Ten Tiny Breaths, by KA Tucker

>> Saturday, November 09, 2013

TITLE: Ten Tiny Breaths

PAGES: 262
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: New Adult
SERIES: There's a sequel telling the sister's story

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them.

What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D. Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

The basic plot here is very typical NA: Heroine with a huge, horrible tragedy in her past, which has made her withdrawn from life. Hero who tries to reach her, but who has secrets of his own. With such a popular set-up, you're always going to get good and bad executions, and I thought this was one for the 'good' column.

Kacey Cleary is the sole survivor of a drunk driving accident which killed not only her parents, not only her boyfriend, but her best friend as well. Understandably, this left her pretty messed up. For a while she tried all the standard self-destructive ways of coping with tragedy, until her younger sister, Livie made her promise Kacey wouldn't leave her as well. As the book starts, Kacey is still not coping that well, but she's doing better. And then she discovers that the uncle they live with has made sexual advances on Livie, and realises they need to get out of there.

The two end up living in an appartment complex in Florida (I pictured something like the one in Melrose Place), where Kacey ends up getting close to two of the neighbours. The first is Storm, who becomes a friend and offers Kacey a job as a waitress in the club where she strips. The second takes a while longer. His name is Trent, and he's about Kacey's age and much too attractive. After a while, Kacey beings to feel that she can start building a regular life and begin to develop relationships with people again. But it turns out Trent has his own issues, and they are such that they threaten his relationship with Kacey.

Ten Tiny Breaths is an angsty read, but angsty in a way I enjoyed. Although there is a romance, the highlight for me was seeing Kacey heal, moving away from a numb state, where she hardly cares what happens to her and is completely isolated from anyone but her sister. This is done in a gradual, believable way. The romance fit well into that theme. It was possibly a bit too fast to be believable, but I did buy it. Finally, I particularly appreciated the non-stereotypical way in which Tucker portrayed Storm, and how she got her own really sweet (in a good way) HEA.

My only problem with this book is, like most people I know who've read it, with the ending. There's a twist, and those developments (I'm trying to be vague here) result in a resolution which I'm not sure was a healthy one for everyone involved.

Since this is self-published, I should say something about the writing. It's not awful, but it's not great, either. There are some typos, some words used incorrectly, and the author needs to learn how to use hyphens properly, but it wasn't too distracting, or even bad enough to lower the grade.



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