Title: The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4)Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: NA | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Tour Hosted by: As the Pages Turn
Purchase links: Amazon + Amazon UK + B&N + Kobo + iTunes
The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.
For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.
Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.
Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.
I held her a little closer as we danced. The band had no vocalist, but I could hear Louis Armstrong’s voice in my head. Give me… a kiss to build a dream on. “I’ve always loved this song,” I confessed.
“Wait, really?” Bella stood up taller so she could look me in the eye. “Have you listened to the lyrics? The guy gets a single kiss, and he basically says that it’s enough — he’s just going to fantasize about it for the rest of his life. I mean… what a rip.”
I bit back a smile. “It’s romantic.”
“It’s unsatisfying,” she countered. “Here, I’ll show you.” Before I knew what was happening, Bella came closer. Her silky thumb stroked once across my cheekbone. Then she stood up on her toes and kissed me.
The first press of her sweet lips against mine stopped my breathing. Though you couldn’t have paid me to resist her. Sheer instinct made me lean into that kiss with my entire being.
Bella’s mouth melted onto mine, and a needy little sound issued from the back of her throat. Heaven. I deepened the kiss, and our tongues touched once. She tasted of red wine and desire. An electric pulse traveled the length of my body. Unbidden, my hands pulled her closer, my fingers in her hair…
The sound of applause brought me back to earth with a thunk. The song had ended, and the band segued into some kind of swing tune. Bella and I broke apart on a gasp. For a second we just stared at each other. “See?” she said eventually.
But I didn’t have the faintest recollection of the point she’d been trying to make. “What?”
Amusement tickled her features. “Never mind. I hear my wine glass calling me.” She tugged on my hand.
Books in the Ivy Years Series
About Sarina Bowen
Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont’s Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.) Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.
Website + Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Instagram + Tumblr + Goodreads
The giveaway is open internationally and ends 05/03/2015.
(1) An Ivy Years Notebook (It’s super cute)
(1) eBook box set of Ivy Years #1-3
(1) Signed paperback of The Year We Fell Down
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Ivy Years is hands down my favourite NA series at the moment. I loved all the books so far but the first one, The Year We Fell Down stands on its own for me.
Book 4, the Shameless hour, tells the story of Bella who is the student manager of the hockey team whose players have been the main characters in the previous books. She had a very central role in The Understatement of the Year, which I'd recommend to be read before you start with The Shameless Hour.
Bella is an intriguing heroine - open and easy going, loves sex and is not ashamed of it. I have to admit that sometimes I can't quite connect with characters who go for no-string sex and avoid relationships at all cost. My own very romantic and monogamous heart earns for true-love relationships but I also like to read about the journey from just hook-ups to real intimacy and Bella's journey along that road was not an easy one.
While Bella was strong, independent and very much liberated, Raffe was her opposite in many respects. He was confident and certain in his beliefs but he was also quiet, a bit introverted, and most importantly a 20-year old virgin in college. I loved everything about him, really.
After the initial hook-up between him and Bella, they for most the story they are just friends. He came into her life at a terrible time for her and acted as the pillar of strength she had never thought she'd need. We see Bella as any other college girl, somewhat vulnerable, despite her bravado, she had her own insecurities and old-time hurts. The abuse she suffers throws her completely off her game and it takes Raffe's strong and loyal support and ultimately his love for her to help Bella get back to her old self.
The story explores the intricacies of shame, the lack of inhibitions and restraints and the consequences of it. I really liked the intense dynamics family/friends/lovers dynamics Ms Bowen so successfully examines in this book. Both Raffe and Bella have complicated relationship with their families, for different reasons.
This college romance digs deep into some very serious issues affecting young people - harassment, physical and verbal abuse, slut shaming and how they affect everyone involved. Bella lost her confidence, came to question herself and her choices. slut shaming but ultimately, she got her revenge. Raffe had no major conflict to deal with but he won me over with his acceptance of Bella for who she is and with his loyal support and care for her when she was at her lowest.
The story also deals with the issue of STD which is not very often covered in NA romance. This sensitive subject was treated with respect and no judgement which I very much appreciate.
I only had two minor issues - Bella's family sudden change of heart and acceptance didn't fit well in the story for me, and also I was annoyed by the fact that Bella never got the discuss her STD with Raffe. I feel it was an important issue initially, well-developed and examined, but then kind of got forgotten.
I also like to congratulate Ms Bowen for writing a truly diverse story - there were characters with different ethnic and social background, queer characters and the story created a sense of inclusion. i loved the fact that this diversity was not presented as an/the issues in this book, it was treated as a fact of of life and people were ok with each other.