River Thomas was born a wild card. Her mother left before River hit puberty, and her alcoholic father raised her to have the best poker face in the city, but when he dies unexpectedly, River’s already dangerous lifestyle spirals out of control. Six months sober, she relapses, and the resulting bender ends with her on the run from a guy looking to settle a score.
She wants to be better–needs to be better–before she ends up like her dad. The road leads her to Sun Valley, Montana, where she checks herself into a rehab center. But before her first night, she decides to go for a last hurrah, and the beautiful stranger at the bar is just what the doctor ordered.
She leaves before sunrise, and starts her ninety-day program, still thinking of his face. But her last hurrah with the guy of her dreams is also a counselor and extremely off-limits.
Their attraction is too strong to ignore, and soon she finds herself gambling with the one thing she never thought she would—her heart.
Review: If there is one characteristic I have come to expect from Zoraida Cordova’s On the Verge series, it is that the female main character has plenty of dynamite.
Readers expecting a wishy-washy type woman unable to speak her own mind or incapable of handling life’s challenges will certainly be surprised by River Thomas, the focus of Life on the Level, Cordova’s third installment in this series. River is a little bit on the snarky side, already having dealt with more than her share of life’s disappointments. Nothing quite prepares her for what was supposed to be a one-night stand…and ends up popping back up in the most unexpected place like her rehab center.
Chris Hutcherson is the type of man who wants to help others out of the difficult spots they have worked themselves into, particularly when it comes to substance abuse. The fact that he finally knows the identity of the woman who shared a drunken evening of passion just complicates matters to the extreme. In order for River to accept his help, she’s going to have to not only swallow her pride, but toss some of her stubbornness to the wayside.
This is a story that is filled with hope in the midst of trying to fight the cycle of addiction. While that part of the storyline is playing out, the author has several other plot twists to keep the reader interested. It’s kind of ironic that River can actually get herself into trouble without needing anyone else’s help. One of the most significant quotes comes during a conversation with Chris: “I’m the thing that you get when a train and a semitruck collide. I am who I am, and, you know what? Maybe that’s not so bad.”
Together, with the help of an interesting case of characters, River and Chris deal with the ups and downs of the rehab journey. Full of bumps and detours, it proved to be an enjoyable experience. As the third book in the series, this can be read as a standalone.