Eastside Brewery, Book #2
Heat Factor: It’s hot friends. SUPER hot.
Character Chemistry: Very much based on sexual chemistry
Plot: Eddie’s bad decisions impact his life all over the place, but he’s having some difficulty extracting himself from them
Overall: I enjoyed this much more for Eddie’s growth arc than for the romance
This book was already on my radar when it won a Ribbie last year, but when it did, I bumped it up my reading list. The story is told from the POV of Eddie “Trouble” Rosas, and it begins shortly after he’s released from prison. He has an interlude with a mystery woman in the community garden where he lives, and can’t stop thinking about it. He has to find her. Six months later, when he gets a new job as a dishwasher, he finally meets her – Chef Carmen Centeno.
Carmen has known Eddie since forever – they lived in the same neighborhood as children – but he didn’t recognize her on their night of wild sex. Now that he’s found her, he doesn’t want to let her go. But she’s a success and he’s…a mess.
The romance was engaging, but if it had been the only thing going on, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this book. What really makes the book is the imperfect mess that is Eddie. He’s on a mission, searching for the father he believed to be dead, continuing to make decisions that jeopardize his path to the straight and narrow. You see, Eddie is:
- A gangbanger who is covered in prison tats and who spent five years in prison for grand theft auto
- Unable to hold down a job and completely broke, living pretty permanently on a friend’s couch
- Jeopardizing his parole by going places and doing things that he shouldn’t in the search for his father
- Also jeopardizing his parole because he’s unable to leave the gang and has to carry out actions on its behalf
- Called Trouble because he’s been getting into some kind of trouble since he was a little kid
In short, Eddie is not a romantic hero that dreams are made of. Typically. But the world that Hopkins has created in East Side Hollenbeck is complex, and Eddie’s journey as he tries to figure out how to be a responsible adult living the life he really wants after growing up in a world of epic dysfunction, with the deck stacked against him, is difficult but beautiful.
Trashed is a heartwarming story without being all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, there are very few rainbows, and I often shook my head at Eddie’s terrible decisions. It’s a gritty story with wonderful depth.
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