Thursday, June 13, 2013

REVIEW: "After Math" by Denise Grover Swank

After Math
After Math by Denise Grover Swank
(Off the Subject #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon 
Author Website

For Ages 17+
New Adult -- Contemporary
Self-Published -- March 12, 2013
Ebook, 250 pages
Purchased from Amazon

Family Issues, Opposites Attract

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him.Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?

I'm late.  I stand outside the doorway of my Western Civ class, caught in a dilemma.

I should probably start this review by stating that I'm still trying to figure out what I think about the "new adult" genre.  On one hand, I applaud these (mostly self-published) authors for essentially creating a new category of literature, but I also find myself getting a little weary of what I am coming to see are the standards of "new adult" like the quirky heroine, the super popular hero, and the deep dark secret that is ultimately keeping them apart.  That being said, while After Math, did meet all those archetypes, I still really enjoyed reading this book.

The book is told from the point of view of Scarlett Goodwin who is a math major at a small Tennessee university.  The most significant thing about Scarlett's character is her social anxiety which forces her to freeze up in situations where attention shifts to her.  As someone who still struggles with this issue, I really applaud Denise Grover Swank for utilizing it pretty well.  I also loved the fact that Scarlett really loved math and had a set goal in mind for her future that was pretty cool-sounding.

The hero of After Math is Tucker Price, star player for the university's soccer team, who hides his dark past with a pretty convincing party boy persona.  Tucker seemed to fit the mold of the standard New Adult hero with his good looks and over-the-top personality, but I still liked him.  He was a sweet guy beneath all the arrogance and partying who really cared about Scarlett as a friend and as more.  Some of my favorite scenes with him were the ones where he was explaining the proper techniques to work out and how much of his character was showcased in those lines. 

As a couple, Tucker and Scarlett were very cute and easy to root for.  They connected almost immediately and took the time to understand one another before jumping into a relationship.  The tutoring sessions were really well-written because of the difference from the first one to the last one in their interactions.  There were some melodramatic moments (especially at the end), but I was still pleased with the fact that they got their happily ever after.

Like many other books in this genre, there were a lot of side characters in After Math.  My personal favorite was Caroline (Scarlett's fashion major roommate with an obsession for Gossip Girl) who will be featured in the next book in the series.  Most of the other secondary characters were there to serve a role in the overall storyline like unworthy guy, overprotective sibling, and helpful professor, but were developed enough to go beyond the stereotypes.

The main issues I had with this book came about in the end.  I felt like Scarlett got too whiny and mopey about her relationship with Tucker for my personal taste though I was pleased to see her stand up for herself pretty well at a key juncture.  I felt like Tucker's "secret" was bad, but it almost felt anti-climatic especially after he spent so much energy hiding it from Scarlett that I was getting frustrated along with her.  Also, I felt like the entire ending was rushed.  The pacing of the first half was really well done with all the tutoring sessions, parties, and cute get-togethers.  But, then the plot took a sharp left turn and I had a hard time keeping up with everything that was happening.

But, overall, I thought After Math was an enjoyable read and I recommend it for fans of New Adult romances.  While I did have problems with some of the writing, I was impressed with Denise Grover Swank's style and I am looking forward to reading the sequel in the future.

3.5 STARS -- Good read, but nothing super special about it. Will probably not re-read it.

Goodbye is too permanent. Goodbye has the risk of never seeing each other again. But good morning is full of possibilities.

1. After Math
2. Redesigned
3. Business As Usual 

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