Title: Shane’s Harmony
Author: Amy Durham
My Rating: 4 stars
This book was such a nice, short and realistic read. I loved that it wasn’t filled with tension but showed a really refreshing way of a girl moving past trauma, and learning what it feels like to have people she can depend on.
*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.* please note: there will be slight spoilers ahead.
Some things you want to forget…
Trapped in a nightmare after a college party her freshman year, only sheer determination got Sydney Baldwin through her sophomore year. But the effort of pretending she can lead a normal life in the place the nightmare began has finally proved too much. After her final exams, she packs her belongings, resolved to leave campus life behind forever. She’s hoping for a fresh start, and being maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding seems like the first step to moving beyond the darkness of her past.
Some things you’ll never be proud of…
Growing up with a drug-addicted single mother taught Shane Dawson that it’s the people you love most who hurt you the worst. He made some bad choices as a teenager, but now he’s put his self-destructive behavior behind him. He’s earning good money working as a tattoo artist at Resolution Ink, alongside his best friend. Still, he’s careful to hide his loneliness by pretending to be the happy-go-lucky one of the bunch. People can’t hurt you if you keep them at arm’s length.
Some burdens are easier if they’re shared…
After meeting the handsome, tattooed best man at her friend’s wedding, feelings stir in Sydney she thought were dead forever. She sees through his carefree facade to recognize a kindred sadness, one that stares back at her when she looks in the mirror. The aftermath of betrayal.
Shane can’t stop thinking about Sydney. Even more than her beauty, it’s the haunted look behind her eyes that touches something inside him. The walls he’s spent years building around himself threaten to crumble, as Sydney leaves him vulnerable in ways he never expected.
Will their tortured pasts pull them into the shadows and ruin their chance at happiness? Or will Shane and Sydney find the courage to reach for the hope of a brighter future together?
This book was such a great surprise and I am thrilled that the author sent it to me for review! This is the third book in the Resolution series but they all stand-alone. I read this book very easily without having read the previous two.
In this book we meet Sydney, a girl struggling with a traumatic past and Shane, a tattoo artist who avoids his past by moving on to the future – often with quite a few girls. The book starts off the way a contemporary book often does, the main character dealing with something awful and a male who comes into her life. Despite it starting off a bit predictably, I was drawn to the characters from the first chapter and their voices were very distinct which was good. Sydney has realised that despite moving forward from her past, she cannot stay where she is, choosing to make a huge change, away from her family and school, beginning a new life.
Shane is a gentleman and I hardly believe that he is a player – his attitude toward Sydney is so sweet and lovely and the way he offers her a place to stay is great. I also love that when he finds out more about Sydney and how she was raped he doesn’t treat her any differently. He just holds her and is there for her. I also love that Sydney is determined to move past what happened. She doesn’t just get over it, but she is determined to create an ‘after’ that is her choice and her life. I think it is great to see that they both give each other space to think about things – she doesn’t push him about his Mum and he doesn’t push her (too much – he’s not perfect). Some of the best scenes were them just watching TV or cooking together. Normality in YA/NA books, especially romance, is so important.
The whole cast of characters in this book are great. I understand that there are two other books in this series and I am definitely interested in reading them as I loved the whole Redemption crew. Asher and Grace were wonderful, Gabe and Rachelle are awesome and I want to know more about Caleb! When Sydney revealed her history to them, I loved seeing them all come together in anger and righteous indignation. I also thought it was a great move for her to take control – really symbolic for her taking charge and acceptance of her past, despite what had happened.
It would have been great to have a little bit more conflict within the story as it felt a little bit lacking on the conflict side. I’m really intrigued by the Title Nine concept and would have liked that to go into a bit more detail, especially with Sydney finding out others had gone through what she had. It horrifies me that sexual assault could ever be treated this way by institutions and I really liked hearing that Sydney decided to make the step to do something more about it, especially with the Resolution crew behind her. I feel if there had been an ex-girlfriend on the scene or something happened with the family, it would have added some tension to the story. That being said, this book felt very normal and real-life, which was refreshing. In real life people move on, grow up and actually don’t run into each other. While some may argue that it is an unrealistic portrayal of a rape-survivor, I think it is, as not everyone will respond the same way. Seeing Sydney a year down the track and how she has moved on to a new normal is hopeful and full of agency.
Having read the authors thoughts on her own writings I can’t help feel peaceful when finishing this book. It is hopeful and lovely and leaves me longing for more. It is not long winded, it has great characters, all with their own distinct voices and it ends with a happy note. I am also pleased that it’s not sexually explicit, as ‘fade to black’ romance is sometimes my favourite.
I’d like to finish my review with a quote from the author – I hope she won’t mind me using it.
“At times during the writing of this book I thought that lack of “darkness” in my writing meant I wasn’t telling the story right. I hope that my “voice”, the aspect of my writing that I’ve always loved the most comes through in this story. HOPE. Perhaps it’s my personality. Perhaps it’s my heart, but I can’t help but write stories that carry a thread of hope. And my greatest desire is that Shane and Sydney’s story, one that came from places of great darkness for these characters, will be imbued with a sense of hope that I believe is available to EVERYONE, regardless of their circumstances.”
I will always admire authors who write what they feel is needed, and let me tell you, hope is truly needed.
Recommended for: YA/NA Contemporary romance lovers. This book is along the same sort of theme as Jessica Sorensen and Colleen Hoover’s work so if you like them you should check it out!
Quotes (Spoiler Free):
“I force myself to behave like the twenty-three year old I am, rather than the randy teenager I sometimes act like.”
“It will cost me nothing to give her this bit of comfort.”
“I was raped.” I interrupt my Dad with blunt words that stun him. “Not disabled. I’m still a whole person, and maybe it’s escaped your notice, but I’m actually doing okay.”
“If my life is a melody, a tune made up of single, individual pitches, Sydney is the harmony… the notes that accompany mine and make them richer and fuller.”
“Gym shorts, boxer briefs, same difference. Just drop your pants and get in bed before you collapse from lack of sleep.”
I love finding new books and was happily surprised with this book. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Xx Maddy xX