"Just promise me something.
Don't fall in love with me."
Ten Below Zero is a standalone New Adult love story by Whitney Barbetti. If you've read the author's previous book, He Found Me, you'll recognize Six, Mira, and Rosa, supporting characters who are mentioned in this new book. You don't need to read the aforementioned book but it is a good story so check it out anyway. Plus, you'll gain a better understanding of the story behind Chapter 15 in this new release. ^.^
Parker Sloane is a 21-year-old college student and waitress. She used to be many things until she's savagely attacked in a parking lot, leaving her scarred physically and emotionally. She distances herself from people, refusing to form attachments or even engage in casual conversation unless absolutely necessary. Until she receives a text message...
Everett O'Callaghan is a 26-year-old guidance counselor and has battled his cancer diagnosis more than once, and now he simply refuses to go and put his family through all the treatments, anguish, and procedures. He's choosing to live whatever time he has left on his terms. Then he sends a text message to the wrong number. Later he decides to take some company with him on the road trip he has planned.
Parker and Everett come off more as sparring partners in the beginning of their friendship, though I'm hesitant to even call it that. They bicker a lot and Parker doesn't even know what his last name is until more than halfway through the book (he learns her name with a bit of research early on). She thinks he's a rude, cocky asshole and he thinks she's frigid, calling her "ten below zero". All that back and forth may be considered foreplay because we all know they're going to fall for each other but watching them get to that point and then realizing that Everett is still dying is what makes this book worth reading from start to finish.
I liked that there wasn't any of the usual "love at first sight" we find in romance novels. Parker and Everett's love story is more of a slow burn, progressing with each day they spend in each other's company. There isn't even this urge to make changes for each other, forcing them to accept what they have before them, faults be damned. ^.^ While on their journey together, they try to abide by rules they've both come up with and end up breaking the one rule that neither of them would have ever thought could be broken.
This is the kind of book that makes you feel and think at the same time. Would you make the same choices that Parker and Everett made and would you choose to stand by those choices even when your circumstances have changed? The characters are refreshingly real and the story is both well-conceived and well-written. And that epilogue? It had me tearing up and then smiling with satisfaction.
I highly recommend Ten Below Zero to my fellow bookaholics out there. This is one of my favorite books of 2014 and I'm giving it five stars. ♥
Date read: 13 September 2014
Learn more about author Whitney Barbetti here.