November 17, 2013

Book Review: Beside Your Heart by Mary Whitney

Beside Your Heart by Mary Whitney
Hosted by: Bare Naked Words

"It's an emotional story that will take the reader back to those feelings that made the late teen years such a powerful time."

Late one night Nicki Johnson plays with emotional fire and Googles her high school love, only to find his name splashed across the British gossip columns. Back in his native England, Adam Kincaid is successful and dating a woman from an aristocratic family like his own. With a career in politics, Nicki’s no slouch, but she knows Adam is living a world away from her life.

Yet there was a time he was no farther than the next locker. Nicki will never forget their year together in high school—the year of her sister’s death, the year her mother checked out. Adam helped Nicki through suffocating grief, and she led him through a coming of age. Was it just high school, or was it something more?

***The sequel, Disclosure of the Heart, released November 5**

Beside Your Heart (Beside Your Heart, #1)Beside Your Heart by Mary Whitney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I ended up really liking this book, but it was a very slow starter for me. I was probably close to halfway into the book before it really sucked me in. I can't really pinpoint what it was that kind of held me back from really connecting. The writing was great, and the characters were good, but I think the pace of the story was just a little bit too slow. I was almost bored with the lack of development in the first half of the book. When the two main characters finally began pursuing a relationship, I was hooked.

The story is about two 17-year old high school students named Nicki and Adam. Nicki has had a horrific year. Her younger sister was killed in a car accident, and Nicki and her mom were both seriously injured. Nicki is still learning how to live with her grief, and how to live in a world without her sister when school starts back up. And with school comes Adam Kincaid. Adam is a British boy that has been living in the USA for the last year. He is going to school for one more year with Nicki, and then his family is moving back to England. Nicki has had a crush on him ever since he moved to town, but at the time she had a boyfriend, and then the tragedy with her sister happened, so the timing has just never been right. Nicki and Adam are both drawn to each other, but there are still obstacles in the way of them being together. Once they finally manage to both be available and decide to give it a try, it is magical. But Nicki is still dealing with a lot of emotional baggage, and Adam is going to be leaving at the end of the school year, so it almost feels like their relationship was doomed from the start.

I love how Adam and Nicki's relationship was so honest and real. It captured those first love feelings perfectly. Teenagers in love may seem like a trivial thing to most adults, but if you think back to how it really feels, it feels like the most real and intense thing in the world. And Mary Whitney was able to convey that perfectly in this book. Adam and Nicki weren't just playing at being in love - they really were. Their feelings of happiness and tenderness along with grief and sadness were powerful. Everything about their relationship and their time together rang true to me. And I really liked that.

Overall, even though this book started out slow for me, I ended up really enjoying it and reading the last half as fast as I could. I probably will pick up the next book in this series to see where things go for Nicki and Adam in the future.

View all my reviews


“No British literature. Isn’t this supposed to be an English class?” Adam asked.
“Uh.” My ancestors would’ve been proud of the jolt of American patriotism that hit me.  “There was a revolution two hundred years ago. We write our own books now.”
He leaned back in his seat with a smile. “I think I heard about that.”
“We still share the same language.”
“Sometimes I’m not too sure.”
“I bet not.” I could imagine what he thought of a Texas accent.
 He picked up the list of books again. “What about Catcher in the Rye?”
“I read it a long time ago when I was, like, eleven. I laughed a little as I remembered how I’d first come to read it.
“Is there something funny about that?
“Yeah. My father had suggested I read it then. The book is the classic coming-of-age story. Clearly, he wasn’t really thinking about whether or not it was appropriate for an eleven-year-old.”
“Really? Why?”
“Well, for one thing, the main character is a guy who swears a lot.”
“I suppose I swear a lot.” He cracked a sly smile. “At least compared to you Yankees.”
“Yankees? You’re in the South.” I laughed.
“What else is inappropriate about the book? Now I’m interested. It can’t only be a few swear words.”
“No, it’s not just that. It’s…” I hesitated for a moment as I realized I was about to bring up the topic of sex with Adam Kincaid. What the hell, I thought. I should be matter-of-fact about it. He had a girlfriend and would never want anything with me. I could hide I thought he was hot, so I shrugged. “Holden, the main character…he’s a little sexually frustrated.”
His eyes twinkled, and it felt as if my words hung in the air. I wanted to squirm in my seat. ‘Sexually frustrated’—like me checking out Adam Kincaid.
His proper upbringing showed again as he sidestepped the issue, yet he smirked. “That sounds like an adventurous book to be on an American high school syllabus.”
“Like I said—it’s considered an American classic.” I laughed. “I guess some things are sacred.”
“But of course.” The gleam appeared in his eye again, and he turned toward me in his seat. “Teenage sexual frustration is sort of a rite of passage, if you will.”
There went the good-English-boy manners out the window. His tone, the look in his eye, his body language—was he flirting with or taunting me? I decided the former was impossible, and if the latter, I wasn’t going to back down. With two parents who were lawyers, debate was a family routine.
“A rite of passage? More like a biological fact, isn’t it?” I asked, casually clicking my pen. I raised a brow. “Especially for guys.”
“You’re right about that,” he said with a grin.


Even before she graduated from law school, Mary Whitney knew she wasn’t cut out to be a real lawyer. Drawn to politics, she’s spent her career as an organizer, lobbyist, and nonprofit executive. Nothing piques her interest more than a good political scandal or romance, and when she stumbled upon writing, she put the two together. A born Midwesterner, naturalized Texan, and transient resident of Washington, D.C., Mary now lives in Northern California with her two daughters and real lawyer husband.
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