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Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
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Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.
Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.
Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.
She’s got nothing left to lose.
So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.
It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:
Can we meet IRL?
Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...
ARC provided by Author/Publisher for honest review.
“Two different words. Two different loves.”
I was not prepared for this book. Leah Raeder is an amazing author, when I saw she had a new book, I didn’t even read the synopsis before clicking. I made some assumptions about what the book would be based on the title, Cam Girl, and the brief skim over the synopsis right before I started reading. I was right, and yet so very wrong.
Vada and Ellis are best friends — inseparable. My heart bleeds for them. It’s been nearly two weeks since I read Cam Girl and sitting here to write this review, my heart is aching. Their story is one that will resonate with many people. And for those people who can’t or don’t relate, I hope it will open a window into understanding and acceptance.
“This was the problem with being so close. Friendship became codependence. Codependence consumed. When you possessed every piece of someone’s heart and soul, it was only natural to want the flesh too. Skin, bone, blood.”
One accident and four lives are irrevocably changed. You think you know the truth, but you’ve barely scratched the surface. Raeder is almost like a queen of deception. She writes in such a way that you think you know the answers, but you’ve deceived yourself. You took what she showed at face value and didn’t see the obvious things right in front of you.
As I was reading, I had it all figured out. I knew. I just knew. When things started coming to a place of wrapping up, I was still confident. I was wrong. So very wrong.
Ellis and Vada are toxic together. They love each other desperately, but when it comes to defining that love, everything falls apart. It was a devastating journey for me as the reader. I wanted so much for Vada to quit tripping on her hang-ups and for Ellis to be strong enough to keep holding on. At some point, I became a third wheel in their toxic relationship; so sucked into the story that I forgot that they are just characters and I am just the reader.
“You fall in love with it a little. Depression. It’s an abusive romance. It hurts like hell, but you don’t want it to stop, because at least hurt is a feeling. At least it reminds you you’re still alive.”
The night of the accident, Vada lost her dreams. Everything she wanted for herself and for Ellis was smashed just as thoroughly as the metal of the cars involved. She lost her art, her best friend, and the love of her life. Ellis lost the hope that Vada would figure out her true feelings. And Max lost his son, Ryan.
Max seeks solace in the ugliness that has become of Vada’s life and they feed off each other’s misery. Bleeding each other, digging at wounds so they can never heal, yet somehow they keep each other afloat. The dichotomy is beautifully disturbing.
“This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even in sleep there is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.”
An unusual opportunity comes to Vada in the form of a job — cam girl. Having already hit rock bottom, and having few other choices, she jumps head first into her new life as Morgan. Her alter ego becomes very lucrative for both her and the company. Things are looking up, finally … and then Ellis walks back into the picture and things start to blur. The biggest rule in camming is to not get personal, easy enough to do, until Blue. He’s possessive and doesn’t want to share. And he doesn’t want Morgan the cam girl, he wants Vada.
As Ellis and Vada start the arduous journey to finally healing, Morgan is finding comfort in Blue. How can Vada choose between the girl she’s always been afraid to love and the man she sees as everything she’s always wanted?
“My love is savage and rapacious. It isn’t content to touch. It wants to be inside, crawl into the marrow, caress each vein until the cells are all mixed up and there is no you and me anymore, no secrets or shadows sliding between our skin. Only this endless devouring of each other.”
So many secrets lie within the pages of this book. Truths that most of us refuse to see; not only in this fictional world, but in our everyday lives too. The things that I take away from reading this book are that the power of acceptance and the divine ability to forgive are and forever will be the things that set us apart as people.
Cam Girl is a beautifully tragic story of love and loss … a powerful tale of acceptance and forgiveness. This book will speak to me for the rest of my days. It will be one that I come back to, friends I visit from time to time. Vada, Ellis, Max, Blue, Skylar, Morgan, and Ryan hold a special place in this book whore’s heart.
“… Maybe we needed to break a little, so we could put ourselves back together more beautifully than before.”