Firstly, I think the author deserves a big round of applause for tackling such a sensitive subject with tact and grace. Suicide is, naturally, a very emotive subject and I think it took a lot of bravery to write this story. Interestingly, I found that the romance side of the story (and it’s very romantic!) didn’t detract from, or lessen the impact of the tragedies or the mystery that surrounded them.
I think the reason for this is the way the story was told; it switched between Paige’s current life on the ranch, and the months leading up to her being sent there. At the beginning of the book, Paige is this emaciated, nervy thing suffering psychologically and physically from the tragedy that hit her school and as the story on the ranch progresses she gets healthier and happier. Conversely, as the story of the suicides and her home life unfold in the flashbacks, everything gets worse and worse. It got to the point where I was looking forward to the Now chapters (on the ranch) and kind of dreading the Then chapters (back in California), looking through the gaps in my fingers and thinking, ‘Oh GOD, what’s going to happen now??’ Everything, her school life and her home life, basically turns to toxic waste.
Speaking of toxic, Paige makes some pretty awful decisions, romance-wise. The horrible, toxic, emotionally-barren relationship with her stepbrother (I know!) made my skin crawl, but at no point did I put the book down and think, ‘Nuh-uh. That wouldn’t happen.’ The author did a really good job of showing how grief-and-guilt-stricken Paige was around this time, so while the relationship was really skeevey, it always felt believeable.
Again, this acts as a really good counterpoint to the events in Wyoming and Paige’s blossoming friendship with Jake, a cowboy on her dad’s ranch. He was so lovely and kind to Paige and really helped her find her way again. Which reminds me: I have some rapidly-forming plans to go out to Wyoming (a place that until I googled it earlier today, I could not have placed accurately on a map) and find myself a nice cowboy!
The ending of the book was wrapped up well. I’m a bit of a sucker for a neatly-tied-up HEA, and this book certainly delivered on this front.
All in all, I thought Paint My Body Red was a pretty good read and definitely worth checking out for those long cosy evenings now the nights are starting to draw in.
I was sent a copy of Paint My Body Red in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Entangled Teen!