Book Review – Good by S. Walden

by Maryse on September 7, 2013 · 18 comments

in My Book Reviews

Good (Too Good series 1)
Okay first… I loved it. This is the ultimate “forbidden love” story. A student-teacher romance book that dares to explore the more… taboo parts. I’ve been avoiding it, ’cause it took risqué (in this genre) to another level and I was nervous. I’ve always played it safe with the student-teachers, choosing to read only the “college-aged” versions (after all, they were all consenting adults – so the taboo aspect was cut in half). In those, what we are dealing with is more of a social/regulatory standard (influence of power issues, potential for biased grading and an overall disruption in the student body if it was ever to be discovered). Taboo, yes, but not such a big issue for me, in the grand scheme of “right and wrong”.

With this one? I held off for weeks, ’cause while the subject matter was right up my alley, and I was receiving some very convincing recommendations, I struggled like mad with the character’s age.

Melissa: Good is sooooooo GOOD!!!!! Yes it is a tried and true teacher falls for student theme but this book delivers and it is the heroine that sells the story to its fullest. Cadence is a senior in HS whose personality is quite the conundrum (or dichotomy as the hero Mark describes it). It is the perfect mix of being naive and wise beyond her years. There are several scenes that had me laughing out loud. Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger (it seems like every book under the sun does these days!!!) but it is so worth checking it out!

Tiffaney: I just read a teacher/student romance for the first time, it’s called “Good (Too Good) by S. Walden!  It was soooo good!!

Rachel: Arson messed me up, too – in the best possible way!  I HIGHLY recommend Good by S. Walden.  It took me right out if my Arson hangover – again, in the best possible way!

YES, Rachel!!!! This was the first one to really give me that extra-thrilling jolt again, that I experienced with “Arsen”. Exactly!

Yep… last night, the temptation proved to be too strong. Or maybe I was too weak in my need for something… BIG. It was calling me. Reminding me that I was looking for that reading *jolt* and comforting me with the fact that it was… just fiction, after all. There’s no harm in that. Others have read and it loved and and survived it to read again. It couldn’t corrupt me (with it’s delicious love story). I couldn’t corrupt it, with my insatiable need for intensity. We were safe on opposite sides of the pages.

Ha! Safe. confused This one did exactly what I knew it would do to me. It gave me that exciting forbidden romance… all of the illicitness, need and desperation intensified by simply… not being “allowed” and the alarm of it (and for good reason!). It took away my safety net, and as I fell with them, I landed smack-dab in the middle of their mess and flip-flopped like a fish out of water, my appalled logical side warring with my silly silly heart. And both sides of me were practically equals!!

“Now who are you in love with?” she asked,

The word slipped right out. “My math teacher.”

Fanny’s eyebrows shot up. “Couldn’t pick an easier one? He can’t exactly take you to the prom.”

Tee hee!! Yep some comedic relief, too (thank goodness for that!)

And just like I knew I would, I reluctantly went NUTS for it and read it in one sitting, no matter how badly I was struggling with it. With myself.

“I know he’s cute. Very cute. And very smart. And very manly.” I rested my face in my hands, elbows propped on the table. “And very off-limits.”

“Those are always the best love stories.” Fanny replied.

“Which ones?”

She sipped her tea. “The dangerous ones.”

There was absolutely nothing that could tear me away from this potential train wreck. Sure… I had a good idea of what was “coming” but what was really holding me, was my need to indulge, and to sink further into the crazy emotions I was feeling.

I stared at my ceiling, empty of everything. Empty of goodness. Empty of bad. I had nothing to guide me, no direction, no intentions, so I made the decision to go.

To continue swooning, slowing down… imaging *that* sooooo sweet scene… and simultaneously facepalming.

This story owned me for a good… nine hours? Yep. Whoa! That sounds crazy. I haven’t read that many hours consecutively in ages! And judging from how badly my neck and shoulders hurt this morning, I  don’t think I moved a muscle other than to have random panic attacks with my our reading crew on Facebook. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I couldn’t do this one alone, and I so very badly needed someone to assure me that they “got” me, ’cause I was feeling all sorts of wicked.

I found one of those funny e-cards saying “It’s wrong, it’s naughty and it’s forbidden. That’s why I want it” and shared it in our group, saying “Sounds like the book I’m reading… ;) ”:

Rebecca: Okay, I have to know. What are you reading??

Maryse’s Book Blog: Rebecca… a student/teacher romance. What else? LOL!! Oh and it’s at the “sweet caring” stage right now… But I know what’s coming. Oh boy do I know. See? Naughty and forbidden. I know better… and I know it’s gonna hurt, but I must continue reading. It’s called: Good (Too Good) by S. Walden

Kirsten: I finished it yesterday and LOVED it. Yeah I know it’s all sorts of controversial, but the writing is wonderful, and umm student/teacher romance… I just can’t resist.

Maryse’s Book Blog: Ohhhh he is sooooooo sweeeeeet and soooooooo BAD!!! Why do I always act surprised when the truth comes out? I know it… I anticipate it. And then *poof* I’m all… “Whaaaaaaaa? Eeeeeeeep” and then I swoon. And feel a bit creeped out. And just the sweetness in the way he… Okay. I’m stopping here. I suppose if I were to be objective… I wouldn’t be swooning, I’d be fuming, but you know. It’s fiction. And what u said, Kirsten. The writing is so good!

Maryse’s Book Blog: O.M.G. I just melted. Ohhh the subtle, gentle detail in this one is exquisite. And the other side of me says…. GAH! So wrong! Ick! And yet… See the sign above. I am soooo struggling with myself right now.

Maryse’s Book Blog: Okay. I am just *eeeeeping* right along, here. My notes are a mass of eeeps! Eeeeeep!

Kirsten: I can’t help it. I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t help it. It’s probably so silly but when a book causes me to question my own morals and belief systems I can’t help but love it. I want to feel torn, conflicted. Look at something in a different light. You know?

Maryse’s Book Blog: Ohhh yes. I know. Do I ever. I am having so. Much. Fun! And yet… I’m appalled. Best time ever!

Kirsten: LMAO. I’m already anxious for your review.

Maryse’s Book Blog: This is my review: “eeeeeeep! Swoooon. OMG help me! Eeeeeeep. No. Way! Gah! Ack. Swwwwwooooooooon. Sooooooo wrong. Sooooo YES! OMG thank goodness for *that* bit of info” and so on… kidding. I’ll try to be coherent. but you get the picture…

Jill: Ooh. Just finished that last week. It was pretty naughty.

Maryse’s Book Blog: YAY ME!!! I mean… *slaps hands*… BAD ME!!

Niki: The student/teacher books are ones I just cannot bring myself to read. Being a teacher myself, those books just plain creep me out!

Maryse’s Book Blog: I guess the subject matter just blows me away. Like horror novels.

Samantha: Lol…i tell my husband all the time…its amazing in fiction, not so much in real life!

Maryse’s Book Blog: Yep. I can handle it, I suppose. In books. And even this one I delayed like crazy. I was tempted, but kept getting stuck ’cause of the age thing. I usually go for the college ones. But I just kept hearing how great this one was. I finally gave in…

Tasha: K, that one just jumped to the top of my TBR….starting it now

Lou: Had to stop reading “Against the Ropes” and go get this one…I can’t keep up!

Cathy: Okay, I just bought it and am starting it immediately if it has you ‘eeeeeping’ that much…lol

I don’t think I’ve ever been as delightfully conflicted reading a book before. Okay, I have. ;) But this is another to put in that category. Sure, I’ve struggled with themes of infidelity and melodramatic love triangles, flip-flopping back and forth with what team I’m on, what’s right and wrong, and making (or accepting) excuses as I allowed myself to experience the warring emotions. But this? Oh this is a whole other ballgame. THIS is the kind of risqué subject matter that I’ve tried to hold at bay. And you know me. I love those clandestine guilty pleasures. ;)

So what’s it about?

After spending a year in “juvie” (for being an accomplice to a pretty bad crime!!) good girl, and strictly Christian raised Cadence is back for her last year in high-school, but is now officially an outcast amongst her peers.

It was ingrained in me: I was the clichéd product of a girl who grew up in church, who went to vacation Bible school every summer until sixth grade, who attended youth group in high school and sang solos on Sunday mornings.

Bullied, tormented and friendless, she struggles to keep a straight face and just get by. Having lost her best friend, and not feeling the love at home either (her disappointed parents have taken away all of her privileges), she’s feeling abandoned.

I thought about my parents who were so angry with me, had not forgiven me for my “big mistake.” That’s what they called it: “big mistake”. I couldn’t draw sympathy from anyone for my pain and loneliness. It was pain for losing my best friend, losing the trust of my parents, losing my “good girl” standing at school. I didn’t realize how much I missed it – that I preferred to be regarded as a naïve virgin than what everyone was calling me now: a whore. I needed someone to feel sorry for me, and I knew Mr. Connelly did. I was greedy for sympathy and decided to make him feel guilty.

But handsome and young looking (I just feel the need to get that out there… I dunno why… ;) ) Mr. Connelly (her new math teacher, also known as “Mark”) seems to truly see her. Helps her. Comforts her, and chats with her. Tutors her. And while her crush intensifies, and his inappropriate (yes!! Inappropriate. I’m sayin’ it!) feelings for her deepen, innocent moments become so much more.

He smiled up at me. And there it was. The look that suggested he saw something in me that I didn’t. Something magnetic that compelled him to touch me at school when he knew he shouldn’t.

And it’s so sweet.

“You’re the saddest thing I’ve ever seen, Cadence. The loneliest thing I’ve ever seen. And any chance I get to see you smile, I’m gonna take it.”

And creepy. Yep… my notes truly are a mass of Eeeeeeps! And each time I eeeeeped, you know I was simultaneously feeling… giddy. ;) I was a breathlessly flustered, heated mess.

Okay STOP HERE for those that don’t want to know anymore. I’m going into “analyze the story” (or analyze myself) time. No spoilers really, but I do delve into stuff (and how I felt about stuff) that you might want to experience on your own, without my version of emotional-events. Go into this unbiased and then come back and see if you felt what I felt, below.


‘Cause you know what the the weird thing about this story is, for me? It was kind of… ugly (excitingly so, but ugly nonetheless). I dunno if I was supposed to see the “beauty” in two souls finding each other, age-be-damned. That soon enough she’d be 18, to his 28 and eventually, even that wouldn’t be a big deal anymore. Oh don’t get me wrong, I was feeling her, AS her, every step of the way… so I was crushing hard, too, and LOVING the romance, indulging in it. Reading some parts in slow-motion, backing up and reading it again, as my heart palpitated in glee.

But there was something about the story, as it unfolded that spotlighted a different angle. I had glimpses of private thoughts, facial expressions, primal urges and dominant power-rushes… that unnerved me. I wasn’t actually comforted by the fact that she was “older than her years” wiser or more mature – as Mr. Connelly would say. He might see it… but I sure didn’t.

The story didn’t comfort me with the fact that he could protect her from some “terrible and torturous home life” and that in the grand scheme of things (right or “wrong”) this would end up being better for her. Nope. ‘Cause in reality, all was fine on the home front. She was safe, and simply being disciplined, and had hurt her parents… but they were coming around.

Yep. Even though they convinced themselves (or maybe tried to convince us – and thank you for trying)… the reality is that these characters are simply messed up! She’s immature, at times, bratty and exactly who she needs to be at 17. She’s a teen. She acts like one. In fact, sometimes I found her to be even younger, mentally, than her years would indicate. She has moments of clear-headed maturity and would revert right back to a bratty defiant teenager/kid…

“Enjoy the rest of your day, Cadence.” Mr. Connelly said.

You enjoy the rest of your day,” I shot back. I sounded like a moron.

… and that’s what’s to be expected with someone so sheltered.

And him. Don’t get me started on him. Okay yes, my “hot-for-teacher” heart crushed on him. He’s gorgeous, strong, protective, smart, and just… *wow*. Sure, I melted many-a-time, with some of the sweet things he’d say, or how “tentative” he acted with her. The bear-hugs and deep (and sweet) inhalations as he seemed to just want to absorb her. Couldn’t get enough of her. How careful he tried to be, with her.

But my logical side kept saying “Ick!!!” … ’cause… come on!! Right? What’s the matter with him!!??? Sure she’s pretty and shy and sweet. But she’s a kid and acts like one, and!!! How could he (someone who could easily get any woman he wants) be attracted to that? And sure… her insecurities, and her obvious sadness, the weight-of-the-world on her shoulders “thing” is calling to a need in him. But that’s just the problem. She’s so vulnerable, needy, confused…  and her crush on her very caring and handsome teacher (who’s practically her only friend) is a dangerous one. ‘Cause he gives in to it. Actually… pursues it, himself.

Playing with fire!!

And a few times, his own actions would prove to me that there was something very wrong with him. And very wrong with his need for her. Some of the stuff he’d say to her. GAH!!! Sometimes sweet, sexy, sometimes eyebrow raising, and yet sometimes… predatory.  My cheeks would heat up in a swoon, and I’d “Ick!” at the same time. From protector to predator, I didn’t know who I was dealing with, and it was THAT, that gave this book it’s different “twist” from the other student-teacher romances. ‘Cause this didn’t give me a “better for them in the long run” feel.

This one was different, because – in MY eyes – there was nothing innocent, or easily “overlooked” or excused, about their relationship. Their attraction was primal. To me, it was a greedy, needy, consequences-be-damned love story. Or lust story. And I was right there with them! But maybe in the end, this might turn out to be as “beautiful” as I wanted it to be or might as “wrong” as it seemed to be… ;) But I’m not saying anymore.

Ahhhhh *phew* Okay. I think I got it all out of me. ;)


*sigh* yesssssss… it does have a cliffhanger, so I’m not quite sure where it’s going (and I can appreciate that). A story like this, with the twists and reveals that have already been exposed and those that still need to be exposed, needs another installment. And no, I don’t regret reading this even with the cliffhanger. It gave me just what I was looking for. Intense reading excitement! The ultimate guilty pleasure. That thrilling jolt that just never let up.

“Love comes in all kinds of packages. Some are neatly tied up, and some are messy. It doesn’t mean that the messy ones aren’t every bit as good.”

5 stars for how it made me feel, and for the fact that I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t ravaged a book this fiercely in awhile. Oh sure I 5-star loved some, but I devoured this one was on a primal level, almost yielded to it completely, and fought it tooth and nail, too. The ultimate guilty pleasure! *squee*


4 stars for… heck I dunno. I just can’t give it a full 5 stars and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m a bit overly creeped out and still in repentance-mode. That, and a few of the crazier, more savage scenes towards the end that had me wondering if they were actually needed in a story already so adrenalized. Kind of took “over-the-top” to a new level. But then again, this new… weird “raw intensity” might actually be foreshadowing what’s to come in part two…

4.5 stars!

P.S. Here are most of my book-notes. No spoilers below, but skip ‘em if you haven’t read the book yet. And if you decide to read the notes anyway, don’t go “assuming” anything (or that they’re about any character in particular). ;) Hehe. I couldn’t help but post ‘em, ’cause you see I was pretty much flipping out and having the time of my life! ;)

  • LOL! Brat!
  • Ohhh playing with fire and awwwwww soooooo sweet
  • “My God” is right! *whoooooooo*
  • I was just thinking that of myself… <— (sidenote: about the “very bad girl” reference)
  • Whoa.
  • Eeeeeeeeep!!
  • Omg help!!
  • And this is where I’m creeped out. She’s so childlike… not wise beyond her years.
  • Eeeeeeeep!!
  • Eeeeeeep!
  • Predator?
  • Omg!
  • Wow. Author reallllly went risqué.
  • Yep. I’m squirming.
  • This book sucked me right in and I’m spending the entire time fighting it, forcing myself to keep one foot OUT of the book so I can keep reminding myself that this is not me, and yet she still managed to make me swoon no matter how hard I fought it.
  • He’s a nut.
  • LOL!andhelpme! <— (sidenote: that’s right. By that part I was so frantic that I lost my ability to use spaces).
  • I can’t stop giggling.
  • a nutcase!
  • Nice!
  • Eeeep! Totally me. <— (side note: in reference to her inability to lie and her weird impulse of wanting to scream a certain “truth” out. I TOTALLY *got* that.)
  • Everything about this book is so creepy and so good.
  • I am having the best time ever, and yet, I’m appalled.
  • OhhhhMG this is just sooooooo bad.
  • Oh thank goodness for at least that morsel of reprieve.
  • O.M.G!
  • What an ass!
  • *sigh of relief*
  • Ick.
  • sidenote: and then I went silent for awhile as I read fervently…
  • WHOA.

4.5 stars!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sadie September 7, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Oh I’m reading this as we speak!! So glad you loved it…I’m only 40 percent in but am hooked!

Anne September 7, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Intriguing review Maryse – looking forward to reading this. The age of consent in the UK is 16, so don’t feel quite I *ick* about it! Great to have a teacher/student book with a bit more of an edge though. Thanks for the review.

Maryse September 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Sadie let me know what you think, and how badly it makes you squirm. hehe!

Maryse September 7, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Anne, good to know! Actually it comes out that the age of consent in her state is also 16 or 17, but there is still alllll that grey area. And the characters both had personality traits that made this whole thing *iffy*…

I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Lise September 7, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Wonderful review, Maryse. This book did not sit well with me. I liked it, but it was not great and did skeeve me out quite a bit. Loved Going Under by this author, though! :-)

Maryse September 7, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Yep! Definitely tested my limits. Skeeved and squeamed me and still… through her eyes, you know? But since I mostly review on “feeling” (if the writing is good, that is), well… the fact that I reacted so intensely and couldn’t put it down. The fact that I kept debating with myself, yelling at them, and still swooning at certain spots, I couldn’t help but, you know. Love it. Heh. ;)

Sadie September 7, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Couldn’t put it down either – always a sign of a good book! Struggled with a few elements (her age and immaturity, his interest in her, etc) but read it straight through and wish book 2 was waiting because I’m curious where it will go…

Danna September 8, 2013 at 4:56 AM

This book made me cringe, fan myself, and think WTH all at the same time. I loved it. I loved it so very hard but man, *cringe* man. It just didnt feel right. However, I can imagine myself at that age and had I been fortunate to have a hot teacher, I probably would have crushed on him. :) Where was my Mr. Connelly? Dang it! I am so ready to read the next one!

Lia September 8, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Once again you change my TBR list and I love it: ARsen is fantastic heart wrenching emotionally angsty story, am at 70% and… OMG!!!! OMG!!! I have to finish right now … oh boy! that book…When I finish I have to go for Good! Sounds GOOD is so good , hope Good can fix my heart after Arsen… loving it…

Ali September 8, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I really enjoyed this! Looking forward to part 2. Thanks for the recommendation!

Margaret September 9, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Love this! On S. Walden’s blog she shares two sneak peaks in the second book Better.

Shannon September 9, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Ok, I may be the only one here, but I wasn’t creeped out at all. What does that say about me!? lol. She did turn 18. If she was any younger, it totally would have been creepy. For sure. I guess because they technically met BEFORE they met in school, it really downed the ick factor. That’s just me. But yeah, she was really immature at times, but she was new to relationships.

Rachel September 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Thanks for getting me out of a book rut with this suggestion! I felt the same way you did, Maryse. In it, but also a little skeeved. Side note: I know a girl whose husband was her youth leader and is ten years older. He started pursuing her when she was 15 and be was 25. ICK. He absolutely gives me the creeps, even though he’s 40 now and they’ve been married for years. Anyway, I couldn’t help picturing him a little as I read Good, and I didn’t like that one bit. All that said, I couldn’t put this down and am looking forward to the next one!

Rachel September 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM

I am so glad you loved it! It was definitely a good creepy for me! :)

Patty October 6, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Absolutely loved it… do we have any idea when hook 2 will be out.

Roni October 24, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Ok so I am only 47 percent in…and Mark is swoon worthy!!!! I love that he feeds her :)

Lea Marika October 28, 2013 at 4:29 PM

I am almost done with this, and I have to review book 2 soon. Your little summary is exactly how I have been feeling. Like, why couldn’t he have been like 24 lol. But the behavior between the two is more of an issue for me, too. Not to mention the description of her being so tiny and young looking! Anyhow, it’s so hard not to love it, though. It reminds me of Want by Stephanie Lawton a little in that way, except that heroine was pretty mature. I got the ugly aspect as well…It’s like, these two are hell bent on self destructing. Man, I don’t know how it’s going to end, and I am anxious to find out yet so hesitant to continue. I just know crazy things are about to go down.

Lisa K November 8, 2013 at 11:56 PM

LOVED! LOVED!! LOVED!!! I as well could not put this one down. Arsen knocked me for a loop a few weeks ago and until Good I hadn’t read anything that made me gasp, clutch my chest, or read with my mouth gaping open due to the fact I was practically panting at what happened by the end of the book. Yes, the story was at times creepy (I was icked out by how she repeated called him Mr. Connelly when they were alone!). But I really think Better is going to go deeper into Mark’s need for her and why their relationship is the way it is. I for one cannot wait until Nov. 19th!!

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