ARC Review: If You Only Knew by Prerna Pickett

Title: If You Only Knew
Author: Prerna Pickett
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Hardcover, 304 Pages
Published February 2020

Summary: Corey has just been released from jail, and all he wants is a new beginning. But when his former gang comes knocking, Corey agrees to vandalize the home of Kent Hopper, the prosecutor who put him away. To erase the guilt she carries from getting away with a crime, Tessa spends most of her nights riding her motorcycle. When she catches Corey destroying her father’s car, she doesn’t see a criminal: She sees a way to finally right her own wrongs. So instead of turning Corey over to the police, she convinces her father to give Corey a second chance. As Tessa and Corey spend more time with each other, it becomes difficult to ignore the pull between them. But they’re both keeping secrets, and when those secrets come to light, they’ll each have to face their demons in order to have a future together. 

I received an advanced copy of IF YOU ONLY KNEW in exchange for an honest review, so without any further ado, let’s get into it!

As the summary explains, Corey finds himself being wrapped up in gang violence that he can’t find his way out of, and it results in him getting into some trouble with Tessa’s dad, the prosecutor who helped put him away. But what neither Corey nor Tessa expects are sparks to fly when they spend time together during his community service – but can a love like theirs last in a world with so much secrecy, stigma, and danger?

There were definitely some things that I really liked  about this book. For one, I really liked how outspoken Tessa was. She didn’t take any nonsense from anybody, especially Corey, and the way she always spoke her mind had me cheering her on from the very beginning. I also really loved Corey’s character – it was clear that he was just a young, sensitive kid who found himself in over his head and having to make some not very smart decisions. I sympathized with him from the very beginning, and my heart broke for him every time he had to make a decision which was done out of his desire to protect Tessa and his mother and his brother. Overall, these two characters were very fleshed out and felt very passionate, sweet, and real.

However, there were a few parts of this book that I wasn’t super keen on. For starters, I’m not a huge fan of insta-love, and it didn’t really feel that believable between Tessa and Corey. She went from absolutely hating him to suddenly being SUPER attracted to him, feeling him up, and wanting to be with him. Sometimes that works in books I read because of the whole “whirlwind romance” factor, but I wasn’t really able to sell myself on it while reading this book. I also just had a hard time getting into the book overall. The pacing felt a little bit too slow for me, without a whole lot of major action really happening. I realized that I was sitting down to read, getting all settled and opening the book, but as my eyes were scanning the pages I felt my mind wandering. I just didn’t feel super gripped by this story – which, to be super clear, does NOT mean that it’s bad or that the writing is bad – it just means that it wasn’t the right book for me!

Overall, I thought IF ONLY YOU KNEW was a good book, just not the perfect book for me. But if you’re still into stories involving bad boys, forbidden love, and a whirlwind romance, then I’d recommend picking this one up. Just because this book wasn’t my particular cup of tea doesn’t mean that it can’t be yours!


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