Book Review: Want by Stephanie Lawton

13432648Title: Want
Author: Stephanie Lawton
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: June 7th, 2012
Publisher: InkSpell Publishing
Rating: 5 stars
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Review copy provided by the publisher.

Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche.
Julianne can’t understand why Isaac suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it before she inherits her mother’s madness. Isaac knows he must resist his attraction to a student ten years his junior, but loneliness and jealousy threaten his resolve.
Their indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball—the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite—forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.
Will Julianne accept the help she’s offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?

Want is a rollercoaster of emotions. Trust me, you don’t want to read this book while you’re on the train back home, and a myriad of strangers is glancing at you and wondering why the heck your face looks like you’re experiencing a bazillion emotions at once. A powerful and strong novel, filled with a wide variety of characters, strong emotions against a southern setting, this is young adult contemporary romance at its best. You don’t want to miss out on this book, believe me.

The main character, Julianne, lives and breathes music. I would go as far as to say that not only is it her greatest passion, it’s also the only thing keeping her alive. Why? Well, because Julianne’s family is about as dysfunctional as a family can get. Her mother is abusive, and this abuse causes Julianne to start hurting herself. Her father chooses to ignore the abuse and most of the problems going on in their family, only adding to Julianne’s despair. Her only solace is music. But when her music teacher grows ill, it looks like Julianne is on the verge of losing absolutely everything, including her music.

But fortunately, her teacher’s talented nephew Isaac becomes Julianne’s new teacher. But it soon becomes clear that Isaac is perhaps just as troubled as Julianne is. He carries with him a lot of secrets and mysteries. He’s the epitome of the proverbial “hot and cold” male: he draws Julianne closer, and then pushes her away. Sometimes he opens up a little, then he closes himself entirely from the outside world. He’s also roughly ten years older than she is, which puts them in an almost impossible position.

While Julianne’s relationship with Isaac is tumultuous to say the least, the reader is quickly thrown into a love triangle. Now, I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles. Alright, who am I kidding…I LOVE love triangles. It’s my secret passion. But not all of them are equally well done. I have to admit that the love triangle in Want is miles above most young adult love triangles. It’s also a very close call, which only shows how good of a writer Stephanie Lawton is. It’s very difficult to write a love triangle without giving away the ‘endgame’ relationship too soon. Mrs. Lawton definitely succeeds in this department – I was biting my nails all the way to the end, hoping, pleading, begging that Julianne would pick the ‘right’ guy.

The second potential love interest for Julianne is Dave, a typical gentleman, and the only one who’s there for Julianne in her time of need. The kind of friend you can always rely on. I loved him as a character. He is the stability Julianne needs in her life, the shoulder to lean on when it all gets too much.

Want is a must-read novel for fans of contemporary romance in general – even people who aren’t a big fan of young adult novels: this book has enough mature concepts to appeal to a mature audience as well. It’s definitely not for younger YA readers, because it contains some very dark and depressing themes. I can’t wait to read more by this author, and I recommend everyone who enjoys a good romance novel that will keep you glued to your seat, to try out Want. I guarantee you’ll be amazed.