Garth Black's name is rather fitting, given that he's always been the black sheep in town. And in a community where no one expects him to amount to anything, he makes sure he doesn't disappoint. He throws back drinks the way he throws away women, and there aren't many who can be bothered to care what happens to him, so he does his best not to care either. But he's been hiding his feeling for Josie for years, from the time they were five years old to when she fell in love with Jesse to when Garth betrayed them both. And for reasons he can't understand, she's there for him again when what little he has left in life falls apart. He knows he doesn't deserve her, that she deserves better than anything he could ever offer, but even at his worst, he can't stop loving her.
But... Shoddy editing again. No real surprise there, I guess. I still liked the story plenty, but I don't think I'll be buying any more of this author's books unless it's more than clear a skilled editor is involved. Such little, simple mistakes should be worth fixing before expecting people to pay for a product.
Judging Covers: Like the first book, I don't feel like this cover really illustrates the story very well. It's a really nice design, in line with many of the new adult romances out right now, but there's nothing in it that really hints at all the drama taking place on a ranch in a little community where pick-up trucks and Johnny Cash are practically required by law. I would have completely missed this series if the first book hadn't been free. However, if I'd just randomly run across it with a cover that hinted at the country setting? I'd have jumped all over it much faster.
The Verdict: I had a little trouble getting into the story at first, but I think I was just having problems coming back up from the angst in the last book. And stepping into Garth's mind there at the beginning wasn't exactly an angst-free experience. But once things really got going, I was all in.
Garth's a complicated character, a good guy who's pretty much never had anything good happen in his life, save for his friendship with Jesse and Josie. Of course, he went and ruined that the one time he forgot himself and fell into thinking he could have something he actually wanted — the love of the only girl he ever truly noticed. But Jesse and Josie are both too good at heart to hold a grudge forever, and since Jesse's moved on with Rowan, Josie's finally got a chance to reflect on Garth, even if he does get on her last nerve. Garth has certainly given up on himself, merely surviving each day in a repetitive, self-destructive routine, but Josie won't let him fade away. When what little he has is taken away, she takes him in, standing up to her parents, who don't want him anywhere near their family, much less sleeping in their guest room. And that's what made this story different.
In many books, when parents pressure their child to stop seeing someone they deem bad news, the kid inevitably gives in. Josie, however, refused to let Garth be run off. Her snappy answers, even when her mother was all but demanding that she date someone else were a refreshing change from what I normally read, and they made me love her all the more. There was also a stand-out scene, an ugly fight over Josie that had Garth showing his true heart of gold, and while I was disappointed that he never sought any retribution or revenge, his devotion to Josie was perfectly delivered.
Finders Keepers is a wonderful romance between a misfit and the perfect daughter, and while it's a somewhat standard premise, the story was anything but cliche. It was angsty and sweet and funny and just a little dark — all at once — and it was really just the perfect combination. It's characters like Garth who have generations of readers swooning over those damaged bad boys, but you know, after reading this, I can't blame them at all.