I've been wanting to read this story for some time due to the many elements that appeal to me: healing, redemption, crime, a psychology graduate student character (Livia), a homeless character (Blake), and a story full of emotion. Wow! I got all that and more.
Livia is one of the kindest people around. She smiles at everyone, including the quiet homeless man who frequents the shadows of the Poughkeepsie train station. One morning when some thugs threaten the man Livia's come to known as "Green Eyes", Livia stands up for him. Their first words are adorable:"You might want to find another place to sit," Livia said. "Those idiots could cook up a plan for revenge."
Instead of being the friendly advice Livia intended, her words seem to slice into him.
Why is he in such pain?
"I can't leave." Green Eyes took a huge breath. "This is the only place where I get to see you."
I fell for the sensitive soul Blake from the start, especially after learning that he counts each of Livia's smiles. His foster brother Cole explains:"He counts. You've smiled at him four hundred and forty-six times as of a few minutes ago."
How cute is that?
Blake might have a chance with Livia because her boyfriend Chris is a total CAD
. I mean, he calls psychology "the study of psychos"! Grr.
There are fantastic secondary characters in this novel:
* Livia's younger sister Kyle. What a potty mouth! Blake says "Pretty sure Kyle lacks any kind of editing mechanism"
. Their mother took off shortly after Kyle was born, and Kyle blames herself for not being worthy enough to make their mother stay. Kyle's low self-worth leads her to promiscuity. But perhaps she can find a love match in one of Blake's foster bros?
* Cole is Blake's foster brother who's studying to be a priest. He has a violent past he's running from.
* Beckett is a wildly colorful foster brother who aged out of the system before Cole and Blake, determined to pave the road for his brothers by committing all sorts of sins so they wouldn't have to. He's pretty much become a crime boss, with a muscled assistant named Mouse. Kyle refers to Beckett as "the human steroid." He doesn't believe in following rules, like parking in between the lines:"I'm telling you, Cole, that's how it all gets started. The government's beating us down, and it all begins with those goddamn lines in the parking lot. Set yourself free, my brother. If you see a line, ignore it.
Eve and Mouse were also wonderful characters, along with Livia and Kyle's police officer father.
The flashbacks to the boys getting beaten by their foster dad, and the intensity between Beckett and Eve made me cry so hard.
There are also so many freaking funny lines in the story, but I won't share all the off-color words here ha ha. But one chapter title "My Penis Rules the World" gives you a good flavor! And this excerpt when Kyle berates Livia and Blake at a religious ceremony is priceless (naughty language alert!)"Will you get your asses up here? People are waiting. I mean Beckett here has maybe a few hours before he's bent over a metal toilet getting it up the ass from a guy named Bubba. Do you want him to have fun now or not?"
The streetlight illuminated Beckett as he appeared next to Kyle. "Why would I be the bitch? I don't think that's a fair f*cking assumption."
Kyle refused to look at him and crossed her arms. "Of course you'd be the bitch. You have dimples. Bitches have dimples. And I bet your ass is soft like two pillows."
Debra, I love your screwballs sense of humor ;-) And I love even more that your story made me laugh and cry. An EXCELLENT read!