• I’ll Be The One by Hazel James • Blog Tour w/ Review •

Title: I’ll Be the One
Author: Hazel James
Genre: Coming of Age/New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 17, 2016
For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall graduate.
Rachel Wheaton
The senior Economics project is supposed to teach us about real life. Budgeting. Social classes. Careers. I was supposed to plan it all out with my school husband. I didn’t plan on actually falling in love with him, too.
But sometimes real life doesn’t go according to plans. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions and sacrifices for the person you love. That’s what marriage is about, right?
James Tennyson
I’ve always known things before they happen. Nothing major, like lottery numbers, but it’s been pretty useful for things like playing football and dodging clingy girls. I’ve never been able to see my future. I didn’t think much about it, to be honest.
Until second period, when she walked through the door.
Falling in love with her unlocked something inside me. Those little things I know? Now they’re big things. Life-saving things. So who do I save? And at what cost? I made a vow to her.
For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall graduate live.
I start thinking about this dreaded project, but it becomes less of an issue when I realize it’s getting harder to breathe. A loud ringing overtakes my ears while my brain and heart disagree over how fast it should beat. I have no idea what this means. Maybe it’s a natural disaster? I’ve never predicted anything that big before. Do they even have earthquakes in North Carolina? Tsunamis? Stampedes? I look outside and see blue skies. Is there about to be an airplane crash? Train crash? A code blue? I should’ve paid better attention in geography or that CPR class.
My heart’s beating faster and faster, and I wipe my palms against my jeans. I don’t know if I should hide under my desk or try to find a bathroom. I look around; everyone else is passing in their homework as if the new kid isn’t getting ready to keel over and die.
Oh, my God. It’s the apocalypse. That’s gotta be it. The world is going to end, and I’m the only one who knows it. And here I thought it was going to be a good day. Now I wish I would have gone all the way with Brittney. To die a virgin when the opportunity had once presented itself seems like such a waste. I start counting my heartbeats and try to calm the fuck down so I can figure out how to tell everyone else that Jesus or zombies are on the way.
Then the classroom door opens, and I stop breathing.
A girl with long, blond hair walks in and hands a late slip to Mrs. Mason. “Welcome back, Rachel. How was Cozumel?”
“It was great! We got back late last night. My favorite part was the Chichen Itza tour. Who knew a bunch of old stuff could be so cool? Just don’t let Mr. Allen know I said that. He’ll probably make me write a report on it.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, and your secret’s safe with me. Turn in your holiday homework and take your seat. It’s time to get married.”
I watch Rachel dig in her backpack and will my incapacitated diaphragm to remember its sole purpose in life. When she walks toward me, I take a moment to admire her long legs. She smiles, and then her lips are moving. Oh God. I’ve never hated my lungs so much in my life. I cough and manage to inhale. I swear I smell vanilla mixed with… sunshine? I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an odd combination, but on her it works. She sits in a desk next to me and stares like she’s waiting for me to do something. Her eyes remind me of chocolate. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.
“I’m sorry, what?” Thank you, vocal cords. Thank you for working and not making me look like an even bigger jackass.
“Hi, what’s your name?” she repeats, drawing out each word.
Shit. I wipe my hands on my jeans again. What’s that word people use to get my attention? That thing inside my head needs more oxygen to work properly. I take a deep breath.
Vanilla. Sunshine.
“James.” I manage to smile, but it probably looks like the same face I made that time Gran mixed up the salt with the sugar in her apple pie. Rachel looks confused. The teacher starts speaking again and I’m grateful for the distraction.
“All right, class. Let’s get into our project. As I mentioned before the break, the senior Economics project is based on real life. You will each be assigned a partner and the two of you will become a couple. You’ll spend the next five months dealing with budgets, jobs, bills, pretend families, and so on. I will place you in different socio-economic classes and you’ll see how that affects the jobs you can find, the houses you can afford and the opportunities you have in life. I’ll throw in some twists here and there too. Now, let’s partner up and get hitched.”
She counts off pairs around the classroom and ends up on my row of desks. “Alicia and Scott. Cori and Mike. Rachel and James.”
Holy shit. I love this class. I love this desk. I love this assignment.
“Stand up and slide your desks back to make space in the middle of the room.” Mrs. Mason grabs a basket off her desk and passes a Ring Pop to each guy in the room. “Gentlemen, please unwrap your rings, stand before your brides and repeat after me:
“I, state your name, take thee, state your bride’s name, in pretend matrimony. I promise to be true to our grade for better or worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall graduate.”
I slide the Ring Pop on Rachel’s finger and make an effort to not jerk my hand back. Sparks didn’t actually fly, but I wasn’t expecting her skin to feel so soft. So good. I’ve never been pretend married before, but I already know I can never give another girl a ring again. I’m a senior in high school and I’m ruined for life. I want to get married for real and have her babies. I mean, make her have my babies. Shit, who am I kidding? I’d have her babies if she asked me to.
“Okay, let’s get the desks back in order and I’ll hand out your packets with all of your information. We’ll review them together and you can start looking for houses.”
I slide my desk back up, bringing it slightly closer to Rachel’s. She puts her hair in a ponytail but a few shorter tendrils fall around her face. Fuck, did I just say tendrils? This is not good. I’ve made it seventeen years without having a girlfriend, and now I have a pretend wife and I’m using sissy words. What’s next? I clear my throat and take a deep breath.
“Let’s try this again. Hi, I’m James. It’s nice to meet you.”
*****

REVIEW

“He smiles again, but this one is different. This one has hope behind it. I know, because I’m wearing the same one.”

Books like this are why I love Young Adult/New Adult stories. I love stories of first loves. All the little details that you take for granted as you get older. All the glances across the room, the brushing of fingers against each other, the butterflies in the pit of your stomach when that certain person admits they have feelings for you.

“The heart knows what it wants. It’s the head that usually gets in the way.”

James has moved around, a lot. When he first sees Rachel Wheaton, everything just clicks into place. He has a way of knowing certain things before they happen, but nothing could prepare him for Rachel. She opened his heart in a way that no one has been able to do before. Lucky for him that Rachel feels the same for him. They may only be high school seniors, but James has found his soul mate in Rachel. In the end, he may have to make the biggest sacrifice of them all…. for Rachel.

“Everyone deserves a shot at growing old with the person they love.”

This is Hazel’s first book and I hope it won’t be her last. She has tapped into a genre that I hold close to my heart and has done it proud. All the little pieces that make this genre special…. she made sure to touch on them all. You have the ultimate book boyfriend in James and a female lead that everyone will love and can relate to in some way. Not to mention an ending that you won’t see coming. at. all. (and quite honestly, I’m slightly mad at Hazel James for getting some tears out of me). The plot is set up in a way that has a slow build until you get towards the end. You’re given little pieces along the way, that won’t completely make sense until the end.

Think you don’t like New Adult? Read this one because I’m pretty sure it’ll change your mind.

4 out of 5 stars
*****
I’m a proud Army veteran, Army wife, and my greatest loves include my family, lip gloss, Diet Coke, and the beach. I believe 90s music is the cure for most bad moods and chocolate after 9 p.m. doesn’t count. I’m a self-professed bibliophile. If reading burned calories, I’d weigh -20 pounds. 

 

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