*****5 ‘Love & Longing’ STARS*****

20 – 15 = 5.  Such a small number relatively speaking.  How large is that number in regards to love and how do you measure it against it?  Can you?  Twenty and fifteen.  A twenty year old teacher and a fifteen year old student.  Five years apart.  How do you measure love…by numbers?

“In that moment, she was my everything.”

I went into Blurry biased.  Although I hadn’t read anything by Carina Adams I’d heard about Forever Red (Bama Boys #1) and knew a little bit about Craig (H) and Lia (h).  You see, I’m a bit of a stickler with romance and the ‘Happily Ever After’ department.  I’ll read a tear-jerker every now and again, but I’m in it for the fantasy, the love prevailing, the well…. ‘not real life’ if I’m honest.  I’m fine with most taboos; I want to escape reality.  Stay with me here, I have a point…once I flipped the page in my kindle, because even though I was disappointed when I realized this was Craig and Lia’s story, and even though I realized this would be a different kind of taboo student/teacher story with less fantasy and more reality, and even though I knew Craig wasn’t for Lia and Lia wasn’t for Craig…I. Couldn’t. Stop. Myself.  I ached for them, their love story, and what I knew wasn’t to be.  I also laughed and cried and was infuriated at times.  Blurry is more than a coming of age tale.  More than a taboo student/teacher narrative.  It’s an echo of lost innocence, of hopeful rationalizations, of love found…and lost.  Told through the lens of ‘wrong’ but making me feel it couldn’t ever be anything but ‘right’.

“The naïve girl who had believed the fairy tale she always made fun of.”

When we meet Lia she’s a sophomore in high school.  She’s coming from the trashy trailer park in her small town complete with a neglectful mother and absent father.  Full of piss and vinegar she’s got attitude to spare – she’s got her life and the world all figured out.  She doesn’t need anyone except her two BFF’s.  At least that’s what she tells herself.  Admitting that you’re lonely, that you’d like more, would be a crack in the carefully welded armor you designed to keep others out.  She’s got a chip on her shoulder (really, what teenager doesn’t) and a plan to get out of dodge upon graduation and show everyone she’s worthy – and better than them.  As I learned her life through pieces and chapters something happened.  I started relating to this blunt, acidic, mature-beyond-her-years broken teen.  There’s more here than typical teenage angst (although there’s a bit of that too) and crushing on the handsome new teacher/coach.

  “I was going to do what I could to help that lost girl find her way.”

Craig Knightly’s senior year in college is going to be spent teaching and coaching high school.  Seeing a kindred spirit in Lia he’s intrigued.  Knowing the value of a positive mentor his intentions are golden, until they start to become tarnished little by little, rule by broken rule in the friendship he’s determined to form with Lia.  It all starts out innocent until they make, and break, the rules they defined their friendship by.  Telling himself he can make it work – that they can make it work – Craig uses every opportunity to can to spend time with Lia.  Falling in love with his student was never part of the plan, but now that the lines are blurred it’s impossible to go back – and he doesn’t want to.  It’s only a matter of time…

   “ ‘Sometimes I forget, too,’ he whispered. ‘And sometimes, I wish things were different.’ ”

I didn’t struggle with Craig and Lia’s relationship.  That’s one of the things that stood out for me, Ms. Adams’ ability to weave and stitch you into this love story making you root for this couple; for their victory.  It wasn’t tawdry or ugly; I certainly didn’t think it was dark.  It was beautiful even when it was painful – and for me – it was painful, knowing I possibly wouldn’t get the closure I needed.  Lia’s grown up fast with a level of adult maturity sprinkled with a bit of riotous adolescence that makes it hard for Craig to remember she’s still just a kid trying to find her way.  Even when I saw the peeks of immaturity from Lia it added to the relatability of the story – if I hadn’t seen those normal knee-jerk reactions of teenage know-it-all syndrome I wouldn’t have bought into her story…no teenager has all their $h!t together no matter how fast they’ve had to mature.  Add in Craig’s love and palpable longing mixed with his ability to do the right thing for his girl not matter the cost (and it does cost Craig mightily in ways you don’t expect) and it’s a recipe for heartbreak.  I was waiting for the inevitable crash…and burn.

“Label didn’t work for us.  There was no box we fit into.”

While Blurry isn’t your average normal love story – it IS a love story.  Both beautiful and hard to take, painful and tender.  Reading a taboo romance with an expiration date should’ve made me indifferent at the very least.  Or perhaps outraged.  It didn’t.  I don’t know that Ms. Adams could have written a better story – other than a future for Craig and Lia.  Even that might have damaged the beauty that is their past.  I’m left in an acceptable, if not good, place.  And waiting, ever so nervously, for Craig’s turn.  I’ll absolutely be back for more.

Bravo Ms. Adams, Bravo.  Blurry is definitely one of my Top 2017 reads.

            “The line was clear.  Who we were and who we could never be.  A straight, black, thick line.  Somewhere along the way, our line had gotten blurry.”


K’s Category: 1st date, first novel read by author to date.

Trigger Warning: Yes, underage sexual activity with a legal adult.

Characters: M/F

OM/OW: Yes

Sex: Yes, descriptive

HEA: HFN with assumption of more to come.

Standalone: Yes, this is a prequel to the Bama Boys Series; I read it on its own with no issues.