Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…
… If Darcy Barrett hadn’t met her dream man when she was eight years old, the rest of the male population wouldn’t be such a let-down. No one measures up to Tom Valeska, aka the best man on Earth, not in looks, brain or heart. Even worse is the knowledge that her twin brother Jamie saw him first, and claimed him forever as his best friend.
Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. One percent of Tom has had to be enough for Darcy, and her adoration has been sustained by his shy kindness. And if she’s honest, his tight t-shirts.
Now Darcy’s got three months left to get her life together before her twin insists on selling the tumble-down cottage they inherited from their grandmother. By night, she’s working in a seedy bar, shooting down lame pickups from bikers. By day, she’s sewing underwear for her best friend and wasting her award-winning photography skills on website shots of pens and novelty mugs. She’s enjoying living the messy life, and a glass of wine or ten… until that one night, when she finds a six-foot-six perfect package on her porch.
Tom’s here, he’s bearing power tools—and he’s single for the first time in a decade.
As a house flipper extraordinaire, Tom has been dispatched by Jamie to give the cottage a drastic facelift that will result in a ton of cash. Darcy doesn’t appreciate Tom’s unsentimental approach to knocking down walls, and he really, really doesn’t approve of her current burnout boyfriend. They can’t be in the same room together without sparks flying- and it’s not the faulty wiring. One bedroom wall separates them at night, and even that’s looking flimsy.
Will Tom ever see Darcy as anything other than a little-sister obstacle to get around? And can she stand up to her most formidable opponent—her twin? This time around, she’s determined to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers, and he’s never managed to say no to her yet…
Reading romance is all fun and games until you finish the book and you’re like, “I need something romantic to happen to me like, right fucking now.”
The immense healing power of a good romance can never be overstated. Granted, I am not really a trained reader of romance. Usually, whenever I stumble upon one, I’m left feeling dissatisfied with the quality of my enamorment. I think “oh, that was ridiculous” or “eh, that was lame”. With very few exceptions, I tend not to seek out adult contemporary romance. However, I don’t know how I always forget how much I actually enjoy reading it, because every time I pick up a good one, it’s like I’m seeing the sun after a lifetime of shadows. Plus, I LOVED The Hating Game and I was left keen to read every book Sally Thorne has ever written.
So, what’s this book about?
Darcy’s heart was a silvered box where she kept what little of Tom Valeska she could call hers.
When Tom shows up on her doorstep after Darcy’s twin brother enlists his help to make over their late grandmother’s cottage and they have to spend three months in the same vicinity, Darcy’s heart gives a lurch of savage hope and a pleasure rises in her so old and sharp it feels like pain. Tom and Darcy have a checkered history as expansive as the years they’ve spent apart—two creatures tied to separate cords, instead of to each other. Now that Tom is single for the first time in almost a decade, Darcy is determined to scrape whatever morsels of companionship she can out of this.
And so they start tiptoeing around each other; their domestic harmony closer to a sort of rehearsal, as if they were trying to remember the trick of it. Their connection is instant and electric—their attraction only burnished by years of distance. And while Darcy is hoping she wouldn’t be put to the awkward necessity of explaining her abrupt departure years ago—which was the reef upon which their friendship had crashed, Tom is doing his best to quiet how much he held it against her, the blame roiling in him.
Darcy has always been the weaver who could lead Tom over and under into her design, only this time he can’t trust her to have him in her grip again and not clench him until he died.
“What do I get in return?”
“You know, heart, soul. The usual.”
“Oh Darce,” he sighs in a voice like I’ve learned nothing. “You’re messing with me again.”
Every page of 99 Percent Mine is crammed full of everything you could want out of a good romance, and more. But then again, friends-to-lovers relationships fuel my life force. Give me two people who have spent so much time together that they’d seen the best and worst of one another and had been impressed by either. Give me the accidental brush of a shoulder or the spark of a stolen glance that take place of a kiss. The cup of coffee sipped from the same place on its rim that stands in for an embrace. The seemingly throwaway comments that are steeped in history and mean so much more.
Watch me explode into tiny pieces of heart-shaped confetti when it’s especially a second-chance-romance. There’s nothing I relish more than two people whose lives shot out in different directions—the roads so mazy and winding until each has passed out of view of the other—not knowing that all along, they were headed in a glorious, relentless glissade on a straight path for each other. Give me two people who experienced enough personal growth when they were apart to set aside their pride and eventually realize that, separately, each had been like a cry into empty space, no walls to throw an echo back. Just give me characters suffering over the profundity of their love for years of angst-ridden pining, only for them to later melt—flesh and breath and heart and hope—to nothing in each other’s arms.
Me? A hopeless romantic? Sadly, yes, exhaustively.
“Friends and family are the only ones I have a chance of keeping forever. And that’s what I want. To keep you, forever.”
He nods like I haven’t said something too intense or strange. “That’s what I want, too.”
“We need to be eighty years old, hanging out on a cruise ship together, laughing our asses off about this one day. Hey Tom, remember that time when our young bodies tried to fuck up everything? Your wife will be there, and she’s someone I like, because otherwise I can’t have you forever.”
Darcy’s inner monologue is also hilarious. She’s smart and witty and always in that space where everything she is about to say makes sense until the moment she says it. Furthermore, she has short hair, a nipple piercing and wears leather pants, and so the important question here is: how the hell do I rewrite this book and make her MY girlfriend? Boys always get the girl. It’s MY turn to get the girl. Darcy also has a heart condition, and she’s grown tired of everyone treating her as if she is as fragile as glass, connected to the world by a delicate filament that threatens to go slack at any moment. Darcy is intent on living life on her terms, in all of its glorious uncertainty.
Tom is sweet and gentle and hard-working—his heart always fixed like a compass point to buying a house for his single mom. I experienced a flutter of sympathy for him, to be torn between loyalties to Darcy whom he’s always loved, and her twin brother and his best friend, Jamie, who would never approve of their relationship. Tom is just all around a nice dude, and I can’t shake off the sense that we could have had more of him (I wanted him to talk about his mom, his childhood, what he’s accomplished in the years he and Darcy were apart).
It’s kind of strange, really, to read a book where the only criticism I can sensibly level is that I wanted more.
Overall, this was another total knockout by Sally Thorne!
Arc kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchanage for an honest review!