Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.
But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.
When the book opens, Cadence is working on a modern-day equivalent of a chain gang. A juvenile offender, she’s forced to wear an orange jumpsuit and pick litter up off the road. While following the trail of debris, she comes across a good looking guy changing out his flat tire. In spite of the close scrutiny of her supervisor, she chats with him a bit, his sweet charm and interesting clothes a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day.
Flash forward a few months. Cadence is now back home, having to go back to school and face her senior year after nearly ten months in juvie. She’s dreading going back to high school, and she’s right to feel that way. From the start she is the subject of ridicule. Nasty notes are stashed in her locker, kids shout names at her as she walks down the hallway. And then, to top off a great day, she walks into her math class to find her new teacher is none other than the tire-changing hottie she met while in juvenile detention.
As the story unfolds, we see Cadence trying to be good. She made one—big—mistake, but nobody is allowing her to forget it. Her parents don’t trust her at all, her little brother has no patience for her, and her ex-best friend won’t even speak to her, at school or outside. The only light in an otherwise dark existence is her math teacher. And that’s where things start to get murky.
S. Walden treads a very careful line during this story, and I loved the way she didn’t try to glamorize the situation or paint Mr. Connelly into a good light. From the start I found myself suspicious of him and his motives, even when he seemed to be saying or doing the right things. But as Cadence came to trust him, I found myself softening too. He seemed to truly care for her, and was the one person who could see through the tough exterior of her past into the sweet girl inside. And when they finally consummated their relationship—after her eighteenth birthday—it was a beautiful, passionate moment.
Good isn’t a glossy, easy read. It is a story about a forbidden relationship, after all. All the characters have flaws, and at times make you want to scream, shout and berate them. But it is artfully written, perfectly plotted with characters that seem to pop off the page. I’m not ashamed to say I loved every word. If you like your characters broken, your stories edgy and your climaxes explosive, then Good is definitely for you. Go read now!
Five naughty, taboo-like stars.