Finished in the wee hours this morning. Guess I shouldn't feel too terribly surprised to find myself reading, entirely by accident, a book eerily similar to one I had qualms about - at least in plot points.
This one, I compare to The Highwayman. It's not even in the same sub-genre but...
-little blond girl befriends older boy who is being abused.
-circumstances separate them when she's 10
-circumstances bring him back within her circle under an assumed name
-both boys deal with sexual abuse
-both are afraid they're monsters due to their upbringing
-both inadvertently say something that makes the h realize who they are
-up until this point, both heroines assume the boy is long dead
The areas where one fails and the other succeeds:
-how long it takes for the h to realize her childhood friend is standing right there
-consistency or lack thereof in attending to threats
It is simply difficult to believe that an otherwise intelligent heroine really needs such blatant signs as an accidentally whispered pet name in the heat of the moment to figure it out. Our h picks up on a slip in a conversation within a day or so of his showing up. She lets him keep his secrets though for a week or better, as she figures he has his reasons. He is understandably surprised. They have a conversation.
The h in The Highwayman wasn't even a little suspicious as to his identity, something I found strange considering how much he knew about the past. Yeah; he told her that "the boy" had shared all that info with his buddies (which I found a little odd too, to be honest). Still...
The H was content to leave his past firmly in his past as long as his abuser didn't go for political standings. At that point, he came home, did some investigating, and put the wheels in motion to destroy the man, slowing only when he realized the man had a new whipping boy. This in turn attracted the attention of his boss who showed up to whisk the child out of the line of fire.
The H in The Highwayman set precedent in that people responsible for the horrors he endured as a kid wound up dead. He knew of the threat to the heroine when they were children. It seemed unbelievable that he would suffer the man to live long enough to actually find the h, much less attempt to hire an assassin to take her out (or track her down and kidnap her).
The bolting had a different reaction with the heroines.
One recognizes that the H is having difficulties and resolves to give him some space before tracking him down.
The other takes him at face value, goes away as ordered (really!?), and eventually threatens to take a lover to provide her with the promised family, bringing him back in a rage (conveniently just in time to show up for her rescuing herself from the bad guy).
You know, in retrospect. This book's heroine makes the other heroine look like an insensitive twit...