I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour. Having read the three novels I recommend that the whole series is read to get a better grasp of the story and the characters. See my other two reviews for full details.
The first book in the Complicated Love Series (and I must explain that I read them in the order of publication, so I read book 2 first, then book 3 and last but not least, book 1) is told in the third person, with alternating chapters for each of the two main protagonists, the couple who are destined to fall in love, although at the point where the story starts you couldn’t find two more different people. Dina (Christina) a fourteen year old girl, daughter of a bohemian family, with a driven and determined mother, a virgin, studious, invisible to many and not particularly attractive. And Riley (Nicholas), a seventeen year old wild boy, head of the Outcast Crew, best friends with Johnny, Dina’s brother, part of the music band (waiting for a name at that point), the black sheep of the Rileys (and old moneyed family from Shanwick) who’s never noticed Dina other than to tease her. He has all the girls in the world, does not study and embarrasses his family no end. He also has a reputation as a psycho. How do these two characters find each other? Well, Dina auditions as singer for the band and her voice talks to Riley’s soul.
The book could well be a Young Adult or New Adult story, with interesting characters, strong friendship and bonds, stories of bullying, drugs, wild parties, inappropriate relationships, teenage love, talent and misunderstandings galore. This novel follows the chronological order of the romance between the characters, without any of the jumps in time that characterised the other two, and it also has its share of hilarious moments and disappointments and sadness. Gabby, Dina’s sister, although young, only ten, is already one of the stars of the book and a force to be reckoned with, and we get to meet the parents and get a more rounded picture of events.
The writing style is compact, easy to follow and the dialogues are one of the strengths of the book.
I did enjoy this novel and thought many readers would enjoy it too, although it is perhaps different in tone to the other two (there are some sexy moments but definitely it is much tamer regarding the sexual encounters of the characters, although not squeaky-clean). Readers who read this novel first and then move on to the rest might find them quite a different reading experience, although the characters’ journey can be followed through the three novels and develops in an understandable and organic manner.