Published by Blink on 9/27/16
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Mysteries
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
Willow Lamott’s best friend is a murderer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. For four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind Ashton’s mask of rage, she sinks deeper into his sinister world and begins to question whether he’s a villain, a savior, or both.
Ashton thought he wanted vengeance, until Willow reminded him what he’d been missing. Now he longs to clear his name and become the person she sees in him. But the closer they get to uncovering the truth, the darker the secrets become, and Ashton fears his return to Gilt Hollow will destroy everyone he loves, especially the girl he left behind.
Gilt Hollow feels more like a YA romance with a bit of mystery thrown in than like a true mystery, which suited me just fine. (In fact, that’s the way I prefer my mysteries since the romance element typically holds my attention more than the actual mystery does.) I cared a lot more about Willow and Ashton’s personal journeys than I did about who specifically killed their friend. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely plenty of clues to the mystery woven into the story, but those weren’t the aspects of the book that kept me flipping the pages (and I did keep flipping the pages—I think I read the book in two sittings).
What Fed My Addiction:
- Bad boy with a heart of gold. Ashton fits this trope perfectly. And, sure, it’s a trope, but it’s one that works for me when it’s done right. I felt like Langdon did it justice. In this case, we have Ashton, who’s been wrongly convicted of a crime and spent years in juvie because of it. Ashton is a truly good person, which is established right from the very start, but his time in juvie and his anger over what he’s been through has left him with some rough edges. Ashton isn’t the type of bad boy who’s just a plain jerk but the main character falls for him anyway because he’s swoony. Willow’s feelings for Ashton are complicated because she has history with him and has always stood behind him, but she does see an undercurrent of danger in him that makes her nervous and makes her doubt him a bit.
- Misunderstandings that actually make sense. This is another trope that can sometimes bug me a lot, but that Langdon managed to weave into the story in a way that made sense. We find out right from the very beginning that Willow and Ashton have some hostility between them based solely on a misunderstanding—Ashton is upset that Willow cut all ties with him and abandoned him when he was convicted, and Willow is upset that Ashton never responded to any of her letters. It’s obvious that something is amiss here: If Willow was writing him, why didn’t he get her letters? Now, it sometimes bugs me when a simple misunderstanding creates all the tension in a relationship, but in this case it sort of made sense. After all, both Willow and Ashton had years to stew on their side of the story and things between them were understandably awkward and somewhat hostile when Ashton returned—it made sense that they wouldn’t instantly confront each other in the midst of that awkwardness to talk about their feelings. And the mystery of what happened with the letters was just one more piece of the total mystery pie. (Yeah, that’s a weird metaphor, but I’m going with it.) Like I said, I was more invested in the relationships than the actual mystery, so mysteries surrounding their past were more interesting to me than those surrounding the crime.
- Teen angst that didn’t feel unwarranted. Sometimes I love a little bit of teen angst—those elevated emotions that made everything feel a little more desperate and painful. In this case, those emotions seemed completely valid and believable. After all, the stakes were really high—Ashton had gone to juvie for a crime he didn’t commit, and now was being threatened, along with Willow. No one is overreacting here because at least one person already died. It’s not so crazy to think that it could happen again. And it was completely understandable that Willow had both doubts and strong feelings about Ashton given their history. Her confusion is justified, and that made me sympathize with both her and Ashton all the more!
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- The mystery. The first half of this book didn’t feel like much of a mystery at all. Sure there was some question as to who was trying to get Ashton to leave town and who was threatening Willow, but the book didn’t seem to focus on that as much as the relationships between the characters. And because of the circumstances when Daniel died, there’s really only a very short list of people who could have been involved. Because of that, when you find out what actually happened, it doesn’t feel particularly surprising—though there are some details that make it more interesting, for sure. I was perfectly satisfied with the mystery aspect of the book, but true sleuths might be disappointed with the lack of true twists.
If you’re a fan of YA contemporary romance and enjoy a mystery twist to your stories, I’d definitely pick this book up. I got very attached to these characters early on and flew through the book. I give it 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Lorie Langdon:
Lorie’s Fall Favorite Thing:
Lorie’s Fall Favorite Thing is Urban Outfitters. Not only does fall officially mean the reemergence of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but it also means that it is socially acceptable to wear sweaters, scarves and beanies again (woo!).