Author: Denise Grover Swank
Publication Date: June 10th 2013
Series: Off Subject #2
While fashion design major Caroline Hunter may have been born economically unlucky, in college, she’s been lucky in love. Until her senior year at Southern University. She’s gone from a serious long term boyfriend to a string of crappy dates.
Then she meets mathematics grad student Reed Pendergraft.
Reed is everything she’s not looking for. Serious. Headed for a low paying university job. Boring. Caroline spent the first eighteen years of her life wondering where her next meal was coming from. She sure wasn’t getting trapped in that life again with a man living on a professor’s salary.
An encounter with Reed in a club proves she might have pegged him wrong. He brings out a lusty side she never knew she had. But just when she’s about to give in to her hormones, Reed makes a fool out of her.
When she shows up for the first committee meeting for Southern University’s Fall fashion show, a fundraiser for underprivileged kids, Caroline’s horrified to discover the insufferable Reed is the committee chairman. While she refuses to tolerate his totalitarian rule of the committee, she’s not sure she’ll survive the month with her heart—and her pride—intact. Just when she thinks she has everything figured out, she finds that her entire life has been redesigned, thanks to Reed Pendergraft.
“There’s more to life than money.”
“Tell that to eight-year old me. The one who’s immortalized on the wall of pictures at the Middle Tennessee Children’s Charity. The little girl who went to bed crying because her stomach burned with hunger. The girl whose clothes came from the charity and were so worn and faded, they had to be fifth-or-sixth hand, not second. Or the twelve-year-old girl who only had one pair of shoes. A worn pair of sneakers with holes and the soled falling off…You tell the girl whose life was a living hell all because she didn’t have money. You tell that girl money isn’t important.”
One word to describe this book when I first saw it would be gorgeous. I just fell in love with the cover that it made me ditch what I’m about to read just to see this one.
The main character in this book is Caroline, who is Scarlett’s best friend. If you think it’s only Scarlett had a hard life, you’ve got it wrong. Caroline has been dealt with the same cards too. Caroline is a very ambitious girl, who in spite of growing in a village of trailer, is still motivated that she can make it big in the industry.
She’s a childhood friend of Scarlett and they both grew in Shelbyville. She has parents who are struggling to make the ends meet just so they could have something to eat. When she graduated from high school, she went to college (without the help of her parents and with the help of her part-time job) and never looked back. Who could have thought that the great Caroline Hunter has a lot of baggage with her too.
Her character is one of those you can’t help but love. She had gotten under my skin. She may be seen as a gold digging bitch, but I can totally understand her dilemma. She made me cry and laugh at the same time. She’s an epitome of a woman who knows how to get what she wants. She’s confident and stands her ground. There was a rumor that she went to college to earn her M.R.S. Degree, but she doesn’t give a damn. Their opinions don’t matter as long as her future family will not experience what she had experienced when she was a kid. But is that all there is to life? Will money be the key to her happiness? Somehow she believed that, until Reed Perdergraft came rocking her world.
Meet the dashing debonair. The Mathematic Grad student who will be responsible for cracking the walls Caroline had built around herself. He looks and dresses like a professional college professor who has low income according to Caroline. He’s a tad bit protective over his sisters for reasons only God knows why. He had an aversion to rich people and is quick to judge people who sees them based on their income or the family they come from.
For some reasons, the conservative looking Perdergraft, brings out the lusty side of Caroline. Every time she sees him and think about them being together, she’s ready to discard the fact that Reed is a student who has thousands of student loans and who will end up with a low paying job like teaching in a university. However, she doesn’t want to experience that kind of living again. That was one of the reasons why she fled from her house. She wanted to prove that she can succeed and be able to live where money won’t become a problem. That’s why she came up with a rule in dating. No getting a base until the 5th date. Her date should come from a rich family and he should have a course that will have high-paying salary.
From their first encounter at the party, she can’t seem to get rid of Perdergraft. Because even in the annual fashion show of their university, he was also involved. And with this project, it was a challenge to control their desires toward each other until one night they gave in. Reed seem to always say or do something wrong every time they were together.
When Caroline’s walls crumble, he was able to understand her. For the first time, since she was convinced that money will be an important criteria in her boyfriend, she thought like she could give up that idea just to be with Reed Pendergraft. Just when she accepted the fact, a revelation came crushing into her that would either break them apart or get them together.
This book isn’t only a love story. It’s also about women empowerment, that it’s not bad to dream and follow it, that sometimes to let your child be motivated enough to achieve their dreams you have to give her options and challenge them, that you should trust people if you want them to become a part of your life, that parents are still your parents no matter what, that it’s okay to talk about your past if it means helping other people who are undergoing the same situation, and that love will come knocking at your door at times you weren’t looking for it.
This book moved me in ways After Math did not. Mainly because of Caroline’s profound character. She’s an inspiration to every poor kid out there and that there’s hope for them if they strive and aim for their goals.
There are scenes that touched me and made me cry. The part when she saw her photograph at the center and she felt like she was transported back to that time when they’ve got nothing to eat. The part where Caroline convinced Desiree’s parents to let her join the fashion show and the heartbreaking scene at the hospital when her dying mother told her the reason why she let her chose between her dreams and her family.
Denise is a single mom who lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri raising five of her six kids. (The oldest has gone off to live on his own.) She loves to embarrass her children whether it be spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen or making her teens’ friends think she’s funny/cool. *gasp* (Even if it’s in her own mind.) On rare occasions, she is known to post stories about her crazy life on her family blog There’s Always Room for One More.She keeps her sanity by creating worlds to escape to and characters to hang out with.
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Labels: Book Review, Denise Grover Swank