Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: Caught in Us by Layla Hagen

Title: Caught in Us (Lost #3)
Author: Layla Hagen
Publication Date: August 3, 2015
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Pages: 256
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I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Dani Cohen knows Damon is trouble the second he walks in during senior year. He has bad boy written all over him. . .from his arrogant smirk to his perfectly toned abs. He is arrogant, intense, rebellious.

Dani has her future all planned out. She’s not the type to fall for a bad boy, no matter how panty-melting his grin is or how shamelessly he flirts. But something about Damon draws her in, awakening a desire she’s never felt. Slowly, she uncovers the secrets Damon hides: underneath his arrogance lies a tortured soul, his flirting smile masks despair.

Damon arrives in Dani’s life against his will. Carrying the scars of a dark past and facing an uncertain future, he knows he should stay away from her, but can’t. Her innocence consumes him, as does the desire to indulge in the passion igniting deep inside her.

An all-consuming bond blooms into a reckless love. But when mistakes from the past threaten their already fragile future, can their love survive? 

Early this year I read Withering Hope by Layla Hagen and fell in love with it! So when I was contacted with a chance to review another book by the same author, I jumped at it! Caught in Us is the third in a series that I haven't read, but it can also be read as a standalone new adult love story.

Dani and Damon are the two main characters of this romance and the setup is a familiar one: good girl meets bad boy. To be honest, my initial thought was that this was Beautiful Disaster (which I despised) done right! While Damon is a bad boy, he isn't a jerk and he treats people, including Dani, with decency. I really liked both these characters! Dani wasn't "too" good to the point where it was annoying and I was able to easily sympathize with her difficult home life. Damon also had a really rough background that made his situation believable. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, especially James! I think I'd like to have a big brother like him.

The story is really broken into two parts - high school and college. Shockingly, I really enjoyed the high school parts best. It didn't actually feel like high school to me, but maybe that's just because I was extremely sheltered and didn't even date when I was Dani's age. Either way, I loved the forbidden romance story conveyed in the first part of the book.

The second half was where it started to unravel a little for me. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's a character making the decision about what's best for the other on their own. Breakups "because it's better for you" really get under my skin. But I digress. A villain is also a big part of the second half and it honestly just felt unnecessary. It was a great story even without the added drama of the bad guy. Still, it all worked out in the end and I did like the way everything came together.

But my biggest issue with Caught in Us was the dialogue. As I've said already, I really enjoyed the other book I read by Layla Hagen! But the dialogue here was just... off. It was almost too formal and I found it really unbelievable that anyone actually talked that way.

Overall, this was a good story. I didn't love it nearly as much as I loved Withering Hope, but survival stories are probably more my thing. I'd definitely recommend this to fans of contemporary romance!