Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.
But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.
*Good is the first book in the Too Good series.*
Now who wants to know what Mark was thinking during the red wine scene? 😉 This happens to be one of our favorite scene’s from the book…
“When do you think your parents will catch on to these fake community service projects?” Mark asked, sitting on the couch.
“Never,” Cadence replied. She lay on her stomach on the floor, knees bent, gently knocking her feet together. She flipped the pages of her favorite magazine. “They adore Avery. They think she’s a saint or something. Ruth or Esther from the Bible.”
Mark smirked, then leaned forward to get a good look at the page. “‘Ten Ways to Turn up the Heat in Bed’,” he read aloud. “Scandalous.”
“And informative. Where do you think women learn all their tricks?”
Mark was busy reading Tip #4.
“Shh. I’m reading,” he said.
Cadence closed the magazine.
“Hey! What did you do that for? I was learning,” he said.
“You really care to know about this stuff?” Cadence asked.
Mark tossed his ungraded papers on the coffee table and plopped down beside her.
“I find you utterly fascinating, Cadence. I want to learn everything about you and how your brain works and what you like to read and learn and all the stuff that makes you so very female.”
He watched the pink color her cheeks. She grinned and opened her magazine.
“Feathers,” she said.
“Apparently feathers are where it’s at,” Cadence replied. “Seductive and goose-bump inducing.”
“Go on,” Mark said, peeling himself off the floor. He walked to the kitchen while he listened to Cadence prattle on about G-spots and where to locate them. He smiled to himself. He loved to listen to her talk, and boy did she talk! Her voice was calming and safe, reminding him of a time long ago when he was happy. When he loved life. Before the pain set in, rooting itself deep, turning him hard and unyielding.
He shook his head to rid the thought. He wanted to focus on her voice and all the silly things she said. She was so ridiculous half the time, and he couldn’t get enough of it He thought he’d become addicted to it—her silliness—and he wanted to take it apart piece by piece and fit it inside all the cracks and tears of his heart. It could heal him. She could heal him.
“Red okay?” he called to her.
“Red what?” she called back.
“Wine,” he clarified, shaking his head.
“You’re gonna let me drink wine?” she breathed. There was too much excitement underlying her words, and he thought for a split second that he made a very wrong decision.
Well, yeah, you moron. You’re feeding alcohol to a minor, his conscience said. If you fuck her tonight . . .
I’m not gonna fuck her! Mark answered. He thought for a moment. I wanna fuck her . . .
He walked to the living room with two glasses filled halfway with wine. He noted Cadence’s eagerness and rolled his eyes.
“You’re spending the night. I have no intention of taking advantage of you. And I won’t let you get crazy.” He handed her a glass.
This is what he liked most about Cadence: Nothing was hidden. Nothing was buried. She read like a book, laid out on a table, pages fully in view. It was eagerness for life—a desire in her to experience everything to its fullest. He couldn’t deny that right now, watching her little fingers wrap around the wine glass and the grin spread across her face, that this was everything it meant to be human—to own all of one’s feelings and expectations, and to display them for the world to see. And to not be ashamed.
“And you’re not getting drunk,” Mark added, watching her eyes sparkle.
He observed her taking her first sip. She swallowed and sat for a moment, absorbing the wine’s flavor. She liked it. Immediately. He could tell, and while his thoughts wandered to her mouth and how sweet her tongue must taste coated in wine, she was busy downing her glass like it was water and she’d just run a marathon. He realized too late that her glass was empty. She sat running her tongue over her top teeth. He had no idea why she was doing that.
“Cadence, wine is supposed to be sipped, not guzzled,” he said, chuckling.
She looked at her glass in shock. Then confusion. Then she looked up at Mark and asked sweetly, “May I have another?”
What am I doing? Mark thought. No, Cadence. You can’t have another . . . stop looking at me like that!
He knew what the wine was doing to her tiny body. Already she felt the warmth and rush, her cheeks inflamed, her hair glowing. Her hair glowing? Yes! Her freaking hair was glowing! He knew it was trouble. He knew to tell her no. He also wanted to set her on fire. He wanted to see her reaction. He wanted her to climb on him and kiss him greedily—make his night a beautiful living hell for wanting to fuck her and knowing he couldn’t.
He eyed her curiously. “Yes, Cadence. But will you promise me you’ll sip this time?”
She nodded enthusiastically.
He watched her drink her second glass more slowly. She traced circles on the carpet as she sipped, giggling every now and then. When she was through, she placed the glass on the coffee table and crawled into his lap. Exactly like he knew she would. She tugged on his shirt and asked him to take it off.
“Wow,” she whispered, staring at his bare chest.
“You like?” he asked.
“I like. Very much,” she replied, leaning over to kiss his pecs.
He closed his eyes and focused on her soft lips raining butterfly kisses over his chest.
“Your hair tickles,” he said, lifting her blond locks away from his body. “It’s so soft.” He ran his fingers through it.
Cadence sat up and looked him square in the face.
“I have to tell you something,” she said. “But I don’t wanna scare you.”
“Okay.” Mark couldn’t wait to hear this.
“I’m a vampire,” Cadence replied. She leaned over and sunk her teeth into his neck.
He grunted and pulled her hair, forcing her to look at him.
“Do that again, you little vixen,” he cooed. He felt his instant erection.
“I’m not a vixen. I’m a vampire,” she corrected, and leaned over once more to bite him hard.
Mark growled—not anything scary. More of a deep-set rumble that bubbled up from his chest. An aching, really, to tear her apart gently.
He wrapped her in his arms and laid her on the couch, kissing her lips, then tracing her bottom lip with his tongue. He knew what she’d like to hear.
“Did I do that right?”
She nodded, arching her body to him in some sort of involuntary response, and pulled him down on her again. He kissed her hungrily, sucked the wine from her lips, her tongue. Savored the taste of something that didn’t belong in her mouth. He was bad, and at the moment, he didn’t care.
“I’m ready, Mark,” Cadence said as he kissed her neck.
“I’m not letting you have another glass, Cadence,” Mark replied.
“I’m not talking about wine. I’m talking about love. I’m ready for you to—” There was a pause. “—make love to me.”
And there it was: that beautiful hell he’d anticipated entering from the moment he gave her the wine glass. What he wouldn’t give to see her naked underneath him, squirming against his bare skin, acting like she didn’t want it when she was really just working harder to get closer to him.
Fuck. Me, he thought. “You’ve had too much to drink, so no.”
She pushed him off her and climbed in his lap once more. Now was the impossible moment, he knew. Now was the moment she’d give him some drunken reason for why they should do it. She’d say it through pretty little swollen lips stained pink from wine.
Don’t look at her lips. Don’t look at her lips.
“But listen,” Cadence began. She clutched his hands. “I know it’ll hurt. But maybe it won’t hurt so much now since I’m feeling pretty loosey-goosey. Know what I mean?” She wiggled her eyebrows.
Mark smirked. “I know what you mean.”
“I’m ready to touch it.”
“Touch what?” Like he didn’t know. He sat there waiting to hear the word ‘dick’ or ‘cock’ or ‘penis’ come out of her mouth. He didn’t think she had it in her.
“Mark! Don’t make me say ‘dick’ out loud!” She hung her head. “Oh, drats. I said it.”
Mark burst out laughing. He didn’t know what he liked better: “drats” or “dick.”
“‘Drats’?” he asked. “Who says ‘drats’? Ever?”
“Stop making fun of me, and do me,” Cadence laughed. She grabbed his face and forced him to look her in the eyes.
He liked being trapped between her hands.
“You are the sexiest man alive. In the entire universe. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? I want you to make love to me all night long, you sexy sexy big muscley man.” She leaned over and kissed him sloppily. He smiled as he felt her mouth miss his to kiss the dimple in his cheek. She tried again, this time halfway meeting his lips. It was silly and sweet, and he knew to change the subject before he got swept up in her drunken haze.
“My little Cadence,” he said. He pulled away from her and brushed the hair off her face. “Tell me about your morning routine.”
“Okay!” she squealed. And just like that, she forgot all about the sex she was so desperate to have. “Well, my hair is naturally wavy, but I’m really into straightening it right now. So I have to get up earlier for school to flat-iron it.”
Mark furrowed his brows. “You iron your hair?”
“Uh huh,” Cadence replied. “You’ve never seen a flat iron?”
Mark shook his head.
“Well, I packed it. I’ll show you in the morning.”
He nodded, amused, waiting for the next several words that would tumble out of her mouth.
“It takes a long time ‘cause I’ve got a lot of hair,” she said, grabbing a chunk and lifting it to the side of her head.
“I see,” Mark said. “It’s very beautiful.” He meant it, too. Her hair was probably his favorite thing about her.
She grinned. “I’ve been experimenting with new make-up trends. Specifically eye shadow techniques. So I’ve been allotting myself an extra fifteen minutes in the morning to work on my eyes.”
He stared at her blue irises. “Beautiful eyes.”
“And thank God Mom and Dad finally finished the addition to the house. Now I have my own bathroom and don’t have to share with Ollie.”
She yawned and laid her head on Mark’s shoulder. He’d been waiting for this part, too. He wanted her to fall asleep on him because he wanted to carry her to bed. It made all the sense in the world to protect her. He couldn’t protect the other. But Cadence? He would do everything in his power to take care of her. It was his purpose. It came to him in an instant vision on Highway 28 when he looked at her for the first time. He didn’t know if God was trying to make up for the past. He wasn’t sure God worked that way. But if she was a gift from God, he sure as hell wasn’t passing up on it.
He cradled her against him and walked her to the bedroom. He laid her down, pulling the sheet over her and kissing her temple. She smiled in her sleep, and his heart faltered. Skipped a beat. Irregular and unsettling.
He looked up at the ceiling and whispered, “Don’t you mess this up for me.”
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, S. Walden has managed to do it again. I have officially fallen in love all over again with the best kind of story EVER. Ya know. The kind that are unconventional. The kind that are controversial. The kind that make you weep with want, rejoice in happiness, and question the definition of morals.
Good is a book that will make you want to throw caution to the wind and ignore the nagging ‘mini-you’ on your shoulder telling you what is right and what is wrong. What the true definition of love is (no matter your age). And in the end, you will know that being ‘good’ isn’t what you thought it was all along. Or maybe it is and you just don’t give a flying fuck anymore. Either way, by the end, you will learn that love is sometimes ugly. Sometimes it’s just downright hideous. Sometimes you just learn that taking risks is worth every bit of hurt you’ve endured along the way. Isn’t that what makes love…love?
Oh wow. I just got all philosophical and emotional or some shit there.My apologies. Moving on.
Okay. So let’s begin with Cadence, shall we?
Ah, my frustrating, sweet, confused, Cadence.
I love her. I really, really, really love Cadence. Through and through I just adore her. Cadence is a girl that made one bad decision (one very bad decision) and is having to suffer the consequences. Consequnces in the form of an orange jumpsuit, a nice lengthy stay in a juvenile detention center, and picking up trash alongside the road. But poor Cadence has no clue how bad these consequences are going to get upon walking through those doors to her high school on her first day of senior year. We all know how ruthless teenagers are. How down right awful high school years are. The rumors, the gossip, the glares and stares, and of course, the notes on the lockers and the cold hearted bitches that decide to put a multitude of items in your locker.
Welcome to hell!
A.K.A-Cadence’ senior year.
Now, not only does she have all this bullshit to deal with, but imagine the shock and surprise when you walk into your math class to find
Mr. Midnight in a Perfect World
as your teacher. You will understand that reference once you read it.
Meet. Mark Connelly. A.K.A-Mr. Midnight in a Perfect World!
Now this is where things start to get interesting. Mark is a young (well, not too young-28 years old) math teacher. VERY good looking and the kind of teacher that the guys in class like because he’s cool and laid back, and the girls really like because he’s well…hot!
So while Cadence is having the worst day of her life back at school, Mark (Mr. Connelly) can’t help but notice and try to intervene. It’s obvious that he feels sorry for Cadence. He isn’t blind to what is going on and the way she is being treated. And here he goes and makes things a little more awkward for her by giving her his handkerchief when he finds her crying. Not going to lie, I think this is where I fell in love with Mark Connelly. I mean, come on! The guys carries a handkerchief.
“I don’t mind that you cry into my handkerchief, Cadence.
And so from here on out things slowly progress from a little awkward to well, borderline inappropriate. Okay, I admit it, a lot inappropriate. But still, my heart is like “please let this be going where I want it to”, “please please let this happen”, “oh dear God this better end well”.
I stared at my hands in every class for the rest of the day replaying Mr. Connelly’s ministrations. He had to know it was inappropriate. Why would he touch me like that? And why did I let him? I could have said no. I could have walked away. But I didn’t want to. I wanted him to clean my hands, to say kind things to me, to make me laugh. I realized that Mr. Connelly was one of the nicest men in my life right now. Did he sense that? And was he taking advantage of it?
One of the parts of this book that I will always remember is Cadence and her conversation with the ever enlightening, Fanny. This old woman might just be the smartest individual ever and if I ever need advice of any kind, I know where I am going. No joke, this is what the clever old lady has to say about love. Cadence asks:
Do you think love is a choice or a feeling?
Love comes in all kinds of packages. Some are nearly tied up, and some are messy. It doesn’t mean that the messy ones aren’t every bit as good.”
Let’s get back to Mark and Cadence now, shall we? Well let’s do some analyzing here for a second. Cadence-17 (almost 18) high school senior and has fallen hard for super hot, super sweet, math teacher. Mark- very conflicted, 28 year old math teacher, currently falling for a certain blonde haired beauty that, oh yeah, just so happens to be one of his students. Inappropriate? Hell yes! Love knows no boundaries, people. We know this.
Mark+Cadence= one big beautiful fucking mess that my heart just absolutely craves! NO…wait. Not craves.
I need these two. I need them to be together. I need it!
Honestly, there is just too much that just absolutely can NOT be revealed in my review. There is so much beauty, pain, heartache, and love to be experienced while reading that I promise you, you will be glad I didn’t tell you.
So, what can you expect while reading Good? Pure amazingness. I loved everything about this book. I went through so many emotions through this. 84 to be exact. 😉
Are there many moments of happiness in this book? Hmmm…yes and no. There were times when my heart was so very content that I thought I could seriously stop reading and just have my own little HEA for Mark and Cadence and leave it at that.
“Well, I do a pretty good job of masking my feelings,” Mark admitted. “But my heart was pounding.
“Because you’re beautiful.”
“You’re so much more than average, Cadence. You’re out of this world.”
Are there uncomfortable moments in this book? Hell. Fucking. Yes. Especially the “waxing scene”. Ha! There were times where I swear, if I wasn’t so open and honest and just down right crude, I probably would have been blushing right along with Cadence. The poor girl is the definition of inexperienced. But that is just another reason why I love her.
I was a burned and damaged eighteen-year-old non-virgin having an awkward conversation with the 28-year old man who took my virginity. Yes, I was allowed to be a little snarky.
There were even times when Mr. Midnight in a Perfect world got uncomfortable yet always had the upper hand and let me tell you, I fell even harder for him when he was like this. It was too damn sexy. Almost innocently sexy.
“Look at me,” I demanded. He did. “How do you expect me to ever have sex with me if you won’t let me touch you? You have to give yourself to me like I’m giving myself to you. It’s not wrong. It’s not dirty. It won’t change me in a bad way. It’ll draw me closer to you. And that’s good, don’t you think?”
Are there painful, heart breaking, soul-aching moments in this book? More than I can count. But that’s what makes this book so damn amazing. Even through the painful moments, my heart knew what I wanted for Mark and Cadence and I refused to give up hope for them.
“I hate that I have to see you every day. I hate that I have to be in your class. I hate you hurt my heart and I can’t fix it.” I paused for a moment. “I hate you. I really really hate you.”
Want another reason why Cadence is so fucking great?
I understood we were over, but he didn’t have to treat me like a complete, inconsequential stranger. The guy used to put his mouth between my legs.
Were there moments where Cadence could piss me off, make me laugh, make me cry and leave me reeling. Oh yeah! Again, I just love her.
He liked to blame me for this out-of-control person he’d become, but oh my God, I finally realized it! He liked it. He liked feeling that way. He liked being provoked.
He probably wanted to fuck me somewhere. A closet, no doubt.
Then there were the moments where all it took were some perfect words and I was left in awe. Mark Connelly is truly amazing.
“You don’t think I’m drama?”
Mark smiled. “I think you’re the best kind of drama. And I want you to be my drama, and make me feel all the time, and turn me inside out, and do to my heart and mind whatever you want.”
Dare I go on with Mark Connelly’s perfection? Oh I think I will.
“I feel possessive of you.” It sounded like it hurt him to say the words.
“I want you to,” I replied. “I want you to possess me.”
He nodded and cupped my face tenderly. “I’ll take your breath away, Cadence.” My eyes grew wide with fear until his next words. “But I’ll give it all back. I promise.”
Okay lovely people, I will leave you with one last Mark quote.
“God can punish me however he’d like. I don’t care. Call me crazy. Call me possessive or unstable or whatever. I don’t care. I’ll kill anyone who hurts you.”
I hope you all love him as much as I do and altogether just fall in love with this book, with Cadence, with Mark, with S. Walden and her incomparable, flawless writing. She really does have an amazing gift and I will truly love her and her writing forever.
Oh, I almost forgot. Drunk Cadence is my FAVORITE!
View all my reviews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
*ARC Given to Blog for Honest Review*
4.5 “Midnight in a Perfect World” Kisses
Okay…so I kinda cheated on this book. A little. I knew things. But I blame Brooke – it’s okay though, it didn’t ruin anything for me. But seriously…she warned me that Good was a cliffhanger. Now cliff’s can do some crazy things with my emotions. Sometimes I get mad…sometimes I get frustrated….and a very select few times I am 100% okay with a cliffhanger ending. This is one of those times. Don’t ask me how Miss. Walden did it but she pulled off one of the smoothest, happiest cliff’s ever.
Cadence Brynn Miller…sweet, young, naïve. That’s Cadence in a nutshell. A very very good girl in every sense of the word. Always done the right thing, been the picture of an ideal child for her parents, a pristine Christian daughter. But all it takes is one little life altering mistake to bring all that to a crashing halt. Her life is a shell of what it once was. No friends she can talk to, her parents treat her like she’s a burden and the whole town treats her like she’s a pariah. I mean the bullying she experiences at school is something I would never wish on another person. Sounds awesome, right? Until she meets her angel. Okay…I know that sounds like it could be cliché, but trust me, it’s not. Their chance meeting could have and should have been a one time deal…but where would the fun be in that?
‘School Survival Rules:
1. Do not cry under any circumstances.
2. Do not physically attack anyone (even if they totally deserve it).
3. Smile and act like nothing bothers you.
4. Try to exude Christian virtues like patience, love, and forgiveness.
5. When all else fails, use sarcasm as your defense mechanism.’
Mark Connelly….sigh….I might have an obsession with his hair. Read the book, it’ll make sense, I promise. He’s a dream boat…visually stunning, he’s 28, he loves music and red converse sneakers…and of course he also happens to be Cadences’ math teacher. Awesome! Honestly…I swooned over Mark but he was far from the perfect book boyfriend. Of course guys fuck up and do some dumb shit, but he did some pretty dumb shit. Like had me at tears at two very specific instances that I cannot ruin…but grrrrr….I don’t think I’ve ever been this frustrated with a dude in a book before.
‘I locked eyes with him. His were a steely blue. Almost completely gray, actually. Smoky, sensual irises that could teach me everything I needed to know about math and love and beauty and sex. And how the world was created. And how gravity works. And how chemicals react. And how-‘
So it’s the typical forbidden love, with the added feature that it’s really bordering on illegal love…not only do you have the teacher/student thing…but you have the age difference thing (she’s 17 at the beginning of the book). ‘Technically’ the legal age in Georgia is 16…but really? Who is going to be okay with anything under 18. But you can’t fight the way you feel and damn it if you don’t feel for them. And really the ‘forbidden’ aspect kind of made it a little more enticing in those instances because it’s that rush of excitement that adds to it too. ‘We shouldn’t be doing this, but we want to…’ It’s hard to explain because ‘logically’ I knew it was wrong, but for whatever reason I was okay with it.
‘He arched an eyebrow, waiting for my response. God, he was so freaking hot! Suddenly I was no longer embarrassed by his words. I just wanted to stare at his features. His hair was especially crazy today. And I wanted my hands in it. I wanted to pull on it. And his eyes. Oh, his eyes! Like fogged glass. A hazy film of smoke, letting me in just enough, but not all the way. And I wanted in all the way.’
There’s more conflict than just the fact that he’s her teacher and the age…she’s young and therefore inexperienced when it comes to relationships. It also doesn’t help that she is her own worst enemy and the thoughts she comes up with just on her own are enough to possibly destroy them. I empathized with her because to me, Cadence is the quintessential teenage girl. Let’s be honest here, 16-19 year old girls are pretty freakin loopy, we’ve got hormones and all sorts of crazy shit going on at the age, it’s really not all our fault. So add an extreme attraction and connection with a hot guy, mix in the fact that he’s basically the only human connection she has, splash in a dab of danger and lying = recipe for a cocktail of goodness. Which is exactly what I felt Good gave me. 😉
‘Mark chuckled. “Because it’s impossible to not be attracted to you. I couldn’t help myself. Every day after school, I would resolve to start over the next, to ignore how cute you were, to try to be unaffected by you. And then you’d come into class the next day, and my resolve would melt to nothing. I felt powerless, but not in a frustrated way. I liked the feeling. I still like the feeling.”
I smiled and sat up in his lap. “I’m glad your resolve melted to nothing.”
“Me too. Because I couldn’t imagine you not in my life.”’
Now Cadence isn’t completely alone. She does have one ‘friend’…Avery. I say ‘friend’ because that’s not how they start off…in the beginning it’s ‘freedom over friendship’ but over time it develops into a pretty good friendship. And Avery is there for Cadence when she really needs her…she’s a little voice of reason when Cadence needs it the most, she’s also extremely helpful in all the areas Cadence is lacking knowledge and experience and to ice this pretty little friendship cake – she’s hilarious. There is a waxing scene that had me rolling.
‘He nodded and cupped my face tenderly. “I’ll take all your breath away, Cadence.” My eyes grew wide with fear until his next words. “But I’ll give it all back. I promise.”’
I enjoyed watching Cadence grow and develop throughout the book…my heart went out to her because she is dealing with a lot…Mark, her parents, school, the lies, the stigma of being the ‘convict’. This is a pretty angsty book, I never knew what to expect next. I really didn’t expect to be in tears at 80% shaking my head and wondering wtf was going on. Mark has some skeletons in his closet. Things we don’t even scratch the surface on, which only makes me more eager for book two. He has a lot of explaining to do and I’m counting on Cadence to get him to open up.
‘“Do you wish I’d never stepped foot in your classroom?” I asked.
“I couldn’t imagine my life if you hadn’t stepped foot inside my classroom. Well, yes I could. It would be dull. Uninteresting. Lonely. And loveless.” He kissed the top of my head.’
Now, I said it was a cliff…but it’s a happy cliff. There is a lot still to come, like I said Mark’s issues need to be addressed, and there is still a lot of ‘external factors’ that need to be addressed, but I am happy camper because why? Cadence and Mark are together. The world may not be peachy, but they’ve got each other and with the person that you love, you can conquer the world, as long as they are by your side. It doesn’t take much to please me…but I can hold on for final answers as long as I know they aren’t apart. I know, I’m an odd duck, but it gives my anguished heart a small ounce of peace. So bring on Book #2! (Soon, please…k thanks!) 🙂
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it. She loves her fans and loves to hear from them.