Truly by Carmel Rhodes
The summer after senior year was supposed to be the best summer of my life.
It was supposed to be full of adventure and self-discovery and making love under the stars.
It was supposed to be about losing myself and finding my way.
Only, it wasn’t supposed to start like this.
I wasn’t supposed to go to that party.
He wasn’t supposed to notice me.
The hot jock with the trust fund and chip on his shoulder.
My ex-boyfriend’s half-brother.
Noah Tedesco is so far out of my league he might as well be playing a different game.
Noah wasn’t supposed to look twice at a girl like me, but he did.
Now that I’m on his radar, my life will never be the same.
Truly is a dark, coming of age romance that explores themes like NON-CON DUB-CON, and happily ever after.
– 4 stars
– Dark/Bully Romance
– Interracial Couple
– BiPOC main character/author
** spoiler alert ** There are trigger warnings in the beginning of this book for a reason. Please heed them! If you are not into dark bully romance, this won’t be for you. (And that’s ok!!)
But… if you do like dark bully romance, if – like me – you like your romance rough, then you need to read this book by Carmel Rhodes. It was my first book by her and now I want to read all her works.
We meet Truly at her high school graduation getting dumped by her boyfriend. The night only gets worse as she’s traumatized by her ex’s estranged brother, Noah. I will admit that I was angry and upset at how we meet Noah and I wasn’t sure how the story could progress in anyway. But that’s this trope for you (not that I think any of the actions are in anyway condonable in reality!!!).
Truly tries to move forward and sets off on a coming of age road trip with her bestie the next day. However, we find out that her bestie invited her bf and his friend – you guessed it, it’s Noah!!
Noah is all the broody possessiveness you can imagine. He’s sexy and rough and he pushes every boundary. He recognizes how wrong he was and tries to get out of his own way to make it up to Truly. However, you want to slap him around again and again because he really can’t get out of his own way completely. He’s so driven by his intense obsession with Truly and sometimes it’s scary but, for Truly, it feeds into the dark needs she has that she never knew existed until Noah.
Their connection progresses and because of Rhodes’ exceptional writing – you buy it. You get invested. You want this to work. You seem them grow and evolve as people, as young adults and as a couple and you hope that they can both find a way to make this work in the long run.
I love how strong Truly is. She sees that she’s coming into her own and she’s owning her evolving sexuality and nature She doesn’t let Noah completely run roughshod over her. She stands her ground when she has to and she makes sure he knows she’s not a doormat. I think it’s important when exploring these kinds of relationships – dominant and submissive, or consensual nonconcent themes – you have to realize that the power exchange is about trust and that both people are willingly, enthusiastically, participating. It only works when both individuals recognize each other’s strength and trust and communication are key.
You start to fall for Noah and Truly, together, in moments of vulnerability and you become enthralled with their story and you want to see them make it. Survive all of it.
The spice and steam in this book is off the charts – Carmel Rhodes set it on fire. If you like a well-written, smutty, boundary pushing, dark romance, bully romance, enemies-to-lovers vibe – pick this up ASAP.