“Love comes in all kinds of packages. Some are neatly tied up, and some are messy. It doesn’t mean that the messy ones aren’t every bit as good.”
Good was a well-written, rebellious romance that defied rules and crossed lines.
Bold. Daring. Forbidden.
The dedication at the beginning set the tone for the whole story:
To lovers who fought the odds. And won.
To give a little bit of background, Good is a New Adult student/teacher romance but there is nothing sugar-coated about it. I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to explore such a controversial, unconventional topic. The taboo screamed loud and clear and despite the fact that the relationship was legally acceptable in their state, it’s up to every reader to decide if they can morally justify it because the facts are this: the heroine in a 17 year old student and the hero is her 28 year old math teacher. Plain and simple. They were attracted to each other, they fell in love and they acted on their feelings. Now add to the mix the fact that the heroine is a Christian from a church going, Bible thumping family and you have the recipe for a story that will leave no feather unruffled. And…. I loved it!
Here’s the blurb:
Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. And most importantly, anonymity. Everyone knows about her mistake, and the kids at school like to remind her with hate notes in her locker, pranks, name-calling—the works.
But there is one bright spot in the hell that’s become her life: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
This book had guts. Balls. It pushed every boundary. I won’t lie though – some scenes did make me squirm. The situation was anything but ‘comfortable’ but I couldn’t put it down. It was dangerous and thrilling.
“He’s cute. Very cute. And very smart. And very manly…. And very off-limits.”
“Those are always the best love stories,” Fanny replied.
She sipped her tea. “The dangerous ones.”
The prologue starts off with a bang. Right from the start, I was drawn into the severity and scariness of their situation. And, I wanted to know more!
I really love S. Walden’s writing. Her character building is fantastic! Within a few pages, she managed to make me fall for the hero and be drawn right into the heroine’s story.
Cadence was a really interesting character. She was vulnerable on the inside but tried her best to wear a tough exterior. I really liked her. She was sheltered but not stupid. Innocent but not overly naive. And she was fighting an entire life’s worth of doctrines and beliefs while trying to find her own place in the world.
I was outraged on her behalf for the way she was treated at home. Downright furious!!! How could her parents be so close-minded?? Utterly blind! Every time that I wanted to cheer her on for standing up for herself, they found a way to cut her down. It wasn’t outright cruelty, but sometimes you don’t need fists to hurt.
“I worked for an entire month since my release from juvie to get back into my parents’ good graves… The irony was that I didn’t need to show either of them I’d chanced because I hadn’t. I’d always been a good girl, even when I made that mistake. Yes, it was a really terrible mistake… but it didn’t alter who I was. I didn’t suddenly overnight become a drug addict or a career criminal. I made one bad choice that branded me for life, at least in my parent’s eyes.”
I felt terrible for her. I mean, who doesn’t make mistakes when they’re a teen? It’s supposed to be the time of screw ups. Granted, hers were more serious than most and while her parents’ initial reaction might have been understandable, at some point, you have to be able to forgive and allow room to rebuild trust, no?
“I was tired of hearing the word “no”. I heard it every day… I couldn’t breathe for the “no’s” piling on top of me, pressing on my heart, smothering my brain, making it impossible to think positive thoughts.”
But because of the way the story was written, it made you initially feel one thing but then the more you thought about the different perspectives, the more multi-layered the story began to get. I mean, even with her parents… I could “get” where they were coming from the more I thought about it even though I hated the stance they took. But I think that’s the point – people are rarely “good” or “evil”. We’re all comprised of multiple sides.
But lets get to the romance…
It was hot, forbidden and thrilling. But I love taboo books because you just never know what you’re “supposed” to feel. Y’know? Should you root for them? *cringes* I really wanted to. Heck, I did. Did it feel wrong? Sure. Absolutely. Did it stop me from feeling that way? Nope. It was like my brain and my heart were at war and it was a constant battle to see which one could come out on top.
I’m not going to lie though – as much as I loved the forbidden romance aspect, I won’t deny that the fact that a 28 year old was actively pursuing a 17 year did at least partially rub me the wrong way. Honestly, there were times when I wasn’t sure… wasn’t what he was doing wrong? Shouldn’t an older person know better? What a fine line there is between the fantasy of love and the reality of it.
He was so direct. No beating around the bush. But at the same time, he never pushed her. He just didn’t hide his feelings from her. Gah!! the conflict! And darn him but he was swoony! I have to give him that. Sweet and swoony. He never once pushed her into anything but, at the same time, he didn’t hold back either.
“I wasn’t a complete idiot. I knew this was all wrong, and I knew I had to confront the possibility that Mr. Connelly was a bad man. A user. An exploiter. So why didn’t I believe any of it?”
There were definitely times though when he crossed the line and was unquestionably wrong. But I guess that made him human. I mean, who is perfect? And the way he apologized for his mistakes gave me a deeper respect for him. It’s hard not to respect someone who fully admits their faults.
Another thing I found interesting was that there was never a time when you got so lost in the story that you forgot Cadence’s age or Mark’s job. The taboo always loud and clear. It felt dangerous and forbidden.
“Do you really think it’s wrong that we’re together?… Or do you think it’s wrong because that’s what you’ve been taught?”
See, it’s a weird thing with student/teacher books because it’s like… Would I want that kind of relationship? No. Would I want it for my daughter? No. But at the same time, sometimes things don’t work out in an ‘ideal’ way and you can’t always help who you fall for. I guess the choice then is whether you act on it or not. But, if you don’t at least try, you might miss out on something incredible. So, it’s hard for me to judge it. And I have to take into consideration how much of my discomfort came from my societal norms and from what I’ve been taught my whole life. In another country, on a different planet, maybe this wouldn’t be taboo. They weren’t hurting anyone, they were both consenting, so… who am I to judge?
Every single thing in this book made sense. Everything was a reaction to something. I loved that there was no fluff and that everything that happened had a purpose and was somehow tied into either the overall plot or a character’s development. It was a well crafted story that made me stop and think.
I loved that this story made me uncomfortable in places, I loved that the questions that it raised, I loved the thrill of the taboo, and I loved the way the whole story came together. It was fast paced, attention grabbing and I honestly didn’t want to put it down.
Good is the first of a 2-part series so everything wasn’t tied up neatly with a bow at the end. There was absolutely no relationship cliffhanger but there was an external one. While their relationship wasn’t in doubt, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions and there is a lot to explore in the next book. That being said, it didn’t leave me biting my nails. Sure, ideally, I’d have loved to have the sequel ready to go but I’m okay waiting here. And I will certainly be reading the sequel the day it gets released.
S. Walden really did a fantastic job with this book. It was bold, daring, and dangerous. This is the kind of taboo you want to read.
I also want to share this note from the author because it was a part of what made me want to read the book:
Yeah, so I realize I’m taking a chance with this one (as I do with all my books, it seems). I know many of the student/teacher relationship books out there involve professors and college students to make them a little more accepting. Yeah. I really don’t do “accepting.” Plus, the story spoke to me. It wanted to be written. Cadence needed to be written. Not only am I taking a chance with the stark age difference between heroine and hero, but I’m also taking a chance infusing spirituality in this book. It’s not enough that Cadence would embark on a completely inappropriate relationship with her teacher, but I wanted to make sure she was a Christian as well. So there you go. Start ruffling those feathers. She’s a Christian. She’s involved with a 28-year-old while she’s still a minor. She’s impressionable but not disgustingly naïve. It’s very much a love story that explores personal values, societal expectations, and the meaning of true love.
I do have to share this because I thought it was funny. My agent asked me, “Summer, now they don’t do it until she turns eighteen, right?”
“Well, I looked up the age of consent in Georgia. It’s sixteen,” I replied.
“Summer, they don’t do it until she’s eighteen, right?”
“Oh, Marisa. Don’t you want to wait and find out?”
If you want to try another of S.Walden’s books, here are the links to Going Under. This is a standalone romance that really did a number on me. It was a gutsy, controversial story that was painful at times but also, raw, honest, and in the end, beautiful.
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Waw, if it’s as good as Going Under (which is in my top list of books this year), and I’m sure it is after reading your review, I can ‘t wait to read this book !
It’s totally different than GU but soo good! Same strong writing style though 🙂
Lori L. Clark says
I’m reading this one right now. I loved “Going Under,” so I jumped at the chance to read this one. I just finished “Unteachable” by Leah Raeder — another student/teacher relationship. (Loved it.)
Thank you, Lori! I loved Unteachable too 🙂
Book Wookie says
The only part that I didn’t totally get was why Mark wanted Cadence in the first place. I really had difficulty believing that part and I really yammered on about it in my own review. 😛
I LOVED this book. But I was wondering if anyone else was bothered by the pace that Mark fell for Cadence. I can see a young girl falling that fast but thought that a 28 year old guy that is not supposed to like his students would have fought his feelings longer than Mark did. It was unrealistically too fast, I felt.
Michelle S says
Damn! Gah! Butterfly!! This is what I get for not rereading your review before I decide to read one of the many books I have bought lately (your fault) & forgot that it is NOT a stand alone!! You are right, it isn’t a relationship cliffie, which is great but it does leave the story at a WHAT moment. And I was blind to it. I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t see I was at 100%. The last I checked it was 80 and I swear only 10 min went by. And when it said end of part one, I yelled loudly in my very quiet house “what the…NNNOOOOO!” Then I was mad at you, then the author, then myself…and back again. But honestly, I am glad it isn’t done. I want more, I don’t want this rushed. I am anxiously awaiting the release of part 2 & will happily recommend this to the masses. I loved it& it made me uncomfortable. I kept saying “oh they love each other” followed by a but…isn’t it wrong. But in the end, I am still rooting for them. It is a beautiful, uncomfortable, & not perfect love story…the best kind! Also I would love an Avery story! One last note, perfect pictures of both, especially Mark!
LOL!!! “Butterfly” <-- love it! So glad you loved the book and the casting. I agree - I'm glad that the author didn't rush this and put into two books. And as desperate as I am for the next book, at least I feel like I'm okay at the point where they're at. Can't wait for the next one though!