Attending a prestigous school for the performing arts in New York, Dawn Cutler finally has a chance to realize her dreams. Her family members - all of whom are either distant or spiteful - no longer have the chance to bring her down, as her natural talent flourishes, and she grows more confident and comfortable in her life training to be a singer. Then seductive and debonair Michael Sutton builds her up only to destroy her, leaving her once again a pawn in her Grandmother's machinations.
I had a lot of issues with this book. Although I have had my heart broken - and badly - when I was a little younger and in a relationship where I was blind to the other person's flaws (and to mine!) and I can sympathize with Dawn, I found it difficult to believe that she so readily believed Michael Sutton's lies. He was one of the slimiest, greasiest characters I've ever read about, and with every false promise he made to Dawn, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do more - shake her, or slap him. Starved for love, she never questioned his intentions, and I wished, as I turned the pages, that somehow the story I remembered would turn out differently. But Michael's abandonment of Dawn hurt just as much this time, perhaps because (for some crazy reason) I actually adore her.
Watching Dawn flounder as Grandmother Cutler once again steps in to arrange the solution she has deemed best, my heart hurt for Dawn. Her family, we find out later, knows of her situation, and does nothing to help her. Dawn is sent to stay with her great-aunts, one of whom is simple, the other who is a religious fanatic, and cruel. Dawn definitely pays for her misplaced faith under great aunt Emily, who works her to the bone and endlessly lectures her about what a sinner she is. When Dawn finally gets to leave, I practically clapped.
I'm a little torn on this book. I loved some parts. I loved that despite everything she puts him through, Jimmy is still there for Dawn. She makes some HUGE mistakes, and he never wavers in his love for and his devotion to her. Some would call that blind, but I always saw him as choosing to rise above it all and move on from the past and the bad decisions. I didn't like that Dawn, at times, tended to depend on Jimmy too much, and I feel like she took for granted that he would always be there for her. She had to grow up a lot in this book, and when I get to my re-read of the next book, I hope to see that she realizes how amazing Jimmy is to love her like he does.
I was not fond of the twist at the end of the book. I thought it was a little too easy, and while it explained a lot from the current and previous book, I guess I will always wish Andrew Neiderman (writing as V.C. Andrews) had taken a different route. But overall this book was emotional and enjoyable, though somewhat bittersweet, as Dawn's rags-to-riches story takes on several new levels, and new turns in the road. The book ends on an extremely hopeful note though, with Dawn and Jimmy - quite literally - headed toward their future, together.