Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow father’s path as head of the Family Business. But new legislation is poised to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade and Maggie’s recent behavior has wrecked the business-savvy reputation she’s worked her whole life to build.
She’s given an ultimatum: shape up or step aside.
Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer , and must sneak it off-estate for repair. When Alex, a tech wiz, uncovers the type of information on the machine, he offers Maggie a choice: her Family can give him a kidney, or he’ll irreparably scramble the data. Maggie agrees, but has no intention of keeping her promise or ever seeing him again. That night, Alex shows up at her Family estate with copies of the confidential Family files and the shocking revelation–the kidney is for him.
The Vickers aren’t willing to let Alex out of their sight, so he moves onto their estate and Maggie is assigned to be his keeper. A task she resents and he enjoys making as challenging as possible. But procuring black market organs is becoming increasingly difficult, and as Alex’s health declines, she’s surprised to find herself falling for him.
Like it or not, Maggie must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for both.
Break Me Like A Promise is the second book in Schmidt’s Once Upon A Crime series, after last years Hold Me Like A Breath. While the first book is loosely based on The Princess and the Pea, the sequel puts a modern day spin on The Frog Prince. I had some issues with the first book in regards to character development and world-building. It was intriguing enough though that I’ve been looking forward to this sequel. And I’m happy to say I actually wound up liking it more. The main character in this story is Magnolia who appeared in a small secondary role in the first story. I have to be honest and say for the first half of the book I couldn’t stand her. She’s a pampered, entitled, spoiled little princess, who cares nothing for anyone around her. Especially aggravating is her disinterest in the patients who rely on her family for providing organs for transplant. This is partly explained by her phobia of blood, but her self-involved attitude and callousness gets to be incredibly annoying. But then Alex enters her life, and while the signs are initially subtle at first, it eventually becomes obvious that he has a profound effect on her, and it’s for the better. Not surprisingly they pretty much despise each other at the onset, but slowly they realize they have more in common than they think, and a very sweet romance develops. Alex is the main reason I wound up liking this book as much as I did. He may not have had the privileged upbringing that Maggie did, but he displays a strength of character that in the beginning of the story, she does not possess. The interplay between them, beginning with insults and teasing, develops into more meaningful exchanges, which were pure pleasure to read. However, because so much attention is focused on Maggie and Alex, other parts of the book suffered. Secondary characters for the most part are neglected and while the concept of organ-trafficking is developed a little more–mainly by bringing in the battle to legalize the business–it takes a back seat to the romance. Overall, though this is a case where the sequel successfully builds upon the original book. There’s something nefarious happening besides the main plot line involving some mysterious hacking into the Families computers, and it’s left me quite curious as to how things will play out in the next book. Break Me Like A Promise is a solid read and I unhesitatingly recommend it for fans of YA suspense and mystery.