When I was in grade school, I wanted a pen pal. Blame it on Sweet Valley Twins, where Elizabeth Wakefield’s best friend Amy Sutton had a pen pal who came to visit. This was before social media was a thing (ahem), and so the idea of connecting with a near-stranger hundreds, possibly thousands of miles away, seemed like a fun and inexpensive way to learn about life in other countries.
Now imagine having a pen pal, becoming BFFs with him over all the angsty, tumultuous teenage years, then having him grow up to look like this cover model. Oh, and he also happens to now live in the same country as you and be a world-famous rock star. Um, sign me up, please!
In all seriousness, while Dirty Letters does have a fair amount of steam (I can never look at a Furby in the same way again), it also has a lot of angst and pain and all sorts of emotions. Griffin and Luca have to work hard for their happily ever after, and Keeland and Ward make sure the payoff is well worth it.
See, while Griffin and Luca form a strong bond over the letters they exchange as children, both experience tragedies in their late teens that result in Luca ghosting Griffin completely, and Griffin never forgiving her for that. Fast forward eight years, and Luca is sorting out her deceased father’s estate when she finds Griffin’s rage-filled final letter, and decides to try to reconnect and explain why she stopped writing. Their low-key childhood crushes on each other have developed into more adult feelings, and their letters soon get pretty hot and heavy.
I love that Keeland and Ward don’t let the childhood misunderstanding and the letter-writing format drag on for too long, as the story really kicked off for me when Griffin and Luca finally meet in person. The bulk of the story focuses on the conflict between their wildly different lifestyles — Griffin is a rock star hounded by paparazzi, and Luca is living with severe anxiety (and I think agoraphobic?) with a huge fear of crowds. So the life of a rock star’s girlfriend is definitely not for her.
I absolutely loved Luca as a character. I loved the little details like how she shops at a grocery store after midnight so she can avoid the crowds, and I also love the quirkier details like her having a pet pig. The various aspects of her vulnerability felt real, and I loved how much she developed and worked through her fears over the course of the book. I liked her friendship with Doc, the bird-watcher therapist, who was such a sweet elderly man and very much a father figure to Luca.
To be honest, Griffin took a while to grow on me. I thought his angry letter to Luca when she stopped responding was immature, and honestly a bit scary. Even after they reconnected as adults, I was turned off by his letter being all judgemental about the “shallow” women he meets who “make it easy” to have sex with them. And I was especially turned off when Griffin hired an investigator to find Luca and take photos so he could see what she looked like now.
Fortunately, he improved as a character after they meet in person, and I think it’s because playing off of Luca allows him to show off his sweeter side. I love how much he was in love with Luca, and how committed he was to ensuring her comfort and happiness. In one absolutely beautiful scene, sets things up so she can listen to him perform without having to deal with the crowds and the noise.
Overall, this is a steamy romance that is surprisingly more sweet than the premise suggests. Luca and Griffin are both complex characters, who must move a bit outside their comfort zone to be together, and I love that the decision to do so was not at all easy, but is ultimately well worth the wait.
Want to read Dirty Letters for yourself? Enter here for your chance to win 1 copy of Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward!
– Canada Only (excl. Quebec—full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
– Giveaway begins on November 11th and ends on November 28th at 11:59 pm EST
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Check out the rest of the Dirty Letters blog tour below:
- Nov. 11 – Xandria @ Beautiful Bitch Book Reviews
- Nov. 12 – Erin @ Sleep Less, Read More
- Nov. 13 – Milana @ A Couple Reads
- Nov. 14 – Joy @ Joyous Reads
- Nov. 15 – Allyssa @ Between the Spine
- Nov. 18 – Wendy @ Cupcake and a Latte
- Nov. 19 – Lisa @ RemarkablyLisa
- Nov. 20 – Jaclyn @ Literary Treats
- Nov. 21 – Amanda @ Stuck in YA Books
- Nov. 22 – Christine @ Padfoot’s Library