hooked on trouble is the final book in the over the top series. as a series capper it does a nice job of answering all those questions left from the previous novels. we get to see shay and kolton live out their happy ending and sawyer and lily figure their left over angst out. and finally, finally we learn what happened between raven and nico that long ago night in aspen, and why they couldn't let go of the connection even through mountains of anger and hurt.
raven is a bad girl. she's got the tattoos, the delinquent history, the terrible childhood. really she's your bad girl gone good. because after realizing that she was headed to a bad place, she got her head on straight and pulled her life together. shay and lily a huge part of what keep her focused. when she moves to join her friends in vancouver, she has a hidden reason having to do with her past. her sister, rose, left their family behind when raven was just 8. raven feels a lot of guilt for being one of the reasons that rose left, even though the fact is that as a child, raven has no actual reason to feel guilty about anything. it's not her fault her father was an abusive asshole. but she's carried this guilt for years, and finding her sister feels like a way to reclaim all these things she missed out on. a real family. a real sister. someone to share holidays with. someone who understands exactly where you come from.
the thing is, nico actually understands where raven comes from. while he is a good guy, a cop who prides himself for staying on the straight and narrow, his family has excelled at breaking the law. so much so that they are, in fact, the reasons why nico disappeared on raven after aspen. his brother josh has been arrested for stealing a car and for meth possession with intent to sell. while guilty of stealing the car, he had no idea there were drugs in it, and unless the street criminal who actually knew what was happening confesses, he is headed for jail. his sister a recovering drug addict with a history of making poor decisions. nico feels responsible. as the older brother, with an absent, criminal father, nico partially helped raise his siblings. he had opportunities they were never given and he feels responsible about the paths their lives have taken.
so while nico and raven understand each other at this fundamental level, their outlooks on life and how they react to the things around them are completely at odds. there is no real doubt that the characters love each other. they just need to figure out how to communicate and trust in each other. it's an emotional, roller coaster ride that gets them there, and well worth it in the end. raven learns that family can be the one you choose as much as the one you are born with, and nico learns being forgiving of others and yourself is necessary, because we are all human, and we are going to fuck up.
**hooked on trouble will publish on january 10, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for my honest review.