Left Drowning by Jessica Park

Left DrowningLeft Drowning by Jessica Park
Published by: Skyscape on July 16, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
Source: BookExpo America
Buy on AmazonBook Details

What does it take to rise from life's depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn't expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she's been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family's traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

Oh boy. Strap yourselves in, guys. This is going to be one crazy—and slightly ranty—review.

Seriously though. If you don’t like ranty reviews, don’t read this. And I just want to say that I love the author to bits. I only met her for about 2 minutes, but she seems like a really nice woman and I seriously hope more than anything that she doesn’t read this because it would kind of hurt my soul.

Let’s start off with my overall enjoyment (or lack thereof) of Left Drowning:

Left Drowning by Jessica Park - Enjoyment Graph

I started off reading Left Drowning hopeful. I thought it would be the shining light of a hot, romantic, contemporary romance that would save me from a reading slump. How wrong I was.

If you’re not interested in my rage-y recap of the plot, skip down to my conclusion.

This section contains mild UNMARKED SPOILERS. I sort of recap about 65-75% of the plot. I don’t reveal the big twist at the end, but there are still some minor plot spoilers in there. If you don’t want any spoilers, skip down to my conclusion.

Left Drowning almost immediately takes a bad turn: insta-love. As soon as the troubled, depressed, self-critical Blythe meets Chris, she feels an “inexplicable attraction towards him.” Red flag, red flag! But you know what, I decided to deal with it. At this point, I was fairly warmed up to both Blythe and Chris, so I thought I’d just suck it up and deal with the insta-love, thinking that would be the worst of it. But nope, I was wrong again; the worst was yet to come.

“Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris.”
Blythe, page 127

Chris and Blythe are friends, despite her super hot attraction towards him. They’re polite and courteous. Then one night, they have a crazy, random, make out/grope session. Chris makes it clear that they’ve gone too far and can’t do that again, but Blythe is amped the fuck up. She’s so hot and ready for him and she’s OBSESSED with him. All she can think about is Chris, Chris, Chris. For now, Chris is fairly absent and adrift. I keep hearing from Blythe that she’s friends with Chris and he’s so amazing, but Chris is never on the fucking page. Where is he? Who is he? What is his personality? I have no idea. The only thing I learned about him is that Chris never wants to get married. He doesn’t believe in marriage, he thinks it’s stupid, and he believes that if two people love each other they don’t need a ceremony to prove it.

Fast forward a few weeks, which is actually like one chapter (that’s the other thing, I expected each chapter to be a few days at most, but suddenly I’m being told that WEEKS/MONTHS have gone by.. wat) and Blythe jumps Chris in a hotel room. Chris goes:

I can’t be your boyfriend Blythe. I’m not boyfriend material.

To which Blythe responds:

I never said I wanted you to be my boyfriend. NOW GET THAT COCK INSIDE OF ME!

Disclaimer: above quotes have been paraphrased. Not exact quotes.

Cue 5 days of sex sex sex over Christmas break. And as she reaches her final orgasm, she comes to a realization: she’s in love with Chris. Obviously it’s not just because he made her climax for 5 days straight. There’s true love there. Let’s ignore the fact that they haven’t said as much as 2 words to each other, because obviously that’s not important.

I can feel my orgasm start, and the sensation is so intense that it’s nearly enough to make me cry. I let it wash over me while I writhe against him like I’m never going to see him again.
And then I realize what has happened between us tonight.
We just fell in love.
Pages 244-245

After their sexual escapade, in which Blythe transformed from a virgin to a sex addict willing to fuck a plant, Blythe and Chris return to university.. where Chris starts ignoring her. He pulls away and flat out doesn’t exist for like 100 pages. Blythe tells herself she’s okay with this because they never agreed to a relationship and she just treasures the moments they spent together naked.

A few months later, she learns that Chris has a girlfriend and has been dating her ever since they got back to university after Christmas. DRAAAAMA! At this point, I hated both characters. On the one hand, I’m mad at Blythe. She literally FLIPS A BITCH, as if she had some sort of claim to Chris even though they weren’t dating. They’re not a couple, and yet she’s in a jealous rage. She’s the one who said she didn’t want him to be her boyfriend, so she has no right to flip the fuck out. But on the other hand… I also hate Chris. WHAT THE BLOODY FUCKS?? During their 5 days of hot and heavy sex, both characters were like “Omg our connection! Omg our love!! YES YES YES!” Chris was obviously into Blythe in a relationship way; and Blythe was obviously into Chris. So why the fuck does he go find another woman?? I’ll tell you why. Because apparently Blythe is “too much” for Chris. She’s too intense. She’s too amazing. He loves her too much. So naturally, he must find another woman. (Yes, he actually said things like that.)

BUT WAIT! That’s not all. Not only is he dating another woman, but he is now ENGAGED to her. That’s right, engaged. So apparently he wasn’t against the idea of marriage at all, despite his earlier claim. I guess he just didn’t want marriage with Blythe.

Now keep in mind that Blythe and Chris have had nothing but sex at this point. They have had no real relationship, they have barely exchanged words other than like, “I’m here for you,” “You’re safe,” “Get your cock inside of me.” But despite this, Blythe is in love with him. So when she finds out about his engagement, she goes into a jealous, crying rage. She will never love again! She will never sleep with another man! She is doomed to be heartbroken forever and ever and ever because her one love escaped her!

Around graduation time, Blythe and Chris have one last teary goodbye in which they kiss (yes he technically cheated on his fiancée just then) and he admits to loving her so, so much. But don’t worry, he’s still going to marry his fiancée. (WTF?)

Fast forward one year.

Yes, the book did that, I am not shitting you.

One year later, Blythe is still in mourning over Chris, her long lost love. She hasn’t dated another guy; she refuses to even look at other men. Because… Chris. Oh, Chris.

At this point I’m actually bored even writing this, so I’ll speed things up. View Spoiler »

Conclusion (no spoilers from this point)

Throughout my entire read of Left Drowning I could just feel myself not clicking with it. Blythe was in love with Chris before she’d barely spoken to him. And throughout the ENTIRE book they barely speak at all because Chris is “pulling away” for 90% of it View Spoiler » . The whole book just left me with a huge sense of “WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK??” Why does Blythe love Chris so much? I don’t know. How is she still thinking about him after not seeing him for an entire year? I don’t know. All they’d had was sex and she told him about how her parents died. That’s it! There weren’t long hours of conversation, there was no “falling in love” phase. It was literally 5 nights of sex and then her realizing that she loves him. Because of the sex? I don’t know. The sex was the only time when Chris came alive. There he had personality. But outside of the sex? He was an empty shell that was barely even in the book!

And then there’s the fact that Blythe never seemed “special” to me. She didn’t have that much personality. And yes Chris and his family are OBSESSED with her. She’s “amazing” and “the best thing that ever happened to [them]”! What? How? Why? She doesn’t even talk that much!

Blythe herself just gets progressively annoying throughout the book. First, when Chris starts View Spoiler »

Then there’s the fact that she has a very “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. I’ll let this quote speak for itself:

Seriously, my dear sister, what’s with all the travel-size liquor bottles?”
“So what? I had an impulse purchase at the liquor store. You’re driving, I thought I’d have a drink.” I pour the mini gin into my half-empty bottle of lukewarm tonic water and take a straw from my purse. [..] “What I’m doing is illegal and stupid. So don’t ever drink in a car.”
“I don’t plan to.”
“And you shouldn’t be driving with a passenger who is drinking.”
“I know that!”
Page 298

Blythe tells her brother to never drive with a passenger who is drinking, WHILE SHE’S POURING HERSELF A DRINK IN THE CAR! So basically, “Don’t illegally drink in the car, or drive with people who are, except for this one time” ???

Then there was this whole thing about Blythe complaining that it was sooo embarrassing that she can’t run a marathon! Poor Blythe.

“I can do a half marathon, but not a whole fucking one. [..] Don’t tell anyone. It’s embarrassing.”
Blythe, page 312

So to everyone out there who can’t run a marathon (me!): you should be embarassed!!

Ugh.. just.. this book. The romance was honestly horrible. Because: there was no romance. It honestly didn’t exist. I felt zero love between Chris and Blythe. Sure they had some sexual chemistry, but nothing they did built up to love. It all screamed “instant”.

I wanted to DNF this book so badly, but I didn’t, because I wanted to hold out for the “big twist” at the end. But, that was also a let down because I honestly guessed the entire twist ever since the first “flashback” thing at the beginning. It didn’t come as a shock to me at all. So that was ruined.

If you can click with this book, and somehow not hate Chris for being an annoying douchebag, I think you might like this book. I feel like a lot of the pieces are there, it just didn’t work for me at all. It’s supposed to be emotional and intense, it is pretty hot, the sex is good… but god. Put it all together and none of it worked for me (except maybe the hot sex scenes). Honestly, there’s still a lot I have to say about the book (especially with regards to the side characters), but I can’t get past the big fat asshole that is Chris.

The Verdict


Photo of Ashley
I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

Don't miss my next post!

Sign up to get my blog posts sent directly to your inbox (plus exclusive store discounts!).

You might like these


    1. Yeah I totally agree. I mean, this book was all about “fate” and “destiny” and stuff, so I guess that was the reason.. but that’s not reason enough for me!

    1. Yeah I get really upset when I have to negatively review a book by an author I’ve met! 🙁

  1. Great review! I have also been in a book slump… Guess I won’t try to get out of it with this one, lol
    And I love that you gave plenty of examples backing up why you didn’t like the book, not just a rant.
    ( ? ³?)?

  2. I’ve been wary to try a book in the “New Adult” genre because every review I’ve read for one reads like this. It seems to me that “New Adult” is just code for sexy times. Where’s the depth?

    Kristin recently posted: Armchair BEA: Wrap-Up
    1. There are actually a ton of great New Adult books with plenty of depth. A few I love are:

      * The Crash series by Nicole Williams
      * Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
      * Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
      * The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski
      * Back To You by Priscilla Glenn
      * Easy by Tammara Webber

      There are a lot of Young Adult books without depth, and so there are plenty of New Adult books without depth as well. You just have to find the right ones that work for you!

  3. EEK! I got this book for review on netgalley because I thought it would be intense & emotional. Now i see I will not be falling into this one anytime soon >.< I hate it when there is inta-love as intense as in here. I LOVED the rant and think it was appropriately ranty ;D Chris sounds like…yeah. No words there. I really don't like NA books where sex is the "LOVE" definer in a relationship because it doesn't feel like love at all. Great Review Ashley!

    lisseth @ Read-A-holicZ recently posted: Cover Reveal: Jenny's Blue Velvet by Angela Carlie
    1. Thanks Lisseth! Yeah I honestly didn’t see a relationship here outside the sex and physical attraction.. that drove me nuts!

  4. Yikes! I’ll make sure to avoid this particular novel, as it sounds like little more than a re-imagining of Beautiful Disaster. I am so incredibly sick of the plain, ordinary heroine who, for whatever reason, is treated like the second coming and put on a pedestal by her romantic interest. Don’t even get me started on insta-love. It sounds like these two deserved each other because they both seem insufferable.

  5. Bahahahaha This review is so full of win! I almost choked laughing lol

    “a sex addict willing to fuck a plant” = one of my fave parts.

    Wow I saw this on NG and requested it but kinda hoping I don’t get approved now, it sounded a lot better than this, I don’t think I’d connect with this book at all, it just seems far too gratuitous!

    FAB review Ashley!

    1. LOL thank you Danielle! 😀 I’m bummed because I imagined this being one of those amazing, heart-wrenching love stories (with a bit of hot sex thrown in). Unfortunately the “amazing, heart-wrenching love story” bit never quite happened.

  6. I didn’t realize this was by the same author as the Flat Out books until yesterday. I saw this on NetGalley and almost requested it, good thing I didn’t because based on your review I would have hated it! BTW, this review is awesome 🙂
    I saw the other reviews on Goodreads and they are all raving about it, 5 staring the shit out of it. Nowadays it seems like if a book has a lot of sex then it gets 5 stars.
    And I HATE when a girl goes from a virgin to a damn cat in heat!

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Review: Off Sides by Sawyer Bennett!
  7. Ahh no now I feel bad for dragging you over to that signing table when I saw the cover lol >.< (I feel like I dragged you over to a lot of random signings whenever I saw a pretty cover) But the characters sound so annoying and the romance is all like insta-lovey and OMG Blythe is such a hypocrite with that drinking scene. Chris and her sound so infuriating I definitely think I'm going to be passing this one up, fantastic review, Ashley! 😀 (At first I typed BEA buddy out of habit lol) But you and the author had an awesome bonding moment 😀

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain*** recently posted: Tuney Tuesday: Heart Attack by Demi Lovato
    1. LOL it’s okay! I thought the book sounded really good when I read the synopsis. And I feel bad because the author was sooo sweet!!! *cries*

    1. I don’t worry about reviewing books coming back to haunt me. Maybe I should, but for some reason I’m not. Maybe I would be more worried if my whole blog was dedicated to erotica reviews, but it’s not. If an employer were to Google me they would probably find my book blog, and on the surface that’s just what it would look like: a book blog. Not an erotica book blog, or a book blog riddled with explicit content.. just a book blog. They might find an explicit review 1 in 25 or 30, but most of them aren’t.

      I don’t know if that makes a difference in an employer’s perspective, but for some reason it makes a difference in my head.. lol.

      1. Thanks for getting what I meant 🙂 I dunno if I’m just overly paranoid (I probably am) but I’ve been careful about reviewing or mentioning a lot of “adult content” on my blog. I don’t read a ton of it… but I DO like that there are more books available and getting popular with sex in them. So I want to promote ones I like. And be a bit snarky about the ones I don’t, heh.

        I agree with your reasoning, though. Might employ it myself 🙂

        Leeanna @ Leeanna.me recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Infinite by Jodi Meadows
        1. And if it helps at all, I did have my book blog on my resume for a job application, and they brought it up in the interview, but didn’t mention the explicit content at all… And I got the job!

  8. Can I just say thank you?? I have seen nothing but glowing, raving reviews for this. I hated it. I started to think maybe there was something wrong with me, if everyone else loved it–but I absolutely did not like it. At all.
    Blythe was just not sympathetic. At all. I really tried too because of how much I love Flat Out Love. But the insta-love and insta-friendship and then the melodramatic (sorry, but they were) plot twists read like fan fiction written by a fourteen year old girl.
    Just so disappointed.

  9. Oh no! I just bought this for my kindle the other day! I hate insta-love. Seems like most books are turning to that nowadays. Thanks for a great review! 🙂 I’ll definitely be putting this book on the back burner until I’m up for giving it a chance. Lol

    Amanda recently posted: Beat the Heat Readathon
  10. Wait, people don’t fall in love based off their orgasm quota? I’ve been doing things wrong…

    Haha! Great review! I can definitely understand why you had issues with this book, and I honestly think if I ever read it I’d have the same exact problems. Really, if a book cannot have characters you can somewhat get behind and care about, then there’s really no hope… especially when there’s barely anything else going on. I’m sorry this one didn’t work out for you, but at least I know if I ever want to try venturing into NA (which I haven’t yet) to pass on this one. 😛

    Asti (A Bookish Heart) recently posted: Bookish Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Recent Posts

    Random Posts