Feeling off balance when reading is never comfortable for me. That’s the best way to describe how I feel when I read the second book in a series. While this feeling usually goes away after a few pages, in some cases it lasts for the whole book. That’s the best way for me to describe how I felt reading My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron. Add to this one of the most disappointing “reveals” of my recent reading life, and you have a recipe for an unhappy reader.
Joscelyn (Jos) Archer was the perfect good girl. She was a preppy, happy student going through all of the usual college experiences with aplomb. When a tragic event occurs, it upends her life and changes her from a good girl to a lost one. When her parents are unable to deal with her new attitude, they send Jos to her sister Renee. Renee lives in a large house with several other students (including the couple from the first book in this series). Renee lays down the law and makes sure that Jos is going to school, heeding a curfew, and staying out of trouble.
Unbeknownst to Jos, Renee has enlisted Dusty, a musician and friend of Renee’s, to keep an eye on her and make sure that she stays on the right path. Dusty is appealing to Jos and soon, the two have developed a not-quite-platonic but not-quite-committed relationship.
Because of the aforementioned tragic event, Jos is unwilling to make a commitment to Dusty (who coincidentally has a tragic event in his recent past. However, instead of making Dusty less responsible, it has actually caused him to straighten up his life). Enter 200 pages of Will They? Or Won’t They?
When the tragic event is revealed, it is discovered the SAME TRAGIC EVENT devastated both Jos and Dusty! And this event was the biggest letdown in my recent memory. Both Jos and Dusty fought back and forth with self-loathing (“It was my fault, Dusty.” “No, it was my fault, Jos.”) So, I was thinking, “Dear Lord, did they accidentally drown someone? Cause a person to lose his college career? What? What was it?!!!?) When the big reveal came, I was furious. There is no way that either of these characters should have blamed themselves in the least for the “tragic event”. Seriously, it was asinine. (The equivalent of me throwing gum on the sidewalk, you stepping in it, walking into the street, and getting hit by a car. And then I spend a year of my life thinking about how awful it is that I killed you.) It was the most ridiculous angst producing literary ending I have read in a long time.
Couple that horrible ending with the sense that I was missing something (I guess what I was missing was the set-up of the characters from the first book), and you have a bad reading experience. While I am certain that this book was meant to be able to read as a stand-alone, it never felt that way. I suppose that I can take the blame for this part—if I had read the first one, maybe the book would have felt more comfortable. But there is no way that I am taking any blame for that horrible ending.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Regina