4.5 surprising starsWow! This book really took me by surprise. I haven't read YA in a while but this was a freebie on Amazon right now, so I one-clicked it. I was intrigued by the premise and at the same time cautious because the bullying thing might be too much for me to handle. But I ended up really, really liking it. What I liked- I loved the writing. It has great dialogue and really well developed characters. The story didn't lag. There were no wasted dialogue or purple prose which seems to be common in this genre. Very well written. - The characters, Tate and Jared. I loved them, Tate especially. She was a tough cookie and I loved it when she finally fought back. That was the best part of the book for me. I also personally connected with them. Now, I didn't always agree with their choices, (Yes, I'm talking about you, Jared) but that doesn't mean I couldn't relate to them. - The plot. I thought the bully thing would offend me especially since it seems like the heroine, who was bullied, had the thing for her bully. But then I realized that they were actually friends before, and may or may have feelings for each other before they had a falling out. Their falling out was dealt with as the story progressed. And we get to see Jared side of the story. His explanation seems shallow at first but after I thought about it and putting into consideration what happened to him at the hands of his father, I could totally understand his reasoning. Again, not saying I agree with it but he was 14 or 15 when these changes occurred and by the time he was 18, he just fell into the pattern of making her life miserable.Bullying is such a sensitive topic right now, so I will let each reader judge for themselves but it's safe to say there was no physical bullying involved or anything like that. The bullying was more like in the vein of telling a guy who wanted to date her she had lice so he won't ask her out or something like that. But of this was set in high school, so rumor like that would totally make you a social leper. So Tate did suffer because of that. I did feel that Jared redeemed himself at the end, and what made his actions a little easier to understand was the fact that he was never a school bully per se. He didn't bully other kids. It was just Tate, which makes the reader wonder if there was more to it. - Loved that monologue that Tate delivered in front of the class with Jared listening. Loved it. I cried with her. And Jared's reaction. Wow! “Everything still hurts, but I know none of it is my fault. There are a lot of words that I could use to describe you, but the only one that includes sad, angry, miserable, and pitiful is “coward.” In a year, I’ll be gone, and you’ll be nothing but some washout whose height of existence was in high school.” My eyes were still on Jared, and my voice got strong again. The ache in my face from trying to hold back tears eased. “You were my tempest, my thunder cloud, my tree in the downpour. I loved all those things, and I loved you. But now? You’re a fucking drought. I thought that all the assholes drove German cars, but it turns out that pricks in Mustangs can still leave scars.”- The steam level. Again, this was YA, so I wasn't expecting any steam at all. But this one was surprisingly steamy. There were a couple of hot scenes and very hot dream sequence which are NSFW material. It fit with the characters though, so totally on board with the steam. :DThis is definitely one of the better YAs out there and if you can stomach YA or the sensitive topic, then this book will definitely work for you. Enjoy!