Seeing that a new book has been released by Jennifer L Armentrout is a lot like like looking at the calendar and realizing it’s Christmas Day. You immediately rush to the bookstore (or the kindle store) and pick up your newest little slice of heaven. To date, I’ve read of her 18 of her 31 published books (not including novellas and extras), and I have loved every single one of them. If I haven’t read it, you can be sure it’s queued to be read very soon. She has a way of connecting the readers to the characters in such a personal way that they seem to leap of the page and come to life. Combine that with her incredible writing style, and you can be sure that the minute you pick up an Armentrout book, you’ll be sucked in until the very last word.
Scorched is the story of Tanner and Andrea, friends of the main characters of Frigid, the first book in the series. Andrea is a troubled college senior; she struggles with alcoholism, but refuses to admit it. She’s recently changed her major, and will now have to go through another year of college while her friends graduate and move on with their lives. Tanner is the womanizing bad boy, who is actually a really decent guy at heart. Tensions between the two of them are high. They are constantly at each other’s throats, and have mistaken impressions of the others. To Tanner, Andrea is a spoiled rich brat who drinks and parties too much while floating through life on her parent’s dime. To Andrea, Tanner is a womanizer who uses women and dumps them, with no regard for their feelings. They aren’t mean to fall for each other, but, well, it’s a romance novel. What else is expected to happen?
I’m not going to lie and say that Scorched was the best Armentrout book I’ve ever read. It was actually near the bottom of that list. Keep in mind though, any book at the bottom of Arementrout’s “best works” list is still miles above most other author’s best works. Something was lacking for me in Scorched, especially when compared to the first book in the series, Frigid. The plot seemed very, very rushed (this book could have easily been at least 100 pages longer). The characters weren’t nearly as well-developed as in her other books. While we did understand that there was a problem with Andrea, it was virtually impossible to understand the cause of her alcoholism until pretty much the end. The cause for her problems was extremely vague; in Armentrout’s other books, she’s pretty clear about the previous trauma: Avery was raped, Calla was raised by a drug addict, Roxie felt responsible for the death of her best friend, Tessa suffered through an abusive relationship in the past. Meanwhile with Andrea, we simply knew she had a drinking problem. It made her character difficult to empathize with, and in the beginning it made it hard to put up with her extremely irresponsible behavior. I really, really didn’t like her for a majority of the book. That being said, once I did find out what the cause of her destructive behavior was, I felt extremely empathetic towards her. I needed that piece of information for me to like her, though, so it would have been nice if it had come sooner than the last fifty pages.
Tanner, on the other hand, was a lot easier to understand, and as a result, a lot easier to like right off the bat. He’s portrayed as a player, and as a result a “bad boy”, but answer me this, what college boy, especially in the early years of college, doesn’t sleep with a slew of women? Having spent a year at a large, party orientated university, I can answer that…pretty much none. It’s known by everyone, young college-aged men simply can’t commit. It’s not in their DNA. I don’t blame them though (please don’t think I’m man-slut shamer), it’s a natural part of a guy’s life. Taking that into consideration, I never disliked Tanner for his womanizing ways. He always made it clear that he never intended to establish a relationship, and he stopped sleeping around once he realized he wanted a real relationship. I respect both those qualities. Add that to the fact that he was a volunteer firefighter and planned on becoming a cop upon college graduation, it was hard not to fall in love with him. His character was what really saved the book for me, especially in the beginning.
The relationship between Andrea and Tanner was complicated, but in a good way, that made the book
fun heartbreaking to read. They had great chemistry, and clearly had feelings for each other, no matter how much they denied it. Both had some pretty big personal hesitations when it came to committing to a relationship though. Andrea is not only afraid of his womanizing past, her own commitment issues are holding her back from finding happiness with Tanner. Tanner, on the other hand, is the one who instigates the attempt at a relationship, and makes it clear he wants more than a one night stand with her. I liked this turn of events, since usually its the male character that balks at the idea of a relationship and the female character keeps pushing the idea. However, once Tanner admits to himself how deeply he feels for Andrea, he begins to realize the extent of her problems. He doesn’t judge her for it, but he is concerned and wants her to find help. He recognizes that she couldn’t ever be in a healthy, functioning relationship without first addressing her problems. My only complaint is that while I felt their friendship connection was strong, the romance connection came too strong, too fast. That was one aspect of the story that seemed rushed, and that could have been explored more.
Armentrout dealt with some heavy issues in this book: alcoholism, depression, anxiety attacks, and she addresses each of them beautifully. I never felt that she made light of any of Andrea’s conditions. She also made sure that the supporting characters never judged Andrea for her conditions, and that they encouraged her to get help instead of isolating her from the group. She also showed how dangerous these conditions can be when they go undiagnosed. What Armentrout did was provide a model for how friends of those suffering from depression and anxiety should deal with them, and what could possibly happen if the problem is ignored. Armentrout’s New Adult novels usually deal with some heavy topics, and Scorched was no exception. As per usual though, the story resonated with me, and left me praising Armentrout for the 1000000x time.