Bella Hall is a confident self-assured college student and manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team. She doesn’t flinch in a room full of naked hockey players in order to get the job she love’s done. She has no problem putting any of the hockey guys or coaches in their place and asserting her position. Bella also is a very sex positive woman who pays no mind to those who deem her “promiscuous”. She loves life and is mostly happy with her life until suffering a bit of a hit when she discovered that her friend-with-benefits, Graham, finally came out of the closet.
Rafe Santiago knows he’s an anomaly at Harkness and doesn’t care. Rafe was raised in a strict household that emphasized the importance of education, abstinence and hard work. He sees his college education as a way to aid his family’s restaurant business in New York. His life changes on a dime when a breakup results in a one night stand with a gorgeous blonde from his dorm that he’s long admired.
The one night of passion creates problems on both sides. Rafe is rife with guilt about disrespecting Bella. Bella is disappointed that Rafe projects his guilt upon her. It’s a mess. Then, things turn uglier when Bella finds her past catching up to her when she unwittingly finds herself in the ugly crosshairs of a fraternity determined to slander her.
Carrie: I really enjoyed the first two books in Sarina Bowen’s Ivy League New Adult series. I have always appreciated that the author has a deft skill in writing the age, with all the myriad complexities, without overdue angst or drama. Though this was somewhat of a continuation from the third book, I didn’t feel that I was lost. I really liked Bella and Rafe as individuals. They were both very solid in their beliefs and individualism. Bella didn’t see any reason why she should conform to societal norms that state that women can’t have energetic sexual lives as they see fit. She wasn’t a ballbuster, per se, but she called them like she saw them and I totally respect that. Rafe was a lovely gentle man. The importance of family and taking responsibility is paramount due to his father’s abandonment coupled with a traditional Catholic upbringing.
Janell: I liked Bella’s casual, upbeat attitude, although it did make me twitchy when she realized that she was about to graduate and her fun days of hanging with the hockey team were drawing to a close. She lived so much in the moment that she’d spent almost no time figuring out what to do after college, and the cranky old lady in my head screamed, “You’ve wasted your education!”
Rafe was the sweet, responsible type of guy that people claim doesn’t exist anymore. He was really into antiques and history, an interesting character trait that wasn’t brought up enough later in the book. The scenes at his family’s restaurant showed how connected he was to every relative who worked there, and to the business itself.
Carrie: I can understand both points of view but I didn’t think they necessarily made for the best couple. I loved how Rafe was there for Bella throughout her trials. He was steadfast and unwavering.
Janell: The adjectives most used to describe Rafe are responsible and steadfast. He had a long-term girlfriend, and he loved the night when he got to be Bella’s pretend boyfriend. He was made to be the perfect boyfriend.
Carrie: However, I didn’t feel like they were best suited for each other.
Janell: I’ve been trying to figure this out. They got together through coincidence, and further coincidence led to Rafe busting out his caregiver side while Bella leaned on him for emotional support. It’s a standard romance trope, but I did feel like the attraction was one-sided for a long time. Rafe pushed himself into Bella’s life, while she probably would have been fine without him. My best analysis is that this was one of those relationships where one partner seriously grounds the other. Rafe helped Bella face reality and do her schoolwork, where otherwise she would have continued on in denial about her future. And maybe she needed that, or maybe she just liked the regular sex.
Carrie: I have an issue how Rafe was described as a virgin but sex god at the same time. Um…no. I fully admit that it is probably my own bias that I have a hard time connecting with a virgin college male. Rafe was every single bit of goodness and I wish I had seen perhaps a bit of another side.
Janell: You mean you don’t believe that an inexperienced college freshman could suddenly take charge in the bedroom? Ha! But I agree, he came across as so wholesome that he practically blushed when Bella talked dirty to him, but he was not shy in bed. That was a bit of a disconnect.
Carrie: Absolutely! I appreciated what the author was trying to do with the characters but it just rang false to me.
Janell: So what’s the bottom line? As a story about people in college, I found it emotional, engaging, and interesting. The various friends were supportive, and the college life felt real. As a romance, well, I don’t know that Rafe really “completed” Bella. They were great characters, but I don’t know if they played off of each other as well as they might have against someone else. It’s a B/B+ for me.
Carrie: I enjoy the author’s writing so even though the romance might have been a miss, I still enjoyed the overall story. I look forward to the next one! It’s a solid B for me.
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Shameless Hour
by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: April 12, 2015