"Everything about Jessie Gillmansen's life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wanted if to avoid more change. But while showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she's about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent - he's a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie's small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can't avoid."
This book was pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago by Jess, who mentioned hearing about it at the Romantic Times convention this year and was really looking forward to it. So I checked it out and thought that it sounded interesting so I ordered it. I didn't expect to adore it though, and I completely do. The book opens with Jessie grooming one of her horses, Rio. I'm more horse obsessed than book obsessed, which is saying something, so right there Jessie had mega points in my book. The mystery with the werewolves starts up moments later, though Jessie doesn't understand it for a long while. It's not a particularly fast paced book, but it doesn't hang around. Jessie was easy to like, her voice easy to get in to and she's a complex character. She's hurting for her mom, crushing big time on football star Derek and helping her best friend Sarah, who has been through a really rough time as well. Then in steps Pietr. Hot new Russian guy who she can't figure out. Every girl in school is drooling over him, especially Sarah, but not Jessie. She's annoyed by him more than anything. He aggravates her easily and seems to enjoy pushing her. He's brutally honest and Jessie respects that, even if she doesn't always like it.
Jessie has a lot of spark to her, and she doesn't back down easily. She's smart and she knows what she wants, apart from when it comes to boys. Derek, after years of crushing on him, seems to finally be noticing her too. But can she really trust in his attention? The more she gets to know Pietr, the more she finds herself falling for him too. But Sarah wants him and Sarah being happy is more important to her, so she can't have him. But there is more to this book than romance. It's also about friendship, about Jessie dealing with her mom's death and growing up. And about a year ago, there was an incident in a town not too far from theirs. A wolf attack that left someone dead. Jessie is an editor on her high school paper and it's something she'd love to know more about. She looks in to it a little in some of her free time. And when she faces a giant wolf on her horse farm, she's even more curious.
I was hooked on this book from the start. It's sweet, intense, sad, thoughtful, mysterious and there are some very funny moments as well. One of my favourites being Pietr being faced with a kitten who suddenly faced with a werewolf in human form, and goes...a little bit crazy trying to hurt him. Jessie has a second best friend, Amy, who I love. She's doesn't mind telling it as it is, and she's wiling to support Jessie, and kick her when she's being an idiot, as any true best friend should. She's a fantastic side character and the friendship she and Jessie share is very real and really adds to both their characters, as well as just being a great addition to the book.
All the characters are really well drawn, and so is the location adding to the overall tone. It's well written, carefully revealing secrets from everyone as the book unfolds. There were some things I thought I had figured out, then when it got there, things turned out to be completely different. Or at least, not like they'd first appeared. Great characters, great plot, carefully written and very, very enjoyable. The ending was fantastic but left me hanging. I very much want the second book to find out what happens next for Jessie and Pietr. There were some big moments at the end that are obviously going to leave lasting impacts on them both, and those around them by default. There is a lot still unknown and a lot that still needs explaining, but I'm really happy with what we do know at present and that we don't know everything, that Jessie and Pietr don't know everything. Far more interesting learning along side them, watching them screw up, learn, grow. Life. I can't wait for the next book in Feb 2011, Secrets and Shadows. I loved everything about this book and would highly recommend it!! 9/10