Author: Rori K. Pierce
Genre: Mature YA Romance
Cover Designer: Molly Phipps with We Got You Covered Book Design
Editors: Rebecca Jaycox and Amanda Cuff
Publication Date: March 4th, 2021
A high school wallflower. A toxic love. And an online friend who will give her the confidence to break free.
Bethany Rollins fell hard and fast for Trevor Wade. Yet as time went by, he evolved into a dangerous manipulator who encouraged her to ditch her friends and try drugs. Fearing she’s losing herself to his toxic influence, her goal as the Homecoming dance approaches is to break free from him before she loses herself completely.
Bethany’s saving grace in the midst of this is a boy she’s never met. Knowing him only as Xion949, her online friendship with the mysterious stranger has given her the confidence she needs to make the rough choices to come.
Now, Xion949 wants to meet in person and Bethany is terrified. He’s been her rock. Her sounding board through thick and thin. Will meeting in person strengthen their bond, or tear it apart?
From Rori K. Pierce comes a young adult romance filled with gripping twists that will leave readers gasping.
Don’t let the cute-sy cover of Connected fool you; there’s some pretty heavy topics covered inside. At the start of the book, Bethany, the POV character, is in an abusive relationship and things get pretty tense and scary many times. Perhaps the worst is seeing all the excuses that Bethany makes for her boyfriend Trevor’s behavior and the ways she’s able to justify staying with him (she loves him, he can be so sweet, she’s “put so much into” this relationship and doesn’t want to throw it away…) because, yikes, you can see why she might be thinking those things at the same time that you’re screaming, No! Get away from him, NOW! at her. For these reasons, I really wish the author had put a note at the end of the book about where to go for help (https://www.thehotline.org/ is one place to start) for anyone who might be in a similar situation, now or in the future.
The adorable cover art is 100% reflective of the new relationship Bethany discovers during the course of the book, though–Kevin is a much better example of a YA romance-worthy boyfriend. (Plus, they “meet” online, so that is definitely Beth and Kevin depicted on the cover.) Once their rocky start is over and they settle into a last year of high school-worthy romance together, Beth is finally able to see what it should feel like to be in a healthy relationship, and the difference is stark.
But of course Trevor’s not ready to let her go, and more bad relationship drama ensues. Overall the author dealt with this part fairly well–Trevor eventually becomes a behind-the-scenes villain, though, and the resolution of her problems with him is reached rather quickly (efficiently, and in the right way, but–rushed). Bethany eventually gets counseling, which is fantastic, but I’m honestly surprised she was able to deal with things as well as she was before that point. I kind of wished that part hadn’t been so glossed over.
Still, this was a quick read and fairly entertaining. For those looking for a book for YA readers, there is a small amount of drug use and some sex (somewhat on the page, but neither detailed nor graphic) and a conversation or two about healthy relationships and what to do in situations like Bethany’s would be a good idea.
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
Rori K. Pierce was born and raised in central Alabama, but she has always had a passion for traveling and experiencing other cultures. When she isn’t writing, she is managing two home-based businesses and spending time with her three children.
Growing up, Rori found herself constantly immersed in YA fantasy books like The Mortal Instruments and Percy Jackson. Her goal with writing is to inspire and impact readers while shedding light on difficult to discuss issues.
Her debut novel, Connected, releases March 4, 2021.