Slashed (Extreme Risk #3) by Tracy Wolff
This is a great book for young adult readers who are ready to branch out into the world of adult romance novels.
If you love the twang of youth and the slang of an adventure sport, then this tale is for you. It is a ‘barge’-ing take on a group of early 20’s snowboarders on their off-season, enjoying life as only young people, without the worry of student-loans and mortgages, can do. The insanely attractive guys and girls are mostly paired off, except for best friends Cam and Luc, and everyone is having fun boarding behind a speedboat on the lake.
Tracy Wolff immediately ups the tension and heat with the revelation that Cam and Luc had slept together one drunken night a few weeks ago, and at Cam’s urging no less, whereupon she woke up in Luc’s bed the next morning and bugged out. Needless to say, it’s been icy ever since as we find out, because Luc is hopelessly in love with Cam. Cam, meanwhile, just wants her buddy back, though she does start to notice every now and then how muscled his back is looking and….sorry, she does get a bit sidetracked by his body, though she can’t seem to fit the puzzle together that she wants to jump his bones just yet.
This is where we skirt the line between grown-up romances and teen love stories. Adult romances seem to seize upon the sexual attraction and build from there. This one starts from puppy love and kind of flounders for just a little bit. Luc is stuck in this moony-goony phase on Cam. Her elbows, her hair, her freckles, the way she hands him an orange pop - all of it makes him love her more. As the book plays out, we find out that it isn’t really a phase for Luc - he really has loved her since they were about four years old and met at school. They’ve been best friends ever since.
Classically, Cam is oblivious to Luc’s feelings for her - even when she agreed to let him practice kissing her to prepare for a date with another girl while in highschool (uh - duuuuh?). Even when she is being a douchebag, as she was after sleeping with him, he still tries to hide his dreamy eyes from her and preserve his self-esteem in some way, shape or form before he dies of love-sickness for her. In a way it was kind of nice to read this type of studied devotion a man/child can have for a woman/child, but then I started to feel a little like I was back in highschool, sighing heavily and giggling because of what the cute guy who sat in front of me in Chemistry wrote on my binder...but I digress. Sweetness and devotion is a lovely thing, and Tracy Wolff captures those sentiments very effectively.
The turning point comes when Cam, fleeing her newly returned mother (who had gone awol 17 years before, leaving seven children and her husband for who knows why) asks Luc if she can stay at his place for a while. Needless to say hot sex immediately ensues and keeps ensuing. We’re not quite sure what’s transpiring and each of them keeps mum for their own scaredy-cat reasons. Cam flashes on the self-doubts all women seem to have when they get fully naked in front of their lovers - and being an athlete is no exception to that sensitivity. Cam wonders if she is too muscular, too small breasted, too ‘something’ that would cause him to be turned off.
What most women don’t know is that a warm and willing female is more important to any man than a little bump or pucker here or there. Now think about how much Luc loves her and she could be wearing granny panties for all he would care - just as long as he got to taste her and touch her - but her inexperience doesn’t allow for this confidence yet. Luc is the more experienced of the two and this shows in the sex they have. Cam is somewhat surprised (in a great way) and shocked at just how intimately Luc wants to taste her.
The sex continues for a few more adult days before crumbling in a bunch of teenaged fits of jealousy and Scooby-Doo worthy misunderstandings. Before you know it, Luc and Cam have had a couple of fights, which seem common enough for any couple trying to establish a relationship, yet somehow it spells the end for them being together. This section happened sort of quickly and I was a bit confused as to why it had to end between them just as they were beginning to open up about what they needed and felt for each other.
Fast forward three months later, and we find out Cam is pregnant by Luc. Cam didn’t pay close enough attention when the doctor explained how ‘low-dose’ birth control pills really worked - a bit of an afterschool special kind of interlude. Now her potential championship year is thrown off balance until Cam can figure out what to do about the pregnancy. This is very much teen territory again in the way Cam hunkers down and takes to her bed crying. It takes a pep talk from her agent to reassure her that things will be alright and for her to start making some plans for the future.
Shockingly, there is actually a lot of talk about abortion as being one of the options that Cam can use to deal with her accidental pregnancy. And I say ‘shockingly’ in a good way. This book takes place in a conservative state of the U.S. where access to abortion is limited, which is made clear in the book. Once Luc is made aware of the pregnancy, he puts aside his want of the child in order to recognize that it will be Cam’s decision whether to keep the baby after all - a nice nod to women’s rights and the freedom to choose.
In the end, though, love triumphs after all...kinda like we knew it would. These twenty somethings decide to have the baby and to make it as a couple who really do love each other. It’s a total cliche of an ending, but sometimes that is what teenagers who are becoming grown-ups do - they take the road more travelled, and give us a good story to enjoy along the way.
This book rates a 3.75 out of 5 stars.