Friday, April 1, 2016

REVIEW of Neeny Boucher's BACK OF BEYOND

Title: Back of Beyond
Series: Complicated Love
Author: Neeny Boucher
Genre: Teen & Young Adult; Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 20, 2016


Dina Martin and Nicholas Riley are total opposites. She's the good girl with the perfect grades and he's the bad boy with a reputation. Growing up together with close family ties, they have been at war as long as they can remember. When the unthinkable happens, neither of them wants it. Set in a small town at the turn of the millennium, this story is about family and friendship, the love of music and how sometimes who you don't want, is exactly who you need.

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Amazon/Goodreads rating:  5/5
In Patti's Imagination rating:  10/10

This is the first book in the series but it was actually written last.  I read the other two books prior to reading this one and the author did such a great job in going back to when Dina and Riley were kids that reading it out of order was not an issue.  
The story begins with Riley, the handsome, green-eyed best friend of Dina's brother, leg propped up leaning against the garage.  If you said that he would be in love with Dina, he would have laughed and given one of his sharp wit comebacks, but fate has a sense of humor.
Dina and her two best friends have a plan to be popular starting with crashing her brother's party.  Dina, who dyes her hair black and can dance very sexy is dancing with the wrong boy and that is just another reason for the mean girls, the Anys, to hate and harass her.  That party fuels the fire of Dina's resolve to be noticed.  

A story of bullying in school and the bullying of the rich families who own the town is told so well. I felt like I was back in high school with these events taking place.  The parallel between what is going on with Riley and what went on with the shop owners and their workers is brilliant.  The minor cast and crew of Dina and Riley's friends had this reader laughing. The drama between being the new lead singer in her brother's band and the Any's is over the top!  The chess clue was an excellent idea.  I turned every page with what will happen to them even with knowing the future.  Would Riley ruin the new love interest because of his past?  Will Dina escape the wrath of the Any's?  Can they fight for each other in the midst of so many trying to tear them apart?  The author’s ability to tell the story of these two is very romantic.  This book is a five star book and the series is excellent. Well worth the read and highly recommended.



“Prissy. What are you doing here?” Dina Martin’s heart sinks. Nicholas Riley’s unnerving green cat eyes measure her and find her wanting. Pretentiously called by his last name, Riley lounges on the door of her family garage with one leg up behind him. Dressed for the river with a towel wrapped around his neck, his long dark hair is tied up on his head. Avoidance competes with irritation. “I live here,” Dina sighs. “What are you doing here?” Peeling his lanky frame off the garage, Riley stands in front of her. “Waiting for Johnny, your cool brother. You didn’t think we were here for you?” His words leech confidence, but Dina’s mind focuses on the plural. Cars are parked on the side of the road, filled with the beautiful people from high school. She shrinks. Lighting a cigarette, Riley blows smoke at her through his pouty, sullen lips. “Um, health,” Dina snaps. She waves a hand, but the smoke keeps billowing. “You look like a blowfish.” Riley laughs, a real one. Her internal alarm rings. Narrowing his eyes, he jabs a finger. “There’s something different about you.” Dina does a quick tally. She’s gotten taller and is nearly fifteen. Her opinion of Riley is low, but he isn’t stupid, and his powers of observation are acute, albeit cruel. “Really?” “Yeah,” Riley grins. He points at her chest. “It looks like your boobies finally came in.” Heat bursts on Dina’s face and her palms go sweaty. Puberty was monstrous. One moment she was as flat as a board and the next, “C” cups sprouted like giant fungi. She cried and tried binding them in the hope they’d go away, but Mom made her stop. Dina’s mind shies away from the next scarring encounter. The one where she was marched shame faced and head down to be poked and prodded by old ladies. When she returned home with bras, no one was allowed to mention it. Defensively folding her arms across her chest draws a derisive snort from Riley. Tears start at the corners of Dina’s eyes, but she blinks them away. “Snitched on anyone lately?” Riley’s mouth quirks up at the corners. “Are you still pissed about this summer? I saved your life.” He winks, tapping her on the arm. “You can thank me later.” Dina’s hand tingles as Riley bats his eyes at her. “Pissed? I’m not sure that fully encompasses the depth of my annoyance and your hypocrisy.” “Oh,” Riley mocks. “You’re a little grudge holder, aren’t you? Was it the grounding?” Very bad words are on the tip of Dina’s tongue, but she swallows the obscenities. Her father is strict on matters of propriety and she is in enough trouble as it is. “Ironic, isn’t it? You, the juvenile delinquent. The worst behaved person I know, snitched on us. Shouldn’t you be getting ready for juvie right now? Does it have semesters, or does it go all year round?” Riley’s eyes narrow. He bites his bottom lip. “I didn’t get you grounded for the other stuff. Who are you going to blame for that?” Dina’s head rocks up and their eyes lock. Her heart beats a steady drum against her ribcage. The urge to somehow hurt him dances in her mind. “Back off my sister, Riley,” Johnny warns, hitting Riley on the arm. Lithe, unruly, black hair with a Celtic cross tattoo that got him grounded, her big brother is one of her favorite people in the world. He’s also Riley’s best friend. “And, you.” Johnny grins, wagging a finger at Dina. “Stop picking fights.” He charges down the driveway, but Riley loiters, walking backward. His cat eyes glitter and he drops his index fingers. “See ya. Wouldn’t want to be ya.” Dina glares. His words hurt. She doesn’t want to be her either.

Author Bio

Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally, I'm from New Zealand and am a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I am living in Europe and a trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favourite past-times: people watching. 
My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.
I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around. 
I have a BA Hons (English and Pacific Studies) and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.

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