Own Up to the Crazy. Stop Resisting the Crazy. You Are the Crazy.

Believe - Erin McCarthy
"So what do we do now?" he asked.
"'There's no remedy for love, but to love more.' That's Thoreau," I murmured.
Phoenix kissed the corners of my mouth. "'The future for me is already a thing of the past. You were my first love and you will be my last.' That's Bob Dylan."

Everything works out if you do whatever you want. That's Peter Griffin.

Oh we're not doing a quote-off? Because outside a drinking game that didn't exist two seconds ago, these kinds of conversations NEVER happen in real life. They do, but I imagine couples or people talking to each other like this (in all seriousness) are always asked to leave the premises because of excessive eyeroll factor.

Right, got ahead of myself again.

As the third book in Erin McCarthy's True Believers series,Believe offers a lot of firsts to its fans. This is the first time the story is told in alternating POVs between the hero and the heroine. First time the male protagonist is not a Mann sibling… And the first time I wanted to DNF a McCarthy book at 20%. 

At first I thought it was just my "conflict of interest" with New Adult books in general but I just read Sweet immediately before this and while I had issues with that one, I still managed to appreciate what it was trying to accomplish. This one, on the other hand, was such a struggle for me from the get-go. Poor editing, inorganic dialogue, messy character building, questionable logic… and so on. 

So we're done with Rory (True) and Jessica's (Sweet) books, it's their roommate Robin's turn to have a happy ending. She was introduced in Sweet as Jessica's partying, graphic design student friend who starts her HEA journey by sleeping with her roommate's boyfriend after one night of heavy drinking. She goes off to the Mann boys' house in the shady side of town (which given the amount of foot-traffic from WASPs is steadily losing street cred) to tell her roommates (Jessica and Rory) that she's leaving their shared apartment burdened with the guilt of hurting Kylie. 

Here she meets tattooed, intense and hot Phoenix (I can't remember his last name, dammit!), Tyler and Riley's cousin who just got out from jail. He makes her feel good despite her dirty little secret. There's insta-lust, yes. She gives him her number on first sight. They exchange cat memes and honey-badger videos. Day 2, they go out on a date. Insta-lust/insta-love is par for course in New Adult books, its somewhat the rule so its pointless to rage against that. My problem lay with Robin inviting Phoenix to her apartment to spend the night in the couch and eventually in her bed (I know, WTF) without knowing what he went in jail for. Because that is also Rory AND Kylie's apartment. Remember Kylie? The one whose boyfriend your guilt-tripping on sleeping with? THAT'S how you deal with your guilt?

And nobody in the book find this an issue. AT ALL. 

I don't want to pass judgment on a person's past and I do believe having a criminal record shouldn't be the one thing we base a person's character on. Just as someone's biceps and tattoos and floppy hair shouldn't be the sole basis of you trusting a guy enough to invite him to the place where you live with two other women. Someone needs to watch Frozen with Robin.

This being my third book from McCarthy, I'm starting to sense a pattern to her writing. Her messages against certain stereotypes seem sincere but it feels awkward and off-key the way she incorporates it in the story. Whenever the narrative transitions from dialogue to a character's musings, it comes off forced and winding. Case in point Phoenix' ramblings on octopi and his love for Robin. It's too long to quote, let's just say it came out of nowhere and made me worry about Phoenix' mental stability when you put it alongside his bizarre musings.

EXHIBIT A: "I want to kidnap you," he murmured in my ear. "So that I never have to let you go."

EXHIBIT B: I found it oddly satisfying that she was crying, which was fucked-up, but the thing was, I knew she was crying out of sadness for me. I'd never really had anyone care about me like that.

EXHIBIT C: Maybe part of me wanted her to wake up. Maybe I wanted to see fear in her eyes. Not because I warned her to be afraid but because when someone is scared of you, you're no longer vulnerable. They don't have any power over you.

Just sayin', this totally missed out on making an unprecedented genre-shift to a psychological thriller. But as a college romance… que?

Not to mention the catatonic staring while driving, the watching while Robin was sleeping, the tattooing of Robin's face on his body… I mean, Phoenix has Intermittent Explosive Disorder (which oddly sounds like Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but these thoughts hardly factor into his lack of rage control, I think, and just makes me concerned and confused. Because what I'm seeing is a person with deep psychological issues when the way he was presented in the majority of the book, he was a territorial bad boy hero who just doesn't want his girl getting hurt.

Um, swoon?

Also, why does Phoenix have longish hair coming out of prison? I'm no expert but I assume keeping as less feminine as possible is somewhat prison tradecraft right along with not dropping the soap in the shower.

I failed to make a strong opinion out of Robin unfortunately. She was neither here nor there for me. The details of what went on between her and Nathan were quite fuzzy because one moment of hindsight she claims its consensual, in the next she remembers she's passed out from too much alcohol and in another, Nathan claims she gave him the best blowjob of his life. I did like that she recognized where the problem lay and her intent to protect her friend was believable and rational. 

This was a little more steamier than the previous books if that's your thing. A whole lot of cussing from the Mann Boys which I adored. I loved Jayden and wished longer scenes where he shows his dog shaming photo collection. But seeing as the next book is about Kylie, a character I have no intense affinity to begin with, I think it's time this series and I part ways.

ARC provided by Penguin Intermix thru NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Quotes may not appear on the final edition.