Title: Waking Olivia
Author: Elizabeth O’Roark
Publication Date: March 14th, 2016
About the Book:
“That girl isn’t just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She’s trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-f***ing-hot-for-her-own good variety. She’s the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more.
A failing farm.
His father’s debt.
Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.
And a secret that could destroy her.
 Dude, you have hot (I mean, HOT) enemies becoming lovers and forbidden romance between a college student and her track coach! It’s pretty much everything you could ask for, right?
And I’ll tell you more… It’s well written!
Having said that, I have a confession to make. I probably saw this on NetGalley months ago, but didn’t really pay attention to it. Shame on me, I know. But then Cris @TinyObsessions read this and said the greatest things about this book, and that made me curious. I’ve been reading a lot of good YA and Adult contemporary romances lately, but it’d been a while since I read a NA that made me all warm and fuzzy and all that.
Well, “Waking Olivia” made me warm, fuzzy and all that, because it’s SO good. I mean, SO good.
The first thing I noticed was that I was going to fall for Olivia hard and fast, because that girl is just my type of friend. She doesn’t try to be nice just for the sake of it and she has a sharp and dark sense of humor that had me laughing just a few pages in. I absolutely love when characters can pull the “I don’t give a crap” attitude off without becoming unlikable – though some might disagree, Olivia was never unlikable to me.
- Olivia after Erin asks her a million questions about why she beat up a boy in her last school:
“So why did you do it? He must have done something to you, right?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, fixing a look on her along with the other listeners, who longer feign disinterest and are watching us avidly. “He asked me too many f***ing questions.” Yes.
Unlikable? Definitely not.
She’s not the easiest person to be around, and she has a lot of baggage, but I felt much more like Erin (the girl who refused to not be Olivia’s friend) than like Betsy (the one who did everything to make sure Olivia understood she wasn’t welcome there), because I wanted to have Olivia around.
At first, Will was more like Betsy, but he eventually became team Olivia. Then what started as two people who couldn’t stand each other, but were forced to work together, slowly and deliciously turned into two people who couldn’t stay away from each other.
Is there anything more entertaining than watching enemies give in to their attraction? Well, the answer is “probably no”, if you’re asking me. Especially when these two people are as good at teasing and talking back as they are at flirting and taking care of each other. Will and Olivia gave their relationship all they had – be it when they were stuck on hate or when they finally accepted their love, which made reading about them so interesting and entertaining.
Will, in all his attempt to be the responsible guy, was a true alpha male. He was hot-tempered and protective of the people he loved. His relationship with his mother helped show him under a different light a bit, because it was quite clear how much he loved and respected her. He also had an interesting dynamic with his younger brother, but nothing surpassed his relationship with Olivia. All Will’s best moments were with her – from pushing all her buttons to taking care of her when she had no one left.
Will’s love for Olivia made it almost impossible for me, as a reader, not to fall for him, too. That was a man who was willing to risk everything for the woman he loved. I don’t know about you, but that right there gets me every single time.
I appreciated how the author chose a different way to show Olivia’s trauma instead of going for the normal and easy “I get drunk and sleep with strangers to forget my past” behavior. What happened to Olivia’s family was truly horrible, but not something I haven’t read about in other books. The way her mind handled it was the unique factor. It was one of the things that made Olivia and this story stand out.
So why not five stars if I read this in one sitting, stayed up late and loved the romance so much? SPOILERS ahead: because the whole thing with Will’s girlfriend was unnecessary and way too close to cheating for my taste. Honestly, I simply wish the author had cut Will’s girlfriend out of the story completely. It didn’t need her.
Will and Olivia already had a lot to overcome in order to be together – their initial distrust and discomfort with each other, Olivia’s nightmares, his position as her coach and what that meant to him and to his family financially. There was a lot going on already.
Having one of your main characters cheat on his partner – no matter how annoying she was – should never be the answer to make things move along or to create tension in a book, especially when you already have so many other things doing just that.
Other than that, I’m positive this is going to be one of those books I’ll still remember in the end of the year, and one I happily recommend to all fans of NA romance.
You can find Waking Olivia here.
Guest review contributed by U.S. – Brazil Book Review. As a book review diplomat of sorts, this blogger reviews books in English and Portuguese. If there’s romance in the book, she’s probably loving it.