It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken...no matter how hard we tried.
I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.
Caroline's Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Gah! This book! It was a slow burn. It was torturous. It was moments of joy. It was moments of despair.
Lake and her older sister, Tiffany, couldn’t be more different. At 16, Lake is innocent, sweet, and naïve. She’s never had a boyfriend or even been kissed. She’s focused on school and her goal to get to USC, just like her father, who she strives to please. At 19, Tiffany is quite the opposite. She’s sexually experienced and only seems to be interested in boys, partying, clothes and makeup. She left school with no employment or real-life goals, having failed at academia.
“Some invisible tether existed between us. Nobody could see it, not even us, but I felt it.”
Manning is 23 and a construction worker on the building site next door. When Lake encounters Manning, he awakens something inside her. Never really interested in boys before, her sudden attraction to Manning is something completely alien to her. Unfortunately, when Tiffany finds them talking to each other, she sets her sights on him.
“My world had been so dark before her. It worried me how far I’d go to keep that light in my life.”
Told from Lake and Manning’s POV, this was a tale of first love, yearning, desperation, denial, and bad choices. Manning is a quiet man, suffering in silence over a past tragedy, stoic in his determination to keep Lake at arm’s length, but also helpless to keep her there because she brings such light, joy, and purpose into his empty, dark life. He is inexorably drawn to her and her goodness, simultaneously feeling fraternally protective of her, as well as sexually attracted to her.
Lake is young and on the cusp of womanhood. She lives in her beautiful sister’s shadow, which has never bothered her before, but meeting Manning has made her desire to be more experienced about love and sex. Tiffany comes across as a spiteful, selfish brat but, at the same time, she definitely had her softer moments when we realised that, deep down, she loves her younger sister. I think, for the most part, she’s misunderstood by her exacting father. She yearns for affection in all the wrong places.
“I was better at hiding it, but my reaction to her was the same. Physical. Powerful. Painful.”
This story is the first part in a trilogy and it definitely left me wanting and impatient for more. I found it almost impossible to put down! It was certainly addictive reading. I really felt for Manning, whose desire for a young girl is all kinds of wrong. However, his connection to Lake was something he quickly became addicted to and drove him to make risky decisions, which ultimately leads to a shocking cliffhanger! You finish the story with an empty, hollow feeling, wondering how things will ever come right, and experiencing a certain amount of despair at the unfairness of life.
The next instalment cannot come soon enough. Roll on May!!