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Review: The Boy & His Ribbon by Pepper Winters

The Boy & His Ribbon 
Pepper Winters
Publication date: April 1, 2018
Series: The Ribbon Duet #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance
"What do you do when you meet your soul mate? No wait...that's too easy. What do you do when you meet your soul mate and have to spend a lifetime loving him in secret?
I'll tell you what you do.
You lie."

Ren was eight when he learned that love doesn't exist--that the one person who was supposed to adore him only cared how much he was worth.
His mother sold him and for two years, he lived in terror.
But then...he ran.
He thought he'd run on his own. Turned out, he took something of theirs by accident and it became the one thing he never wanted and the only thing he ever needed.

I was young when I fell in love with him, when he switched from my world to my everything.
My parents bought him for cheap labour, just like they had with many other kids, and he had the scars to prove it.
At the start, he hated me, and I could understand why.
For years he was my worst enemy, fiercest protector, and dearest friend.
But by the end...he loved me.
The only problem was, he loved me in an entirely different way to the way I loved him.
And slowly, my secret drove us apart.

Ren was only ten years old when he escaped from a hellish existence of servitude and abuse. He had his freedom – but discovered he wasn’t totally free. He had unknowingly taken the daughter of his abusers. And he hated her for slowing him down, for the added responsibility. But those feelings changed and Della became everything to Ren. Uneducated but resourceful, responsible and wise beyond his years, Ren creates a life for the two of them that is unconventional but surprisingly stable.

I often found my heart swelling with warmth for my young, tiny friend and cracking in pain knowing this life we shared couldn’t go on forever. She would eventually need more. She would eventually outgrow me. - Ren

Ren was a complex character. Selfless, protective, willing to do anything to provide for Della and do his absolute best by her. But he is also a product of his past – sold by his mother for a paltry sum, bought by a sadistic man for labor, forced to fight for his very survival – and that past has left its mark on Ren. Knowing he was unwanted and unloved, experiencing only cruelty and abuse, he understandably trusts no one (beyond Della), is suspicious of everyone, and feels unworthy of love or even simple kindness. Ren was always happier removed from society, away from people, surrounded by nature in the woods. But for Della, he sacrificed even that.

She might have upset me, messed up my mind, and ruined my trust, but nothing could change the fact that where she was, I was happiest, and she was all I needed. - Ren

Told in dual points of view, The Boy and His Ribbon spans more than 15 years and follows the evolution of Ren and Della’s relationship from children to young adults and, in Ren’s case, adulthood. Their bond is close, their loyalty is unmatched, and their feelings change over time and morph into something beyond friendship, beyond companionship and beyond innocence. The boundaries of their relationship are tested and stretched - and they both suffer for it.

How many times do you think a person can survive a broken heart? I would like to know because Ren has successfully broken mine, repaired it, shattered mine, fixed it, crushed mine, and somehow glued it back together again and again. - Della

Ren and Della’s story required a certain suspension of disbelief. (Because really, could a 10 year old boy really single-handedly care for a baby and raise her on his own? Could he provide food and care by himself year after year?) And at times the prose drifted into melodrama. But neither of those things stopped me from falling for their story. Whether the focus was on their day to day existence in the woods or in an abandoned building, or on their ever-changing dynamic and how it was impacted by other people in their lives, I was hooked. Ren and Della are not ordinary characters and their story is not a typical story. It was emotional and angsty, sweet and heartwarming, forbidden and heartbreaking. Winters never took the easy way out, didn’t hesitate to make her characters hurt, and when I thought I knew what direction the story was going to take, she threw in a twist that I didn’t see coming.

How could you not fall in love with a boy like Ren Wild? How could you not fall in love with a boy who puts you first in everything, protects you at all costs, worships the ground you walk on, gives you things you didn’t know you wanted, who can hear your thoughts and see your fears? A boy who sacrificed so much without even telling you, leaving you heartbroken when you’re old enough to figure it out for yourself? - Della

The Boy & His Ribbon is a different kind of story. It doesn’t follow the usual tropes and conventions. But I liked the differences and the unpredictability – even while the angst was doing me in and hurting my heart. Even while the cliffhanger left me heartsick and desperate for answers. When you’re in the mood for something out of the ordinary, something emotional that will captivate you and have you questioning what’s right and wrong, pick up The Boy & His Ribbon and experience Ren and Della’s story for yourself.


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

WWW Wednesday #24 | September 19, 2018

WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.
Just answer three questions and share what you're reading.

I just started What If It's Us and though my reading time is sparse right now (unpacking boxes is my life) I can't wait to really get into it. I'm still in chapter one and Arthur and Ben are having their meet-cute at the post office. So adorable! 

The second book in the Ribbon duology, The Girl & Her Ren pretty much broke my heart. OMG, the angst, the sadness. Hence my need for the utter preciousness of What If It's Us right now. 

The current plan is to start The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue just as soon as it's available (I'm #1 on my Overdrive hold).

What are you currently reading?
I wanna know! :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR Edition

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: 
Top Ten Books on My Fall* TBR
If you know me at all you know that I don't make TBR lists.
And why don't I make TBR lists?
Because I don't stick to them.
And why don't I stick to them?
Because I'm a total mood reader and never know what I'll want to read from one book to the next.

But that doesn't mean I don't have books I want to get to sooner rather than later. Or a mental kinda-sorta TBR. You get the idea. So here's my Fall non-TBR. 

*We are using the term Fall in the loosest sense of the word. This is Florida. We don't have Fall. It's currently 93 degrees and feels like 102. So yeah... Fall.


Have you read any of these books? 
What's at the top of your Fall TBR?

The Sunday Post #120

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

What a week it's been. Busy and exhausting but mostly good. We've been in the new house for a week and it's been filled with unpacking (still a lot of boxes sitting around), organizing, and projects. The Husband has wall-mounted a new flat-screen TV, set up our computers, changed a shower head, put together bookcases, spackled and painted, made multiple trips to Home Depot and IKEA, torn out the master closet storage and today is preparing to install an all new built-in closet organization. He's basically a rock star.
Dear Robert,

Another September, another hurricane - only this time it didn't hit Florida. But it did hit North Carolina and I have plenty of family there, including my step-daughter who lives right on the coast. Thankfully she is safe. Still without power, and I'm not sure how much damage to her home yet, but safe. Other family members are also without power but also safe. And now we're just hopeful the flooding is not too severe. They are very much in my thoughts.

Very little time for reading this past week. Just too much else to do. But I did (finally) finish The Girl & Her Ren last night - the second book in a dark romance duet. It was good but it was angsty and emotional and sad... not exactly a ball of fun! LOL My next read definitely needs to be something light!

This song isn't new but I am seriously still loving it so hard. And the video is pretty sweet. :)

So worth reading but, boy, it took a lot out of me. Pepper Winters put me through the emotional wringer!


Nothing right now. I just finished The Girl & Her Ren last night and haven't picked my next book yet. Today should be busy but maybe tonight I'll peruse my bookshelves and pick something light and fun.

Not a thing! Been too busy for book buying! :)

How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
I'd love to hear about it!

The Sunday Post #119 (on a Monday)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

Writing to you from a place called Total Exhaustion. What a weekend! Friday was the closing on the new house, Saturday was spent making several trips with smaller items, and Sunday was the Big Moving Day. My mom was with us almost all day Saturday and was such a huge help. And yesterday my nephews and brother-in-law showed up at 8:30 in the morning and didn't stagger home until 4:00 in the afternoon - after a long day of back-breaking lifting, carrying and general awesomeness. I am so, so thankful for the help of family! 

Last night was our first night in the new house and even though I am surrounded by chaos, and even though there are a few small trips left to the old house to be made, I'm so happy to be right where I am.

We trashed, donated and sold so much during the packing process and it's been a great feeling to purge so much from our home. I'm thrilled to be making the move with *less.* Paperwork and files, clothes, decor and just... junk. Isn't it crazy how much we collect and hold on to?! After 15 years in the old house it really added up. Letting go of so much stuff truly makes the move feel like a fresh start.

One thing I haven't had much time for is reading. And that probably won't change much this week, either. But I am enjoying The Girl & Her Ren whenever I get a chance to pick it up and get through a couple pages.

Now I'm off to get busy and unpack a few boxes. Maybe I'll find my computer glasses... that would be ever so helpful. LOL  Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! 

Tuesday, September 5
Top Ten Tuesday:

Wednesday, September 6

After languishing on my Kindle for several years, I finally picked this one up. Despite having some issues with it, I still enjoyed it and I'm sure I'll pick up the other books in the trilogy at some point.

I finally felt ready to start this second book in the duet (although now it looks like there might be a third book coming?). Only 30% or so into it but so far-so good.

Not a thing! Been too busy for book buying! :)

How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
I'd love to hear about it!