Series: Adamson All-Boys Academy, Book 1
Genres: Reverse Harem, Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Dark, Bullying Romance (sub genre)
Publication date: August 11, 2019
Charlotte finally knows the secret that the student council has known all along: Jenica Woodruff, the only girl to attend the academy before Charlotte, didn’t commit suicide. She was murdered. And it was covered up. Now someone is after Charlotte and no matter where she goes, the killer follows. While not an official member of the student council, Charlotte has been taken under their wing after everything they’ve been through together.
It feels selfish of me to be so sad over Spencer when he was their friend first, their friend for longer. If you think about it, I barely knew the guy.
But there was something there.
There could have been something great there.Chapter One
Regardless of Charlotte’s sentiment above, everyone deserves a chance to mourn. You might not have known someone long, but any relationship at all is enough time to know someone long enough to mourn them. Also, I love the way that Charlotte mourns the aforementioned friend – through texting him her feelings for him, to let him know that even though they might not have known each other long, there was something there. Their friendship meant something to her and even though she wasn’t sure he would ever hear her words, she wanted to make sure that he knew it.
Picking up almost exactly where The Secret Girl left off, this story gave me everything the first book did – minus the slow start. I’m glad that the bullying is pretty much done at this point in the story – from the student council at least. While I know that this tale is marketed as a bullying romance, I’ll admit that’s not a trope I generally enjoy. Like Charlotte herself, it’s the reverse harem aspect of this story that drew me in.
This story is filled with bate and switches that, while predictable, are enjoyable to read. The mystery itself is able to capture my attention and make me wanting more. Thankfully the budding romances in this tale are not the only focus of the story. Jenica might be dead, but her story is far from over.
Hope is the thing with feathers, right? It gives you wings, and I really, really could use some wings right now.Chapter Two
I have to be honest, Charlotte’s dad is a bit of a dick. I understand that he takes his job as headmaster seriously, but all he had to do is tell Charlotte that her friend isn’t dead. He didn’t have to say who the dead kid in the forest was in order to reassure his daughter that her friend was okay. Then we have him ignoring Charlotte’s wishes to stay when he sends her back to California. Even after she gets attacked there and it’s clearly not the safe space he was hoping it would be, he still doesn’t let her come back.
Of course Charlotte was excited when she realized that the dead boy could be Eugene Mathers instead of Spencer. Wouldn’t you be excited to find out that there was a chance your loved one wasn’t dead? Of course I wouldn’t wish death on anyone else to save someone I care about, but if the chance is there why not hold onto it? The fact that she ended up being correct about it just makes it that much better.
Side note: I love when an author breaks the fourth wall in a funny way – even if they don’t fully break it, just stretch it a little thin. Stunich does this by bringing up the idea of this being Charlotte’s “real life” and not a book with a cliffhanger where the teaser would be resolved in due time. As the reader we know that it’s exactly that, but Charlotte – being in the world herself – doesn’t.
To know that the twins just found out that though she’d been in a long term relationship and was still a virgin the night that Ranger let Charlotte sleep in Spencer’s bed and he came back was a great turn of events. While it was clearly going that route – Spencer being the first one she’d sleep with, I mean – it was a great way to emphasize it. The twins telling Spencer her “secret” before she could talk to them – the twins or Spencer – further emphasized the developing relationships between Charlotte and the boys.
While he was mad at her for lying to him for so long, it was cute that Spencer asked Charlotte to be his girlfriend basically right away. Then, the twins – and the rest of the Student Council – have a paintball fight with Spencer over the right to be with Charlotte as well. Tobias ends up winning, and the twins are magically joining Spencer is a “temporary” reverse harem until Charlotte decides who she wants to be with – just like her preferred romance novels.
Even after Charlotte is forced back to California, they’re there for her. They talk to her all the time and are waiting for her after school on the last day before summer break. To surprise her with a trip to Disneyland! Yeah, they’ve definitely changed their tune about the annoying boy they met at the start of the school year.
Church finally starts opening up to Charlotte, something she never thought would happen. He admits to her that he was adopted and that his five sisters aren’t actually his blood relations. Heck, he even went as far as to propose to Charlotte in order to get her back to Adamson. Her father might not want her to come back for fear of her losing her life, but there’s not much that can stop the Montagues when they set their minds to something.
As much as I enjoy the budding relationships between Charlotte and the boys, it’s the mystery of the story that kept me coming back for more. Like the decapitated pigeon and ceremonial markings the crew stumbled across when they left Eugene’s memorial.
Mark wasn’t even the tiniest bit sad that his “best friend” was dead. I don’t care if it’s murder, suicide, an accident, or natural causes – you’d be upset if your best friend died. The hole in his dorm room that was mysteriously matched just furthers the evidence that he’s involved with whatever is going on at Adamson.
Then we have Mr. Murphy. He was friends with Jenica when they were both in school and he posses a purple sharpie like the “Adam” notes that were trying to scare off Charlotte. (Which is basically confirmed when she catches him leaving a note on her door at the hot springs.) He and Mr. Dave clearly know Charlotte’s secret even though they shouldn’t know that she’s a girl.
The hooded attackers show up at Santa Cruz High, proving that they’re not going to give up on Charlotte even if she leaves the school. You know they’ve got to be rich kids if they’re able to fly across a country in order to hunt a person and make it back in time for tea.
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