Published: July 10th, 2017; self-published | Series: Juniper Series #2 | Length: 253 pages | Genre: YA contemporary romance | Source: Received from author | Content Warning: physical abuse, drug addiction, sexual assault (SA is not on-page, but mentioned)
Summary from Goodreads:
Celia has spent her life waiting for the next crisis. When the tension at home begins to ease, she wonders if she’ll finally be able to relax. Her father has stopped drinking, her cousin Fay has moved back to Juniper, and it seems like Paul might really care about her. But trust is an uphill battle for Celia, fighting against doubt the whole way.
Paul has been drawn to Celia for as long as he can remember, and she is finally giving him a chance to show her how he feels. But when Celia can’t stop worrying everything will fall apart, and when things in Paul’s own life take a turn for the worse, can they learn to rely on each other?
Lora Richardson knows how to write cute, heartwarming romances. I adored the first book in this series, The Edge of Juniper, when I read it last year and so I went into Juniper Limits with pretty high expectations. Somehow it still managed to be even better than I thought it would be.
One of the things I love about Richardson’s romances is that she manages to write these totally swoon-worthy love interests that still feel like real people. Malcolm was like that in the first book and Paul lived up to that expectation, too. He’s really wonderful. He’s very supportive of Celia and does his best to understand why she acts the way she does without being pushy or getting frustrated when she’s slow to warm up to him or share her feelings. At first, I was a little nervous that he would become too pushy because although he’s clearly interested in Celia, she doesn’t seem to reciprocate his feelings and I didn’t want him to be the type of guy who obnoxiously pursues a woman until she finally gives in. Luckily, that wasn’t an issue – he comes out and tells her that obviously, he likes her, but that if she doesn’t feel the same way he’s fine with just being friends. He made sure she knew that he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable or pressure her into anything she didn’t want to do. Like I said, he’s overall a very supportive and understanding guy and I loved that about him. Yet, he’s not perfect. He can be a bit hypocritical and he tries to take on too much responsibility for other people’s actions. So while he’s a great love interest, he still feels like a real person.
Celia was a wonderful main character, too. She comes from a difficult family situation (her father is an alcoholic and abusive) so she struggles with wanting to leave when she graduates, but not wanting to leave her family as well as how to share her feelings and lean on people like Paul for support. But over the course of the story, she becomes more and more open with Paul and her family rather than trying to handle everything herself while also being supportive of Paul and his own messed-up situation. I loved seeing her grow throughout the book.
Clearly, the book talks about some sensitive topics. Celia’s dad is abusive and an alcoholic and Paul’s mom is depressed and struggles with drug addiction. I think Richardson did a great job of handling these issues and showing the gray areas of them without being insensitive to them. It’s certainly a delicate balance, but one that the author does well. Celia and her younger brother, Abe, obviously hate that their father is abusive, but you see that they also still love him and desperately want him to be the good dad they remember from when they were younger. Similarly, Paul resents that he ends up with so much responsibility as a result of his single mom’s addiction and depression, but still loves her and feels bad that she is struggling so much and is so unhappy. As I mentioned, I think Richardson handled these topics pretty well and really showed how complicated they are, rather than painting them as black and white.
I’m not sure what else to say other than to tell you that you really should read this book/series. If you’re a fan of YA contemporary romance and don’t mind reading about some difficult topics, the Juniper series is absolutely perfect. Richardson perfectly weaves together heartache and triumph to create wonderfully heartwarming stories that will surely make you cry, but leave you with a smile at the end.
Thank you to the author, Lora Richardson, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.