Thank you to Chloe Walsh, Bloom, Raincoast, and NetGalley for the copy of the Bloom re-release of Binding 13, the first book in the Boys of Tommen series.
I have been meaning to read this book for what feels like forever. I know fans more than just love this book but live and breathe it. I have always been intimidated by the length, I still am not fully sold that this book needed to be this long. What I am sold on is that I love Shannon and Johnny, and want the world for them both.
He wants to save her. She wants to hide. She’s damaged. He’s determined. Fate brought them together. Love binds them. Johnny Kavanagh has everything going for him. On the rugby pitch, he’s a force to be reckoned with, even plagued with a hidden injury. Everyone knows he’s heading straight for the top—but that means there’s no room for mistakes or distractions. Not even the shy new girl at Tommen College, the one with the sad eyes and hidden bruises. He needs to stay focused, keep his cool, and not let anything get in the way of the bigger picture. Except before he knows it, this lonely girl has become his only picture. Life has never been easy for Shannon Lynch. Bullied and tortured, she arrives at Tommen College mid-way through the school year praying for a fresh start and desperate to shake off the demons that plague her. But when she meets the notorious Johnny Kavanagh on her first day, her plans to keep a low profile are at serious risk. As they fall into a complicated friendship and grapple with their undeniable chemistry, hidden pain and complicated secrets threaten to be their undoing—but Johnny won’t give up on Shannon. No matter what it might cost them both.
Check out my more detailed thoughts below…
- Characters: I love Shannon Lynch and Johnny Kavanagh, and I totally get why you all do too. When we met Shannon, I was attached within the first few pages as I could not help but feel for this girl carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. After facing severe bullying at her public school, Shannon the only daughter in a family of multiple sons is able to go to a private school instead. This poor girl spends so much of this story helpless, yet I began to see the light in her as not just Johnny but her siblings and friends fill in the bright spots of her days. How does one not fall for Johnny Kavanagh, the high school rugby star is so endearing, charming, and caring. The cast of side characters really shines too, I know that there are books out about some, and others have books coming and I am invested to see what happens to everyone.
- Setting: The story is set in 2005 Ireland, in the small town of Ballylaggin. I did not know what to expect with the setting, and I loved it! I have learned some Irish slang, I am very thankful for the glossary that is included in this book. What the slang and the time period of almost twenty years ago do is it really transport you and further immerse you in the story.
- Pacing: This book is heavy, you need to look up content warnings and be cautious about the real-world themes it tackles. I knew about the topics this book would delve into, but I did not know how graphic some of the scenes would be. This book is not just heavy emotionally, it is heavy physically as it is just over 600 pages. I understand fans eat up every scene and love all this time with Shannon and Johnny. I did love most of their interactions, but some of the other chapters fell a bit flat when the two of them were not interacting. I really do think this book could have been a bit shorter, it really deters someone from starting this series when you see these huge books ahead of you.
- Romance: Johnny loves hard and falls fast and I adored reading every time he stepped up so quickly to defend her, while still being her greatest comforter. Shannon really struggles with her feelings, first, the idea that Johnny or anyone could love her this deeply is a foreign concept for her. Then once her own feelings develop she must navigate lying every day to the person she loves. What drove me through this book was getting to the revelations, I wanted Johnny and Shannon to communicate with each other in the most open way possible. While reading I had to remind myself of their age, which gives them a bit of a pass for struggling to communicate with one another for hundreds of pages. What is so special about this story though is the epicness of this love story. It has this deep overwhelming feeling that had me thinking about them constantly days after finishing this (along with propelling me to jump into Keeping 13 basically as I finished this one).
Binding 13 receives four out of five stars.
You can pick up the story below…
Thank you again to Bloom and Raincoast for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!