Monday, 22 January 2018

ARC Review: Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

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*Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does in no way affect my opinion, and all thoughts expressed in this review are unbiased and my own.*

Title: Breaking the Ice
Series: Juniper Falls #2
Author: Julie Cross
My rating: 4 hearts
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pub. date: December 26th, 2017
SynopsisThe second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner. 

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Breaking the Ice really surprised me. I’ll admit, I didn’t have the highest of expectations, because, while I really liked the first book, I wasn’t too fond of Haley, and wasn’t sure if the author would be able to redeem her to me, enough that I would enjoy reading her story.

I was wrong. Oh so very wrong, because I ended up loving Haley, and I ended up liking her and Fletcher’s story even more than I enjoyed Claire and Tate’s. I related so much to both characters, and while the plot had some flaws, the characters made up for it, and I couldn’t help but finish it way sooner than I would’ve liked it to end.

Haley has grown so much since the first book.

As I said, I didn’t really like her in the first book, so I really didn’t think I’d like her now, but I was wrong. I did like her. From the start, you can tell how much she’s changed, not because of the way she acts, but the way she thinks. She doesn’t want to be the same person as she was in the first book, and the way she struggles to not be that person, how she can’t even see that she’s so far from that person, well, it warmed me up to her and made me love her. I also loved how she refused to let herself, or the other cheerleaders, be the stereotypical mean girls. She’s really a very sweet person, and she struggles with things a lot of teens can probably relate to. I certainly do. The stuff about never doing well enough? That hit close enough home that it was tough to read this book.

Fletcher is as un-stereotypical as a person can get.

Fletcher has asthma, and a lot of very serious food allergies. He’s a hockey player, but he’s the opposite of every other hockey player I’ve ever read about. He’s shy, avoids drawing attention to himself, which also means people at school rarely notice him. He hates letting people in, and doesn’t easily trust people.  And he also reminded me a lot of myself. But, there’s another side to him, one he shows at his work, and sometimes with Haley. He becomes a whole different person when he dances – and that is something I can completely understand.

There’s a lot of character growth in this book.

For me, the characters are probably the most important thing in a book, and for a character to be relatable and realistic, they need to change throughout the story. Both Haley and Fletcher have their flaws, some pretty major flaws, but that’s completely unimportant, because while they make mistakes, they also learn from them and end up being better people because of it. And that makes the flaws forgivable – because, let’s face it, what person is completely perfect?

The romance was great.

One thing that I found utterly beautiful about this story was how Haley and Fletcher started out as friends. They have fun together, laugh together, and they’re comfortable with each other. They genuinely like each other and like being around one another before they fall in love. And that’s wonderful, because I think the friendship part is too often downplayed in romance novels. The importance of friendship in a relationship shouldn’t be downplayed.

The plot had some flaws.

I’ll admit the book was a bit too slow for my liking, and I would’ve liked some more plot, not only romance, but so much happened to the characters, they changed so much, that it wasn’t bad enough that I ever considered putting it down – not even for food or socializing with my family. I cared so much about the characters that I couldn’t put it down, regardless of lack of plot.

Breaking the Ice is a sweet, romantic book. It’s certainly character-oriented, which is why I loved it so much. If you’re looking for a romantic story with characters that you can’t help but feel for, then Breaking the Ice is a must-read.

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