Review: Believe by Erin McCarthy

believeReviewed by Carrie

I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, Sweet, for its strong and realistic college-aged heroine.  I was really hoping that the author would continue this frank portrayal of another college woman trying to navigate her way through some regrettable behaviors.  Unfortunately, the book came up a bit short.

Robin was your typical college party girl; the girl that’s always looking for a good time with booze or boys, preferably both.  Yeah, she knows that she probably drinks a little too much and that the hookups leave her with a little bit of an empty feeling, but she’s young and dumb and having fun.  All of that changes after getting wasted one night blacking out and waking up in the arms of her best friend’s boyfriend.  Horrified and ashamed of herself, Robin holes up in her apartment where she sinks into a summer long depression.  Robin continues to ignore her friends, terrified of anyone finding out her secret.  After deciding that she’ll have to move out of the shared apartment, Robin gives in to her friend Jessica’s demands for a visit where she meets Jessica’s boyfriend’s cousin, Phoenix.

Phoenix is scruffy, tattooed, two days out of jail and living on his cousins’ couch.  What he has in the world can be counted on one hand: $5, a felony record, a druggie mom and a bad temper.  Phoenix knows he can’t offer Robin anything but all he wants to do is help the sad girl in front of him who loves art as much as he does.  They embark on a friendship, despite Jess & his cousin’s disapproval.   Robin isn’t sure what she wants out of life, but she admits that she can’t do it with alcohol.  Phoenix becomes her sounding board and it helps that he’s totally clean too.  Of course, they’re totally bad for each other, but they fall in love anyway.

At first, I sympathized very much with Robin.  I was a bit of a wild child in college and definitely made questionable choices.   I also owned up to every one of my decisions, however much under the influence they were.  So I had an issue when Robin doesn’t run and tell Kylie that her boyfriend is a scumbag who’s been trying to continue to hook up with her.  Instead, she holds her secret close and only cops to it when confronted.

Phoenix was really a sweet guy for being “the bad boy.”  It was just life’s circumstances that led him down a dangerous path.  The self-loathing of being a no good nick was ever present but only as much to be mildly annoying.  In the end, I ended up relating more to his character because it felt more genuine.

On one hand, I liked their relationship.  Phoenix was a good foil for Robin’s naïve suburban girl. He was appreciative and respectful of Robin from the get-go, so she was free to finally be who she was and not have to put on a mask.  On the other hand, the insta-love was soo “insta” it gave me whiplash.  They go to the park, meet for lunch, and exchange a bunch of text and then its love?   Right after that there’s Phoenix getting her face tattooed on him – for a chick you’ve known for a month or two?

Finally, the other two issues I had was the side story with Phoenix’s cellmate and Robin’s reaction after her cover is blown.  The former felt contrived and served little purpose to the story.  The latter was a ridiculous histrionic response that turned me off of the character completely.  Then, in a matter of few pages, the story just whips everything together in a pretty little bow.

Even though I struggled a bit with this novel, the writing is fluid and I enjoy the author’s voice.  If you’re looking for a New Adult that’s a quick read with just a little angst, it might work for you.

Rating: C

*ARC provided by Intermix

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Erin McCarthy
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: InterMix


  1. He got a tattoo of her face?! Those never look good! I question Phoenix’s judgment and sanity.

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