The full title is Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One (King 5).
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 parts of the King series (though I must admit that I never quite made it to Part 4, the second part of Bear’s and Thea’s story), my curiosity had definitely been piqued about Preppy’s story, King’s sidekick from the earlier books. Because of this interconnected background, however, I suggest that you at least read or listen to the first two books in this series (if not all four) to get a good sense of the setting of this story before starting Preppy. Additionally, to get Preppy’s full story, you will need to commit to listening to Book 6 (Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two) – and possibly book 7/Part 3, out next week in print.
Interestingly, this book had a slightly different feel to it than the previous ones; it’s not quite as dark in its detailed descriptions or as twisty (well, at least not until the very end – be ready for one zinger of a cliffhanger). That said, as the hero of this book is a drug dealer and the heroine a junkie who has suffered horrible abuse to feed her addiction and has serious thoughts of committing suicide, it’s definitely what I would call a gray romance. While not quite as dark as some other books in this romance subgenre, it’s still not for the faint of heart either, or for those seeking a plain vanilla contemporary romance. In particular, please note that the background of this heroine includes extreme domestic violence and rape (though not by the hero), and the hero also experienced physical abuse in his younger years. With that warning in place, I will move on to the setting.
Samuel Clearwater (“Preppy”) has had a less than ideal upbringing, suffering terrible abuse at the hands of his own family, until King, his best friend, rescues him and makes him his second in command in his somewhat unique, criminal empire: together they run a pot business out of elderly women’s houses, where they grow their stash. This story picks up shortly after King is arrested, leaving Preppy holding down the fort, as well as trying to help King win back custody of his daughter.
He stumbles onto an attempted robbery of one of his grow houses. When he digs a little deeper, he discovers that one of the thieves, a junkie with a bad heroin addiction whose name is Andrea and who goes by “Dre”, is actually the granddaughter of the elderly home owner. When he tracks her down following the theft, he finds her on the verge of committing suicide, an attempt that he successfully prevents. As Preppy and Dre get to know one another, they feel a cautious but nonetheless intense attraction to one another. Fueling this connection is the fact that Preppy tries to help Dre come clean – he even offers her a very lucrative incentive if she does a slightly illegal job for him, something that will help King get his daughter back. But will Dre agree to his terms? Moreover, can Dre successfully overcome her addiction? Given that the hero’s a drug dealer and the heroine a junkie, and they are constantly in dangerous situations, could there possibly be a HEA under the circumstances?
Lance Greenfield and Kirsten Leigh narrate Preppy in the typical New Adult style, with Mr. Greenfield narrating the chapters from Preppy’s/other male characters’ points of views and Ms. Leigh the ones from Dre’s point of view. I must admit that the choice of narrators for this book had me in a bit of a quandary at first, because I had become accustomed to Molly Glenmore and Rob Shapiro who narrated the previous books. In particular, I found the switch to a new male narrator difficult to process because I had begun to associate Mr. Shapiro’s Preppy voice from his appearances in the earlier books with Preppy’s character. Mr. Shapiro gave Preppy a sort of sidekick, crazy/goofy voice (which made me think of Jon Cryer (“Ducky”) from the 1980s hit movie Pretty in Pink) which was perfect for this character who, though a drug dealer, is always cracking jokes and wears bow ties on an everyday basis, so I had a difficult time accepting Mr. Greenfield’s more serious voice for Preppy. Perhaps if I had never listened to Mr. Shapiro’s rendition, it might have worked for me, but with that perfect voicing of his character in my head, I just never was able to believe that this was the same person.
Ms. Leigh’s performance wasn’t as much an issue for me to accept because Dre is a brand new character and the passages she narrates are from her perspective. Ms. Leigh does a fine job with all of the typical narration elements I look for, including differentiation of characters, gender appropriate intonations, pacing and communication of emotion. Therefore, I did not have as much of an issue with bringing in a new narrator for Dre’s parts (though of course there are a small number of parts that she had to recreate in the dialogues that relate to prior characters that I had already associated with Ms. Glenmore’s rendition of the earlier books).
All in all, I enjoyed Preppy though perhaps not as much as the previous books – it wasn’t what I would have expected from Preppy’s story. That said, this book ends in one big, twisty, cliffhanger, so perhaps it’s difficult to judge this story without having listened to the full series.
Narration: Lance Greenfield B-/Kirsten Leigh B+
Book Content: B
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Fighting/Domestic Violence (including rape, but not by the hero)
Genre: Dark Romance
Publisher: T.M. Frazier
Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One was provided to AudioGals for a review.