“Tell me a secret.”
“I love you.”
Woah. What a crazzzzzy ride!!
This was a complete “rule-breaker” book for me in nearly every way and yet I found myself addicted and unable to put it down. I read it in one sitting and finished it at 4AM and with my mind spinning and my heart hurting so I’m going to try and write all my thoughts out here and process everything.
This is a story of first love. A desperate, all-consuming love kept secret by necessity, and complicated by unhealthy addictions and heart-breaking betrayals. It’s not your typical romance by any stretch.
Please note: this book has cheating, drug addictions, and an unresolved ending. I know each of those are trigger points for a lot of you (the cheating especially was for me, in a big way) but this book has a massive fan base and a lot of readers love it so I was too curious. I just had to give it a try…
“She’s the only thing worth anything in my life.”
Bliss and Dusty met in grade school — she was the new girl starting Grade 5, he was the older, cooler sixth grader. The innocent girl met the delinquent trouble maker and so began their tumultuous relationship. The story takes place over approximately 4 years. She becomes best friends with Dusty’s little sister Becka and spends a lot of time at their house — each weekend, and every summer. We see her fall for him from afar. We see him fall for her. But everything between them remains a secret and no one ever knows.
I’ve read a lot of dysfunctional relationship stories because I just kind of love them but this one I think is the ultimate winner. Their situation was all kinds of fucked up…. and yet I was strangely addicted.
“This is our thing. Our secret… I’ve managed to bury better judgement and put aside warnings about boys, alcohol, drugs, and bad choices.”
See in his own messed up way, Dusty loved her but he knew he shouldn’t. She was his little sister’s best friend. So he stayed away. He smoked, drank, fooled around with girls. The only things between them were these secret, stolen, unlabelled moment where she was Bliss and he was Dusty and they just were.
“I can’t stop thinking about what’s going on between [us]. We haven’t talked about why we keep what we do a secret, but the reasons don’t need to be spoken out loud.”
I’m being asked a lot about the cheating issue so I’m going to just lay the situation out here. Yes, there is cheating. A whole helluva lot of it. But if you want to argue technicalities, Dusty and Bliss were never (ever) an official couple, so “technically” it was never “official” cheating. But it is. OMG. It totally is. They had their secret love and no one knew about them but them, but they really both loved each other. Like really loved each other. But the one thing that Dusty was more addicted to than Bliss was drugs. He was high 90% of the time and slept around openly — especially with one girl in particular (even though he wasn’t dating her or anything). He did drugs all the time (he started with weed but graduated to hard drugs over the years), had sex with half the high school, and partied non-stop. In public, he and Bliss acted like they didn’t mean anything to each other. But he totally loved her. And she totally loved him. She knew what he was doing and he knew that she knew but he still did it and she never stopped him. She just loved him — for exactly who he was, as he was. It was fucking heart breaking and so totally messed up.
“Because I love you, nobody else will ever touch me. Even though you are constantly touched.
Gah. Tell me that line doesn’t just hurt???
“We’re attached in ways I can’t comprehend. While everyone else expects me to fuck up … she just loves me. And I’m reckless enough to let her.
She’s my softer side, and I’m her motherfucking monster.”
Complicated relationships, damaged characters, and hopeless situations are some of the ones I love most to read about but I’m not going to lie that this one really pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone. I was, and still am, really torn about how I feel about the whole situation. I’ve gone back and forth between loving and hating this story. I loved their love for each other but I also hated what he kept doing to them.
“I’ve been taught that relationships are supposed to be built from trust, but we’re a walking untruth — solely made from love.”
My heart hurt so much for Bliss hearing all the time about him being with other girls, seeing him be with other girls right in front of her but knowing she was the one who had his heart. I couldn’t tell if I was mad at her for letting him do that or if I admired that she was strong enough to love him through his addiction. He was hypocritical, unstable, unfair, destructive, violent at times (though never towards her), and he made it nearly impossible to like him. He was a drug addict, a bit of an asshole, a total manwhore — he was every father’s nightmare — but he had such a good heart. He loved her so strongly and I was torn between wanting to junk punch him and wishing I could just help him somehow. I wanted to hate him for what he was doing to her but that was impossible. I just couldn’t hate him.
“You’re my safe spot. You have my heart. There’s nothing else.”
But then this from Bliss… *sniff*
“Why them and not me?”
I questioned his love for her over and over again. If he really loved her, wouldn’t he do anything to be with her? Why would he continue to keep breaking her heart? Why would he continue to sleep around? In case you’re wondering though, we do get a bit of an explanation into why he is the way he is. He’s a product of his childhood and his experiences. Did it excuse the way he way? Hmm, well, that’s for you to decide… but it did explain it. I just wished with all my heart that he could find a way to overcome his issues.
“Our love is not perfect. We are fucked-up and bleeding, but neither one of us is powerful enough to walk away from it like we should.”
Please note that this is the first of a 2-part series and this book actually ends at a bit of a low point for them. I’d highly recommend re-reading the prologue after the ending though (technically, it takes place after the ending) because it’ll give you just the tiniest bit more closure than you get from the last page.
I’m a little frustrated by the ending though because I feel like there really wasn’t any significant change in Dusty’s character. I’m a little nervous because I don’t know how the next book is going to end so I’m feeling torn. See, I’m the kind of reader who is willing to go through pretty much any amount of emotional pain with the characters if the ending makes it worth it. But I feel like I needed a reason to have suffered through his endless screw ups. I loved Dusty but I hated his actions and I need a reason to believe that it was worth emotionally standing by him through it all in order for me to fully commit to loving this story. ‘Cuz otherwise, it’s just a story about someone who screws up their life until they lose it all. I need there to be a reason for the suffering and a light at the end of their tunnel.
I want to root for Dusty and Bliss. I want to believe that even a couple as messed up and dysfunctional as them can make it. I do believe that despite all the mistakes and addictions that they can make it work. And I’d like to believe (even just in my head) that they do beat the odds and genuinely make it work. But I honestly think I’m going to hold off on reading the second one until someone who has read it tells me exactly how it ends. Having gone through this much pain along their journey, I’m going to need to see a lot of healing and work done both alone and together by Dusty and Bliss to fix mistakes if I’m going to read it. Do I think Dusty actually deserves a second chance? Hell no. But I’m still totally willing to give it to him because I really, truly, strongly believe that the love they have for each other is real. And I want to see that love become the most important thing in Dusty’s life. I need to see that. I absolutely need it.
“Don’t you get it, baby?”
“What’s there to get?” she asks.
“That I love you.”
“Well, you have a shitty way of showing it.
I smirk. “That doesn’t make it any less true.”
A couple things… I liked the writing but felt like the book needed more editing. I also found the names a little confusing at times. Dusty’s real name was Thomas but his mom’s name was Tommy so every time I saw her name I thought of him. There were so many nicknames for each character that it took me a while to figure out who was who and to keep track of who was being talked about. The story also sporadically switched back and forth between Dusty and Bliss’ POV without any labelling. I found this confusing because the first time was quite late in the book (I believe Chapter 11-ish), so I wasn’t expecting it and I had to flip back and forth until I figured it out and then after that, I’d have to check each chapter because it would randomly switch. And, finally… I’ll admit that it felt a little weird reading the first part of the book with them being so young. Like, she was 13 and he’s 15 so even though there was nothing blatantly sexual that happened then, there were still times when I just felt a little awkward reading it.
This book will not be for everyone. There’s no doubt that I was addicted to the story but I think that whether or not I love it will ultimately depend on the content and ending of the next book. I feel like I can’t judge this alone because it’s only half a story and I don’t have a clear sense of what direction it’s headed in.
I can totally understand why some readers are madly in love with this, and I can also understand why some readers dislike it. I’ve seen every reaction from readers who can’t even finish it to readers who call this their most favorite book ever written. This story breaks all kinds of romance rules but if you can look past that, there’s a very raw and beautiful, but tragically dysfunctional love story at the heart of it. I want to believe that Dusty and Bliss can make it work. I want to believe they can beat the odds. I hope they can.
“Tell me a secret.”
“I love you.”
- Buy INNOCENTS: DUSTY#1 (Kindle)
- Buy DELINQUENTS: DUSTY #2 (Kindle)
Thank you for this review. It’s also a rulebreaker for me, cheating is so hard, but I think I’m going to give it a shot too.
You’re welcome! I’m glad you’re going to try it out. Happy reading 🙂
I’m starting tonight. Wish me luck:)
Ebony B says
Loved ur review! I read the fanfic version of this and I loved and hated it at the same time and the ending just killed me. Honestly, I dont know if I can put myself through that again. I’m hoping with part two we get that HEA that I’m desperatly craving for. Guess i’ll be waiting until you read part 2 before I submerge myself in this rollercoaster story again.
Thans, Ebony!! I’ve heard what the fanfic version ending was and also heard (thankfully) that they’re changing it so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for that HEA I desperately need for them. It’s not just that I blindly need it, it’s like I genuinely WANT to see them overcome this together. I think it would be beautiful. I hope that’s what’s in store for them <3
Maris Harman says
I read this on Fan Fiction a year ago & fell in love with this story !!!!!!!
It was so real & raw god I just wanted Dusty to get it together or for Bliss to finally let him go. I just started the published version & I have to say so far I can see some changes especially the names which is a little confusing & I’m only at 10% but have already heard the ending is different then the Fan Fic version so I’m a little scared if I’m gonna like the published version as much as the other. Fantastic review & I’m crossing my fingers I will finish it with the fulfillment Dusty & Bliss gave me the first time around:)
Thank you so much about the review! The incredible fan reaction to the original fan fic was actually what made me want to read this. I just had to know what it was all about.
Happy reading! 🙂
Your review was amazing. It really defines the story. So I’ve read the fanfiction version of the story and I’ve read it three times since I found it aad I have to say I have never seen a love story as fucked up as this one. Dusty makes it really hard to love him and Bliss is really really strong. You all said that the ending is gonna be different in book 2 I really hope that’s true cause in the fanfiction one it was a cruel cliffhanger. You’ll keep wondering what happens next but the next page is fuckin blank. So I hope it is different. And I like the names. No love the name. Thomas suits Dusty. If you ask me it suits him better than Edward. My book won’t be with me till 30th (yes, I’m having the physical copy). And can you please tell me where the 1st book ends???
Thank you, Kalyani!
Yes, I’ve heard the ending is definitely different and it will end well. The first book ends …. hmmm, I’m trying to say this without spoilers…. Actually, if you go to Amazon http://amzn.to/1oxq7ra and click the cover of the book, you can read the prologue. The prologue is actually the last thing that chronologically happens in the book so technically, the prologue is where it ends.
where did you hear the ending would be different?
I’ve heard it several places but I specifically had a conversation with one of the authors about it yesterday 🙂
how did that conversation go?
Really well! I’m looking forward to the next book! 🙂
Stacy (StacyHgg) says
Wow! I haven’t even heard of this one! But it sounds right up my alley. I love books that deviate from the “traditional” Romance mold. And I am one of the few people that can also tolerate cheating in my books. I don’t love it, but I love to watch couples overcome it.
It’s now on my TBR however I will wait until book two is out to read it. I, like you, don’t really like getting half a story. Especially if the ending is on a low point or cliffhanger.
Awesome!! Sounds like you might really like this one then. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as soon as the next one goes live in the Fall 🙂
Great review~~~Great book!!
Jackie M. says
Saw your review last month, and I said I will read it soon after reading Ugly Love. Then there came Carnage 2, Black Lies etc. So I forgot about this. Then I effin’ find this review of yours for three days and I was beyond frustrated because I couldn’t find it! Then I stumbled upon the bad boy category of tour blog and Thank goodness to all that’s holy, I found it just now! Hahaha! Your review made me want to read this, because unlike everyone else, I like reading about cheating and lies and whatnot. I’m so realistic like that. So Thank You! You and your blog had been a great help! 🙂
Jackie M. says
*Your blog. (correction)
Wait, is this a standalone? I hate cliffys! Hahaha!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it then!
There will be a sequel out Oct 23, so it’s not too long a wait 🙂
I love love love this book! Great review!
It was a really tough book to read. Both of them. But I am so glad that i did. I greatly enjoyed your review as well. Very spot on.