dscn1419-e1437343695696One of the very best “perks” of being a new author is the friendships I’ve made along the way.  This is something I never anticipated when I signed with my publisher, Penner Publishing.  I imagined the entire process would be a solitary one, but the truth is that I’ve made some of the best friendships of my life among other new authors who are experiencing the same process right alongside me.  One of those authors is Kelly Cain, a new adult author whose debut novel, Altered, is due out on January 26.

Kelly was kind enough to allow me an early read of her novel and, though I count Kelly as a really good friend, the review I’m about to give is entirely honest and 100% unbiased.  I say this because, quite frankly…

I was blown away!

Those who know me know that I’m a prolific reader.  I’ll read almost anything, but my special love has lately turned to New Adult.  With this in mind, I was excited — yet more than a little bit nervous — to read Kelly’s book.  I didn’t know what to expect, and I was truly nervous that it wouldn’t meet my  hopes and expectations.  I’m happy to report that it met all of my hopes and then some.

First let me tell you a bit about the story, because it’s unlike any NA title I’ve read to date.  In fact, part of what worried me was the description–the characters are unlike any other I’ve read for this genre before.

Liv is a law student whose life is turned upside down by this “weird” student in her classes named Nicholas.  He’s unlike any of the other students.  He’s scraggly with a ZZ Top-like beard, hair that is long past the point of needing a haircut, and his bathing habits are questionable.  Not that he emits an odor, but more like he appears homeless and anti-social. But Liv seems to have an affinity for bringing the lost into the fold, so she reaches out to Nicholas and this quite, unassuming young man becomes her best friend.  The only problem is that Nicholas is clearly in love with Liv.  Oh, and I forgot:  He’s a boy-genius who has completed his undergrad work by the age of 18.  So he must roughly four years younger than Liv and their peers.

Realizing this going into the story left me concerned.  How in the world was I ever going to root for this “weird guy” and Liv. How in the world could I possibly want them to be together, as clearly the reader is expected to do?  None of this did I share with my friend, Kelly.  In fact, when she reads this will be the first time she hears it and I feel safe sharing my concerns now that I know that this book is amazing!

Altered is unlike any book I’ve ever read, especially for this genre.

  1. The “hero” is the least hero-like of any I’ve ever read. Instead of being a buff, bad-ass MMA fighter, he’s quiet and brainy.  Oh…and a virgin!  Did I forget to mention that?
  2. It features a multi-cultural relationship.  Liv is African American and Nicholas is from Irish descent. Can it really be true that I’ve not read a book with that much diversity?  Sad, but true.
  3. The age discrepancy – Liv must be about four years older than Nicholas.  I’m not usually into the whole cougar thing.

All of these elements left me deeply concerned about how I was ever going to relate.  My concerns were unfounded.

Kelly Cain’s story-telling was spot-on. The story developed  believably, and the intimacy that eventually develops between Liv and Nicholas was sweet, sexy and completely natural.  The story was thoroughly believable from beginning to end.  Which is probably why Liv really got on my nerves.  More than once I just wanted to smack her for being such an idiot!  Why couldn’t she see what we all knew from the beginning?  She was clearly in love with Nicholas, but she refused to accept it because he was so “different’ from everything she’d ever believed was her type.

I won’t tell you any more because it’ll ruin the story for you.  So for now, I’ll just let you know that Altered is worthy of a full and enthusiastic 5-star review.  If you like NA and are sick of reading the same tropes over and over again, you’re gonna love Altered.

For more information on Kelly Cain and her upcoming release, Altered, you can follow THIS LINK to her website.