Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1
Published by Atria Books on December 11th, 2012
Shelve It: Goodreads
Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.
Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.
Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.
*I received a copy of Ten Tiny Breaths from the publisher for review purposes.
When Ten Tiny Breaths wasn’t focused on the budding romance between Kacey and Trent, when Ten Tiny Breaths took a breath (ha!) and focused on the meaningful relationships Kacey was building with a fantastic cast of secondary characters, I couldn’t read it fast enough. But every time I began to actually empathize with Kacey, Ten Tiny Breaths took two steps back by encouraging Kacey to rely on a guy to help fix her.
Having spent years building up emotional walls in order to be able to fake it through the day, Kacey was a beaten and broken protagonist that I immediately pitied. Her determination to do right by her sister, even when that meant she would be sacrificing her own future and potential happiness, made my heart break for her. And had her relationship with her sister, Livie, and her friendship with Storm been the focus, I would have been calling Ten Tiny Breaths an instant favourite. I loved watching both Storm and Kacey move through their general mistrust into something that wasn’t quite just acquaintances, into friendship. I love that Storm saw through Kacey’s ice exterior to the girl crying out for help underneath, and that she didn’t give up on her. I was genuinely moved by their friendship and all of their scenes together had me either laughing or crying – or both! I would have loved to have seen Kacey begin the healing process with Storm’s help, but unfortunately, Kacey allowed herself to feel like she needed a man to heal her instead.
From the get-go, I didn’t understand Kacey’s strong physical reactions to Trent. While I didn’t blame her for appreciating a gorgeous chunk of man meat, I felt like her being struck silent and dumb was a little too extreme, especially considering her constant inner monologue that berated her reactions to him – Kacey, according to Kacey, didn’t let herself be affected by a guy in that way. I was cautiously hopeful, however, that Trent’s personality would be as jaw-dropping as his chiseled eight-pack (because six wasn’t enough?), and looked forward to learning more about him. Unfortunately, by the end of Ten Tiny Breaths, we don’t get to learn much about Trent. And what we do learn, is scary stuff.
From their initial meeting, Trent was intense. He devoured Kacey with his eyes and he let her know that he was watching; and then he stalked her for the next few weeks. Literally: he casually showed up at her work, every night for several weeks, just to watch her bartend. What bothered me the most about this, despite the obvious stalker warning signs, was Kacey’s reaction. Instead of being a little frightened or a little weirded out, she commented on how well she was getting to know him. Um, what?
I didn’t appreciate Trent’s assumptions about Kacey or her past, and I found it more than a little odd that he acted like he knew something was wrong with her, and she never once questioned how he seemed to know her so well. While I allowed for some obliviousness on Kacey’s part, considering she was living under a perpetual cloud of grief, I never understood exactly what it was that Trent had said, or done, that made her decide to let her guard down. It made his assumptions about her, and her level of brokenness, seem like a dirty and cheap way to pick her up.
As for the big twist at the end? I called it before I actually picked up Ten Tiny Breaths. While the lack of surprise didn’t bother me (I was actually pretty psyched to have been right, for a change), I’m not sure how I feel about Kacey’s reaction to it, or her ultimate decision. Part of me feels like the twist was completely unnecessary because it cheapened Kacey’s emotional journey to recovery and turned it, instead, into something twisted and disturbing for shock value. The other part of me, the traitorous part of me, was happy with the happily-ever-after ending and even got a little teary when I thought things were going to end differently.
So it’s with mixed emotions that I write this review, as I both enjoyed and disliked parts of Ten Tiny Breaths. Overall, I think my experience leans towards the positive, as I found Ten Tiny Breaths extremely readable, and I really did come to care for it’s characters. While I won’t be rushing out to buy the sequel, it’s definitely something I’ll be keeping an eye out for!
Oh, but I still don’t get the ten tiny breaths thing?