By Temple West
Available now from Swoon Reads (Macmillan)
Swoon Reads has been around for more than a year now, but VELVET is still the first Swoon Reads book I've read. On the website, you read, rate, and review YA manuscripts uploaded by users. The best rated and most popular manuscripts get published by Macmillan's Swoon Reads imprint. It is an innovative approach to publishing, so I'm surprised it took me this long to read one of the books.
VELVET starts when Caitlin Holte gets caught in a freak storm and rescued by an inhuman boy. Readers soon realize she can't remember the incident, although she does know who saved her: her neighbor, Adrian. Like her, he's an orphan who moved to the small town of Stony Creek, New York to live with his aunt and uncle. He's also super hot, of course. It's a pretty standard YA setup, but I like that Temple West took it in a few unique directions.
First, I loved that Adrian came clean to Caitlin about his vampirism pretty quickly. He also let's her know that she's in danger from his father, who caused that storm at the beginning of the book. His father is in a snit and Caitlin just happened to end up in the middle of things. Adrian still keeps secrets because the vampire government makes him, but he's actually fairly open about what's happening because knowing the danger she's in helps Caitlin stay safe. It's both logical and refreshing.
Second, I loved how lived-in Stony Creek feels. Several of the girls Caitlin hangs with have their own romances going on, and school is a fairly important part of Caitlin's life. As she starts to reconnect to her own life after her mother's death, she realizes that she has a lot to catch up on from those months she was tuning her schoolwork out.
Third, I loved that Caitlin's best friend Trish counsels her to leave Adrian if he isn't making her happy. Being in love with someone isn't treated as the be-all end-all of relationships in VELVET. However, that leads me to an aspect I didn't love, which is that Adrian and Caitlin get into fights all the time. The seed, of course, is that their romance is forbidden. Vampires aren't allowed to love humans, so his relationship with her is a fake to help him stay close and guard her. Being a fake girlfriend to the boy she loves hurts Caitlin on top of the fact she's raw with grief and strange nightmares that plague her at night. I got her emotions, I just got tired of fight, then make up, then fight, then make up. It was an exceedingly repetitive story beat.
VELVET does end with a great hook for the second book, involving one of my favorite characters in danger. I definitely want to read the sequel, especially since VELVET was a very quick and relaxing read. I think I'll also try some of the other books published by the Swoon Reads imprint. VELVET reflects well on their style.