Review: One & Only by Viv Daniels

January 30, 2014 / 8 Comments / Review, Uncategorized

One & Only (Canton #1)
Author: Viv Daniels (website | twitter)
Source: eARC sent to me by author

Format: ebook, 264 pages

Publication date: November 8th 2013 
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance (some scenes definitely R rated)
My rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

One night they can’t forget…Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right.


Truth: this review has taken me MONTHS to write. This is my fourth or fifth attempt to write it. Why? Because One & Only is one of the best books I read in 2013. I’ve read it three times, cover to cover, and read specific scenes and chapters over and over, since November. And yes, I realize I’m saying that about a romance novel, which I never read until…this book.
Here’s the deal: When I heard that Diana Peterfreund was self-publishing a romance novel as Viv Daniels, my first reaction was…”WHAT?!” Having stalked Diana a lot on her blog and Twitter, I know that she’s a real romance novel fan and has even been a cover model for romances. But a lot of her usual themes seemed bit more feminist and scientific than I ever thought could be covered in a romance novel.How wrong I was.

Guys, I don’t know how to tell you how much I loved this novel. The concept is amazing and original: we get a lot of stories about cheating in YA, but not often ones about illegitimacy and long-term mistresses, and how it feels to be the daughter of, well, cheaters.
The characters…just feel so real. Tess is a super ambitious science student and such a brainiac, and the book is definitely as much about her finding out who she is as it is about the romance. I was not prepared for how many feels I got. You will ache and pine with Tess, and you’ll want her to succeed, because generally, her life kinda sucks. With a dad who won’t acknowledge her in public and dictates her every move, a mom who’s a lifelong mistress…it’s just a terrible situation.
But through all that, you’ll also be amazed by how awesome she is. This is a girl who has picked herself up over and over, who has had to endure the worst of everything, who has watched while her dad constantly chose another family and another daughter over her, and despite that, she’s still funny, sassy, and focused. She’s determined to get the best education, determined to fulfill her own potential, and determined to prove herself. It’s really inspiring.
And Dylan, her love interest. Guys, this guy is SMOKING HOT. I can’t even think about him without fanning myself…this is the book boyfriend we all want. Reading his words is enough to get even the most unemotional girl in the gut. He’s seriously sexy, he’s a brainiac, he cooks, and he never stops thinking of Tess.
I can’t say enough good things about this novel. My reading experience was one total, can’t-put-down moment: I read from 6pm until about 4am. I had to know what happened and I could NOT STOP. I laughed, ached, and fist-pumped so hard at so many moments. I was so immersed in Tess and her story that I felt every swoon and every conflict like it was my own. And when I was finished, I just wanted to go back and read the entire thing again.


Unpredictable, Yet Satisfying Plotting: I don’t know how Viv/Diana does this, but she always manages to plot her novels so that I can’t guess what’s happening next, but when it does happen, it makes total, perfect sense for the plot and the characters. It helps that her writing totally draws you in and makes you forget everything but what’s going on right then. Masterful!

Romance Novels FTW: Coming to One & Only as someone who has never read a romance novel, I was expecting a lot of sex, not very much plot, and definitely not a lot of well-drawn characters. Even though I knew it was Diana/Viv writing, I still couldn’t get over my own stereotyping of the genre. Guys, I was so wrong. One & Only is definitely more about the characters and their own searches for identity than it is about sexytimes, and I was so impressed by this romance that I went and read a few more over Christmas (stay tuned for reviews!).

Sexytimes: Speaking of which…when there are sexytimes, they are HOT. I was blushing for a lot of the book (especially when I was reading in a coffee shop!), but the good thing is that none of those love scenes felt over-written or purple. They definitely feel earned.

Real Science: Remember how I said I didn’t think Diana/Viv could fit in scientific themes into a romance novel? WRONG. Tess and Dylan are hardcore science geeks – there are words and ideas in the book that I hadn’t even imagined. It’s clear that Diana/Viv did her research, and it was really cool to learn about bioengineering in the midst of a steamy character novel. That said – don’t get scared off by the science if you’re not into it – the book will guide you through it.

Reunion Story: I should mention that I’m well aware that Diana/Viv LOVES reunion stories. This is her best one yet. I really felt that the break from the beginning, where Tess and Dylan are young and trying something new to when they’re older and more mature, worked SO well. I was so invested in them at the beginning, and the reunion only intensified that connection.


Realistically Awesome Secondary Characters: One thing I really appreciated is that Viv/Diana never writes characters that are cardboard cut-outs – there’s always more to them than just Shallow Rich Girl, or Sassy Best Friend. They always have backstories, and they always feel real. You’ll particularly appreciate finding out more about Hannah, the More-Than-Meets-The-Eye Shallow Rich Girl who is Tess’ half-sister (and upcoming star of book two in this series!).

The Final Word:

If you like romance at all, you NEED to read One & Only. It’s definitely one of the best novels I read last year. Don’t be afraid of the romance novel or the New Adult genres – what I learned from this experience is that if One & Only is how other New Adult Contemporary Romances are, then I need to be reading, nay, gobbling up the entire genre.

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8 responses to “Review: One & Only by Viv Daniels

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