Rayne Davidson is perfectly happy fading into the background. Her mama’s antics garner enough attention in their small Southern town for the both of them, but when Rayne catches the eye of all-star QB, Preston Howard, she’s enamored with the possibilities. Too bad Preston doesn’t make her heart thump—but his brother does.
Gage Howard doesn’t mind the town’s stares, probably because he doesn’t get them. Growing up in his older brother’s shadow, Gage shrugs off the endless parade of girls Preston brings home—until Rayne.
But there are unwritten rules that shouldn’t be broken, like cheating on your boyfriend or betraying your brother. Rayne and Gage deny their growing attraction, neither willing to hurt Preston—until the town finds out.
They think overcoming the gossip will be the hardest obstacle.
Rayne’s mama has a secret, and its revelation could divide the town, the families, and the new couple.
Can love really exist if it’s all built on a lie?
Hello, South Carolina.
After reading this book, I tried to think of other books that took place in South Carolina and came up blank. This book perfectly encapsulated the southern feel of small town South Carolina. Living in the state my entire life, I related to the book. There were so many things that happened in Rayne’s life that were spot on to what happens in small town life – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Rayne Davidson grew up under the scrutiny of her over-protective mother. Everyone in the town whispered about her family instead of trying to understand them. When Preston Howard, the town’s golden boy, made it known he wanted to ask Rayne out, literally everyone thought it was a lie or a trick. What I liked so much about Preston was how he responded to all the rumors. He didn’t back down from the challenge of asking Rayne out, but that’s what it felt like.
So, overall, I had a hard time letting Preston into my heart like I did Gage. Gage was the golden boy’s younger brother, and a lot of the town didn’t pay attention to him or held him at a lower standard than they did Preston. Rayne and Gage never cheated. I wouldn’t have been able to take it if they had, but Rayne’s desire to be with Preston even though she loved Gage didn’t make sense to me. It made me want to hit her over the head and knock some sense into her. However, in a town this size, it made sense. I didn’t agree with it, but I understood where she was coming from, why she wasn’t ready to let go of the sliver of normal she finally had after seventeen years of hushed conversations and side glances.
Now. Gage. Oh, boy did I love that boy. He was sweet and kind, and I’m #TeamGage until the cows come home. He had a stubborn streak that made me want to shake some sense into him, but he was even a little more lovable because of it. The town was not kind to him in all respects either, so when he made some big changes after a huge secret was revealed, I got it. I didn’t like it; I wanted to chase after him, but I got it.
Then, as if things couldn’t get anymore dramatic, (don’t worry, no spoilers here) an even bigger bomb is dropped. Preston redeemed himself (a little – remember, #TeamGage), and Rayne had to made some very adult decisions. The last hundred pages of this book are so stressful! I could scarcely put it down, while also terrified to read the next sentence because I didn’t want this book to end the way I didn’t want it to end. The town shows up in a sense that they never had before. Snow grasped the concept of small towns, the gossip the festers like infected wounds, but also the people that help bandage you up. The ending, while stressful, tied everything together nicely.
This is a marvelous debut, full of a little sweet, a dash of sass, and a whole lot of Southern. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Carolina Clay series (as long as it’s not about Rayne’s evil ex-bestfriend).