Vindicate by Beth Yarnall

I tend to stick to certain tropes and subgenres of romance. This one was a little bit outside of what I normally read, but it looked interesting, and sometimes I get in the mood to expand my horizons.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman working desperately to free her brother from jail tries to resist her attraction to the man who offered to help her with the case. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
The writing was good, and I liked Cora’s character. She’s damaged, but she has a good reason to be. She’s put her life on hold to free her brother from prison, and that alone leads to much of the personal conflict of the story.

I won’t give any spoilers, but the ending hit me in the feels, and even though there was much of the book I was a little lukewarm on, the ending made it worth it.

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Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I think the characters were in their early 20s, but they felt so much younger. Other than the few sex scenes, I felt like I was reading a YA novel. I’m not stating this as a negative against YA novels or against this book. But I felt like the general tone was a little younger than I’m used to.

The cover for this book bothered me. It has nothing to do with the story, other than the hero being good looking. In fact, the cover makes me think it should have a sports theme.

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The Romance Factor
The romance felt a little lacking. Leo starts out as kind of a jack ass, and it’s hard to get past that. Cora is resistant to him because she doesn’t want a relationship to distract her from helping her brother, so there is a dose of angst and conflict. But for me, the mystery part of the book definitely overshadowed the romance. 2/5

The Steam Factor
Though I didn’t buy into the romance as much, I thought the steamy parts of this book were fairly erotic in a “gentleman meets virgin” kind of way. And though Leo wasn’t much of a gentleman at the beginning, he sort of redeems himself by not jumping Cora the first chance he gets, even if she wants him to. That whole “we’re going to do stuff…but not that” vibe was fun. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I think I became a little too critical because of that cover, and because for the first half of the book, I kept reading the main characters as if they were 16. As a romance, it didn’t hit any buttons, but the mystery and drama were good and I came away feeling satisfied when all was said and done.

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