Elliot Halloran is running away. Away from her privileged Manhattan upbringing and a promising future at business school. Away from her family, which plummeted from A-list to disgraced after her criminal father’s atrocities were exposed. Despite the guilt Elliot feels for abandoning her family, she has no choice. She is too recognizable to live life as the person she has always been. So when an old family friend offers her a position as an economics instructor at Miami’s elite Allford Academy, Elliot jumps at the chance to distance herself from her past. She cuts her hair, changes her name, and vows never to speak of her old life again. Keeping her identity hidden is harder than Elliot expected, especially with a roommate who seems to be on the verge of uncovering her true identity. As she fumbles through the opening chapters of her new life, Elliot encounters an entirely unforeseen obstacle: photography instructor Luke Poulos. Luke is sensitive and spontaneous. An art lover. Smart. Everything Elliot has ever wanted. Luke and Elliot’s connection deepens when she learns that he lost his parents in a car accident when he was a teenager. Like Elliot, Luke understands that life can shatter in an instant. Elliot knows that a relationship with Luke is impossible; that he would never love her if he knew the details of her past. But as she struggles with whether to open herself to love or keep her true self locked away, Elliot learns that she’s not the only one with dark secrets.
Congrats to Mia Henry on writing a solid debut and a good start to the "Sweet Nothing" series. This book has relatable characters, a bit of mystery, a hot setting (literally - it's Miami!) and some real internal moral debates for our protagonist, Elliot.
I really liked how most chapters opened with an email to Elliot (or Elle, as we come to know her throughout most of the book) from her sister back in New York. This allows us a glimpse into the life that Elle has run away from. Elle's sister is struggling so much, dealing with an alcoholic mother, starting a new school year as a social pariah, and conflicted feelings over her father in prison. Even though Elle has her own struggles in the forefront of her life (starting a new job, living with new roommates, and trying not to fall in love with her coworker, Luke), she is also feeling tremendous guilt over leaving her sister to deal with all the problems back home by herself. Although these problems are all brought to light, I would have liked more information about the scandal or crime that Elle's father committed, and how exactly Elle betrayed him. There were snippets and flashbacks, but for the most part, I was pretty confused. Perhaps this is something the author will share more of in the rest of the series.
The characters, like I said earlier, are relatable. Elle is not perfect - she's quite often disheveled and frazzled, which makes me like her more than I might have. She's also smart and a bit adventurous, and she knows how to have a good time. Elle's roommates are a fun pair, and I actually had a laugh-out-loud moment at one part. But my favorite, of course, was Luke. He seems pretty great - thoughtful, caring, devoted, and talented. What more could you want in a man? Oh yeah, a handsome face and a great bod, which Luke also happens to have! One gripe I have is with the timeline - the whole book took place within a couple of weeks, which seems a really short amount of time for people to meet, fight, fall in love, reveal secrets, and become settled in a new city.