When Natalie Rhodes left her house early that fateful morning to catch the bus to her senior class trip, she never expected to end up in a car with Colton Daynes – the guy she’s had a crush on since first grade, the guy who has no idea who she is. But when Colton’s irresponsible driving causes them both to miss the bus, the unlikely pair set off on a road trip from Michigan to Virginia Beach to catch up with their classmates.
From the little village of Middleville, the popular football star and the quiet gymnast will navigate back roads and highways, travel from lake towns to waterfalls to mountaintops and beyond, all the while fielding texts from Colton’s friends and mean girl, Lexi, who also happens to be Colton’s girlfriend and Natalie’s former best friend.
Hours spent together on the road will lead them to places they’ve never been, discovering hidden talents, revealing secrets and fears. And they just might realize they have more in common than they know.
What I Loved: 18 Hours To Us is fun and flirty. There is this tension and chemistry between Colton and Natalie that keeps the pages turning. But what I really liked was the message Krista was able to bring to the table about sex, love, and teenage relationships. We see Natalie dealing with temptation and the struggle to the right thing, which I found very realistic. The characters felt authentic, they acted, reacted, and talked much like teens. Over and over again, I kept thinking back to my teenage years. There’s something about the overall feel of the story that kept bringing to mind the old movie, She’s All That, or the newer, Geek Charming. 18 Hours To Us isn’t a remake of either but it is a classic teen story with a classic teen feel.
Rating and Recommendation: I give 18 Hours To Us 5 stars and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction or a romantic journey story.
~ I was given an early copy by the author. I chose to review it and all thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.
Grab a cup of coffee and sit a spell as I talk with Krista about her latest novel.
Where did the idea for 18 Hours to Us come to mind?
Last spring, my daughter went on a trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park with her 8th grade class. We had to get her to the school super early in the morning, and while waiting for the buses to arrive, my mind wandered and I thought, “What if someone missed the bus?” I kept thinking about the teenage drivers who squeal their tires out of the parking lot every day after school and that led me to the idea for the book–two teens on their way to catch the bus to their senior class trip and one of them causes the other to get in an accident, making them miss the bus and have to ride together to get there. Two unlikely people stuck in a car for two days. And the road trip fun and romance ensue.
What is your goal for the novel?
There are some more serious topics within this story (depression, bullying, suicide) that I’ve touched on. They are hard topics, and I hope some people will relate to the struggle. My daughter dealt with some bullying in her middle school years (not to the extent that Natalie did in the book), but it’s a very real problem, especially if you’re the one being targeted. I tried to show the reasons behind the bullying in this particular case as well, and there’s also a good lesson in forgiveness. While this book is pretty sweet and light for the most part, I hope that I did this particular part of the story justice.
What scene was a favorite to write?
Oh goodness. I’m not sure. I loved writing the dialogue and cute banter between Natalie and Colton. It came pretty easily to me, and they are pretty adorable. I think one of my favorite scenes is when they finally make it to Virginia Beach. They are standing in the water after splashing each other and he hugs her and tells her that he’s glad he got to see the look on her face when she saw the ocean for the first time. “He hugged her. So tight she felt like crying.” That part brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know why. It’s just sweet, and it’s also when they are about to part ways and go back to their own little friend groups when the buses arrive. They are both confused after the bond they developed on their trip.
What do we have to look forward to from you in the future?
I have a couple projects in the works right now. One is a contemporary/historical romance set at an amusement park that once existed here in Michigan. Another is a contemporary second chance romance–a wedding photographer and her first love are reunited when he’s the best man at the wedding she’s photographing.
Eeek!! Sounds exciting! Will you ever return to YA fiction?
For sure. I have a YA dystopian trilogy in the works. The first two books have been written. The first is in the editing process, but I have no solid release plans for those yet.
Having 2 teens, do you see either of them in any of the characters?
Natalie definitely has some of my daughter’s personality. She’s kind-hearted and loyal and forgiving. She loves her friends and gymnastics and Jesus. There might even be a little of my son in Natalie’s personality–more on the quiet side with a few close friends. My daughter is the opposite–loud and outgoing with a lot of friends (maybe more like Colton).