By: Mia Garcia
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Julie is in New Orleans working for the summer on houses. A youth group trip full of manual labor is better than hanging around her house watching her brother's life implode while her parents pretend nothing is wrong. Julie needed an escape, so she decided that hammers and nails were her ticket out of town. She can't seem to shake her troubles and worries, but she hopes that she can bury them for at least a little while in the city of jazz, beignets, and the supernatural.
A summer storm is brewing, but the storm within Julie poses to leave lasting damage. She decides its time to truly lose herself in New Orleans rather than working on fixing houses. After running away from her youth group, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of a summer Mardi Gras party that is full of glitter, music, and freedom. Julie has never experienced anything sweeter and for just one night she wants to forget all the skeletons dancing in her closet. Her quest for a night of fun filled oblivion is aided by the handsome Miles, a musician with electric blue hair and a killer smile. Miles is a New Orleans native and he's more than willing to play tour guide for the evening. The pair agree that they will go where the night takes them without thinking about the impeding storm or the drama of their real lives. Baggage has no place on their quest to take in the sites.
I loved traveling with Julie and Miles through the streets of New Orleans. I have only visited there once, but it was enough to seep into my bones. There is something about that city that never leaves you. Perhaps its the all consuming heat and humidity that wraps you in a sultry embrace as you take in the historical sites and consider the possibility of the supernatural. If ghosts, vampires, and witches exist, they would certainly inhabit the French Quarter. Reading this novel was the perfect mental vacation from the stresses of real life. I am now craving another trip to The Big Easy. I can almost smell the beignets and hear the music of Bourbon Street.
I was expecting this novel to be a light hearted romance, but I was surprised to find it had much darker edges. Both Julie and Miles have some pretty major baggage they are running away from, but somehow the pair manages to find a safe harbor in one another. The tropical storm turned hurricane adds another layer to their relationship and adds a sense of foreboding to their time together. There were some tense moments during the storm that had me grateful that I don't live near the coast.
I did find myself tearing up slightly at the aftermath of the storm. The city of New Orleans is resilient and the sense of community is inspiring. Nothing - not even a hurricane - can keep this city and its residents down for long. The weather aspect brought back memories of seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina and thinking of the huge impact it had on that region. Luckily for the characters, the hurricane in the novel is nowhere near the same magnitude as Katrina, but it is fierce enough to cause damage and injuries.
All in all, I enjoyed my mental vacation to New Orleans and tagging along on Julie and Mile's adventures. I found myself rooting for each of them to find their happy ending. I recommend this novel to those looking for a romance with serious undertones and a strong setting. Mia Garcia has crafted a compelling debut novel full of romance, danger, haunting pain, and diverse characters.
One Last Gripe: I disagreed with some of Julie's choices throughout the novel.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting - Garcia truly brings the streets of the French Quarter to life
First Sentence: Stifling.
Favorite Character: Miles
Least Favorite Character: Tavis
All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.
Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.
In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.
But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.