Joint Review: True by Erin McCarthy

Publisher: Intermix (Penguin)
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date: May 7th

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory. Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better.


There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t… Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Lou: I was pleasantly surprised when I found the request in my inbox for True. I’ve been a fan of Erin’s books in the past so when I read the blurb for True it immediately hit the right buttons for me. True is a very romantic NA. The history and talent of Erin’s romance writing skills are evident in this book, and I think she has a voice that suits the age demographic for NAs.

Rory is a virgin but she doesn’t really want to be one. She doesn’t view her virginity as a blessed thing to behold (not that there’s anything wrong with people who do believe this) but Rory came across as a normal young woman who wanted to experience new things in life after school. The beginning of the book is similar to how other NAs have started with Rory being sexually assaulted, and when she can’t get the shit to stop, the hero comes in.

I can understand why people have issues with this as a plot device. I do think it needs to move on from using sexual abuse as a plot device. .

Has: This trope has definitely become part of the formula for the college setting in NA recently. And while I wish there could be more issues explored in this genre, sexual assault is an important and serious issue which True covers realistically. And I was very pleased that the plot wasn’t restricted to this aspect but encompass other elements like drug addiction and abuse which made it a dark and gritty read. It also didn’t shy away or gloss over the repercussions and consequences, and that was refreshing because the NA books I recently read didn’t do a good job in covering darker issues. I think Erin McCarthy really has a compelling and engaging voice with her debut within this genre.

I also liked that Rory was a likeable and relatable character. She was introverted, awkward, and wasn’t gorgeous or popular but she was witty and funny and this is what made her attractive to Tyler and to me as a reader because he recognised those traits and was drawn to her. Even Tyler, who is the the atypical bad boy archetype with the tattoos and roots from across the tracks with a dysfunctional home life but he is loyal and true to his brothers. I liked that McCarthy turned these elements around and made it fresh and realistic and it made me believe in the story.

MinnChica: This was the second New Adult book I’ve ever read, and for me, it was the first one that dealt with sexual assault. I think it’s a huge issue that needs to be addressed with that age group, so I was glad to see the way that McCarthy handled it. I really liked both Rory and Tyler. Rory was a little sheltered and naive and she was a relatable character for me, a little awkward and desperate to fit in, find her place in the world. Tyler was the typical bad-boy with a soft center. I loved that he tried so hard to be good and worthy of what he thought Rory deserved, it made me adore him that much more as a character. 🙂

Lou: What I loved about the blurb was that Tyler was learning to be an EMT. I really liked Rory and Tyler. Tyler came across as natural, just like Rory, and their romance wasn’t too angsty. It was just right for me. My only issue with Tyler’s character was that I wanted him to be an EMT because he wanted to be in the profession. Whilst he did it for his younger brothers, it would have been nice to have that as a goal for Tyler. The story starts with Tyler having a casual and sexual relationship with Rory’s other friend. Rory really didn’t think much of Tyler before, and she’s surprised when he shows interest in her. What comes across really well in True is that casual sex is not treated as this horrible and nasty experience. There’s no slut shaming.

Coming back to Tyler’s home experience, I did enjoy the interactions he had with his younger brothers. I think the plot of having an alcoholic mother was a little too convenient, but the interactions between the brothers was realistic and felt natural, especially in how Tyler treated his younger brother who had Downs Syndrome. When Rory and Tyler’s romance heats up and she sees his home life, she doesn’t turn into a saintly Mother Theresa who wants to mother all of the boys.

Has: Yes! This is what I really loved about the book so much, especially since the subplot with her best friend being involved with Tyler could have been use as a wangsty and drawn out obstacle between them. But it wasn’t the case and I loved that because it felt natural although I wasn’t keen on how Rory’s friends originally set her up with Tyler and I felt that didn’t really make sense or needed in the plot.

I also loved how Tyler and his brothers gelled with each other and definitely agree about the issue of disability being covered; usually its idealised or glossed over. Although I would have liked to see more about Jayden’s character, because he was fun and he definitely created an interesting dynamic with his brothers. But I liked that the other brothers were fleshed out and they had great chemistry because it was refreshing. And I loved the scene where Jayden the brother who had Downs Syndrome got the tattoo he wanted when he became an adult and that for me really sums up the themes of NA and coming of age themes.

MinnChica: I thought that Tyler’s relationship with his brother was one of the best parts of the book. I always love books that deal with family dynamics, and the relationship between Tyler and his brothers, with their mother, it was all so gritty and nasty and dark and wonderful all at the same time. I can’t wait to see how things develop in the next book in the series between the brothers. I have to admit that while I don’t know much about Downs Syndrome I also didn’t think that McCarthy went too deeply into the disease, and it came across as somewhat of a disservice. I wanted more, but instead I didn’t really feel as if Jayden had any sort of disability. However, the way the brothers treated Jayden as an equal was endearing.

Lou: Yes–there wasn’t any special treatment towards Jayden and the scenes with him were very sweet, especially the Thanksgiving scene where the boys had a proper meal for the first time. I do think whilst the behaviour and reactions towards Jayden were great, I agree with Minn that there wasn’t much knowledge about the condition.

I also didn’t like how Rory’s friends persuaded Tyler to take away her virginity. It was manipulation, and I was glad to see Rory deal with that later in the book with her friends. I was also happy to see that Tyler wanted no part in their scheme. He truly liked Rory who was funny, and didn’t take any shit from him. Tyler is a little arrogant but it doesn’t cross over into douchebag territory.

Tyler and Rory’s romance does have its issues, especially coming from Rory’s father. Rory is sort of like a miniature version of her father, awkward and doesn’t discuss feelings or show emotion easy. He’s worried about Rory hooking up with Tyler and makes some decisions that affect his relationship with Rory. There is a little angst, especially towards the end which is where the book suffered. Rory got into trouble and his whole arrest and the repercussions of what happened were dealt with super fast. You only had to blink a couple of times and the end was near. The ending was very abrupt and it didn’t gel with the rest of the book.

Has: I definitely agree that the ending was rushed and way too abrupt for my liking. I would also like to have seen more about the events and the consequences of what happened because so much happened in just a few pages at the end. But I did like that Erin McCarthy didn’t shy away from the fallout over Tyler and his family and not everything was tied up in a bow. Yet, I was happy with the way it was ended and I think the follow up with Tyler’s older brother and Jessica will be interesting and I hope it explores more about the repercussions especially with the way it ended.

MinnChica: I loved the different between Rory and Tyler’s family dynamics. I loved that although Rory’s father was adamant against the relationship between them, he also welcomes Tyler and his brothers with somewhat open arms, showing them just how supportive a family can be. I hope we get to see more of those dynamics in future books. I also thought the ending was a bit rushed as well, but I’ve found that to be the case with a few McCarthy books. I’m pretty anxious to read the next book in the series, as I think McCarthy did a wonderful job of creating intriguing secondary characters and a hook for the next book.

Lou: Surely an extra chapter or two could have been allowed so the ending could develop properly without feeling as if the author ran out of air. I wanted to see how Tyler would deal with his arrest, how he was going to deal with the aftermath and what was he going to do instead. I suspect that we’ll know more about Tyler and Rory’s story in the sequel, and we’ll see glimpses of their lives as Tyler’s eldest brother gets his story with (was it Jessica?). All in all, True was an enjoyable story with a strong romance. I give it a B-.

Has: Overall I felt True was one of the best NA’s I’ve read in awhile while the ending did lose some steam; the characterizations and plot were multi-layered and fleshed out and I liked that serious issues were explored with real consequences. I also loved that unlike other YA’s and NA’s Erin McCarthy didn’t fall into the pitfalls and cliches of generating forced angst or used slut-shaming which is a huge issue for me in this genre. What I loved about True was not so much about the romance, which I really enjoyed because it was about acceptance and trust and that first taste of real love, but it was also about true friendship and family despite hardship in any form. The way it dealt with these themes were well done and realistic. I also give True a B-.

MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed True and it gave me another wonderful introduction to the New Adult genre. I loved the way Rory was able to explore her sexuality, her individuality, and was given the chance to explore being on her own as an adult. It’s one of my favorite aspects of this genre. I’m excited to read about Tyler’s older brother and Rory’s friend, I think their story is going to be just as fabulous! I hope that McCarthy continues to write more within the genre!

I give True a B+

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