandling).
That’s not even the worst thing though – the near rape scenes in this book? Not just one but the multitude of them? Dear goodness, no. Amy, a young woman swimming in the water – is whirlpooled by a bunch of teenage boys who rip off her clothes in the water. Rain tries to save her, but gets manhandled in the process and she can’t get out as they rip and claw at her, dragging her under the water.
And her thoughts are along the lines of “I wish Knight were here to save me, I would rather take seeing his sexist face saving me than deal with these guys on my own.”
Amy gets pushed out of the way, Rain gets rescued by Knight, and then he has the audacity to think “How can she do that to me? How can she put herself in danger when I told her what would happen?”
…I can’t even. A part of me laughed because if I didn’t, I probably would’ve been crying for how bad this was portrayed. It’s among the worst I’ve seen in New Adult so far. Just utterly ridiculous and so unrealistic.
The scene with the little girls though made me utterly sick. I wasn’t laughing then, I was mentally just…gone from that point in the book. I couldn’t believe it went in that direction. Not enough to have teenage boys nearly rape a girl in a pool or take advantage of a drunk girl and puts herself in “compromising” positions, but to have a creepy pedophile touching little girls in the pool in this as well? WTF?
And you have the typical bitch-slamming, slut-shaming antics that pepper some of the worst titles in New Adult in this book as well. At that point, I just read to the end and felt like when I finished the galley, I was glad to be done with it for good.
0 stars. Because I’m very certain I’ve read better titles in this genre that don’t make a mockery of others’ suffering than this book did. I would’ve much appreciated a realistic viewpoint of the trials and tribulations of being a lifeguard and two individuals who fall in love naturally than being forcefed this the whole way through.
Overall score: 0/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.