Author: Kristi Cook (Website | Twitter)
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
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My Review: I'd describe this book as a modern day Romeo and Juliette turned on its head. In other words: totally awesome. Jemma (Juliette) Cafferty (Capulet - wink wink) and Ryder (Romeo) Marsden (Montague) have been pushed together by their families since birth. The Caffertys and the Marsdens have a long history and have been trying to find a way to come together as one big family for forever but the timing has always been wrong - until now. Finally each family has a baby around the same age and one is a boy and the other is a girl. They're determined to get them together but Jemma and Ryder are determined to keep away from each other. Can you say perfect story set up?
The characters were my favorite part of this novel. I love Jemma and Ryder. They were both so stubborn and witty and it came together to create some seriously amazing dialogue. I loved them together and I loved that they didn't want to be together. They so would have been head over heels in love with each other if their parents hadn't been forcing it on them. They were rebelling. But I also really appreciated that they could push aside their differences when things got tough. Jemma and Ryder were very mature when they needed to be and that was just so refreshing. Seeing them pushed together by the storm was really interesting. I thought they handled it well and it put a certain type of pressure on their relationship that mixed up the pot. The only thing that sort of annoyed me was how easily Jemma got angry with Ryder. To me, the things he did weren't a big deal but Jemma would just blow up on him out of the blue.
The atmosphere in this novel was on point. Kristi Cook made me feel like I was in Mississippi with Jemma and Ryder. The descriptions were so detailed yet subtle. I fell flawlessly into the scenes and the world that Cook crafted. I could practically feel the humidity and hear the faint chirps of crickets.
This was one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year. I haven't read much from Kristi Cook before but, after this one, I'll be on the lookout for her other books! I just adored this one. Just thinking about it now makes me want to to pick it up again and reread it.
"You can imagine what it’s been like since our mothers first plopped us into a crib together, rubbing their hands in conspiratorial glee as they planned our wedding. Playdates followed where the adults smiled and cooed as they watched us dig in the sandbox, where Ryder tugging on my pigtails was a sure sign of his adoration, where me throwing sand in his face only proved my devotion."
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