Reading the synopsis of this book, what captured my attention is that the premise is a bit different and darker undertones than typical New Adult novels out there. This is not a light read. The Replacement addresses elements of verbal and emotional abuse that some people deal with in real life. I must warn you now that my review is lengthy, so if you want to know the rating I gave, scroll to the bottom. I also quoted from an ARC, so the final copy may differ.
Our MC, Elise, is flawed and deeply broken. Elise has earned the label of a grade A whore. She accepts it and is unapologetic about it. Hell, she owns the label and wears it like a scarlet letter. Her repertoire is impressive, ranging from single men to married men. And she doesn't care about the whispers around town... at least she tells herself that she doesn't care.
"I'm a whore. I'm rotten to the fucking core, and if you shake this crazy fantasy you have -- of me and you frolicking in the woods together, star gazing and listening to Fleetwood Mac -- you'd fucking see that! You'd run in the other direction if you had any shred of sense."
For this, she's not a very likable person. In that, you can't help but feel a little sympathetic for her. Not many understand why one would do this, and automatically degrade them for doing such reckless actions. Reasons can vary: needs of a distraction or money, a way to feel more self-worth, attention, verbal or sexual abuse in the past, emotionally damaged, insecurities, a form of self-punishment, lack of or fear of intimacy, etc. Elise has low self-worth for legitimate reasons. Her childhood was less than stellar, and seeing a glimpse of how F'd up her upbringing was, you understand how much it affected her and how broken she still is from it, which led her seeking sex at every corner. So that brings Elise to use sex as form of self-destruction and found solace in the arms of a companion of the night. The only time she feels good about herself is in the throes of passion.
Here's the thing, those who sleeps around... A LOT... deal with something psychological.What people don't understand is that it is a form of self-destruction, and that's exactly what Elise is doing. Her father's verbal and emotional abuse still haunts her well into adulthood. She grew up being brainwashed into believing that she's worthless and will always be second best.
“That’s all you are, you slut–a replacement. Sloppy seconds and an in between quickie for every guy in this town who’s looking to fill a hole.”
This reminded me of one of the songs from my favorite band, and a few lines that can relate to this part of the story.
Push your lack of chest out, look at my hair
Gotta love the way you love yourself
Your obsession with rocks and brown
And fucking the whole town's
A reflection on your mental health
They really did a number on her all through her childhood, and it stuck with her well into adulthood. She never knew love of a parent because her parents showed her none. Maybe her mom did in her own way, but not true unconditional love. It made me sick and I mentally smacked the hell out of her father.
I study psychology, so even though I've never dealt with Elise's situation personally, I still understood what made her choose a self-destructive path. We all have our own ways of dealing with emotional trauma and insecurities. Like any other girl, Elise just wants to feel needed and loved unconditionally. Though she goes about it all wrong, this is the only way she knows how. I just wish she hadn't let it get to her, but it's tough not to.
Then in comes her saving grace in the form of Ryder. He challenges her, shakes her to her core and makes her feel real things. Things she's never felt before, things she's quite unsure of. Like she's beautiful and much more than she sees herself for. She doesn't know what to make of it. And the amount of patience Ryder has is impressive. I mean a lot of people are impatient these days, me being one of them. I applaud him for that because my patience ran thin so many times while reading this book. Not only was his patience impressive, so was his understanding, self-respect and self-resistance. Although it was difficult to resist Elise whenever she threw herself at him, he wasn't after just sex with her. He wanted her -- all of her.
"I don't just want a quick lay with you, don't you get that? When I fuck you, I want all of you. Your mind, your heart -- I want you."
Elise is one stubborn character to say the least. She pushes him away and hurts him repeatedly. She doesn't believe the nice, good things he tells her. But that doesn't deter him. It takes a lot of convincing to let any good get through to her, but eventually Ryder does break through the walls that she had erected. He shows her that she is beautiful inside and out, but also that beauty is not all there is to a person. That she doesn't have to use her body to feel worthy or loved. She's more than just a piece of ass.
“All I want to say to you is that you’re too goddamn beautiful, too goddamn smart, and too goddamn good for a life like that, you hear me?”
He is exactly what Elise needed to believe in herself. It's no easy feat to get to that point though. She struggles hard with it. He doesn't tear her down like her parents did, instead he builds her up. With that does she realize that her parents had been wrong about her beauty and her worth. Elise and Ryder are magnetic and explosive. The sweet romance, hot sex, and the passion and love between them can attest to that. ;-)
I wish that Elise could see that she already had someone all along who does see some good in her and truly cares for her. Jay has been like a father figure to her, one her biological father never was. If it wasn't for him, I think she would have completely lost her way. But with the help of Jay and Ryder, she let go of the past beliefs that had been instilled in her and sought out her true potential.
This story focuses a lot on the long-term affects one suffers from emotional, verbal and psychological abuse and self-destruction, and although there were other subplots, it also focuses on redemption and overcoming the self-destructive path that is caused by abuse. It added more authenticity to the story. Wade (author) really tackled those elements to the bone and handled it well. It's not all heavy stuff though, there are some steamy and cute moments, breathing room and twists to spice things up.
Readers can expect a slew of emotions, twists and underlying lessons of atonement, redemption, unconditional love, self-worth, healing, a journey of self-discovery. You can overcome the hurtful negativity that was wrongfully embedded into your psyche and be the person you are meant to be. Don't let others dictate who you are and what you're worth.