The Pepper Jones Collection by Ali Dean
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: June 15, 2015
Pages: 665 Kindle pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Sixteen-year-old Pepper Jones loves running, and she's fantastic at it, even though she's only been running a little over two years. In fact, she's well on her way to achieving her goal to become a national cross-country champion this year, while still a junior in high school. The only thing complicating her life is her long-term crush on her best friend, seventeen-year-old senior, Jace Wilder. They've been neighbors since they were toddlers. Pepper's parents died in a car accident when she was a baby, and Jace's mother deserted him and his father when he was four. Pepper's grandmother, Bunny, became her guardian, and she became Jace's chidlcare provider, too, when he lost his mother. Pepper regarded Jace in a sisterly light until the summer Pepper was thirteen and Jace was fourteen, and she suddenly became aware of how gorgeous he had become--and the unsettling reality that girls were flocking around him, vying for his attention, many of them physically pawing him in the process.
Unfortunately for Pepper, the odds of her ever being more than a little sister to Jace are slim to none. He's never flirted with her or in any way indicated that he has any romantic interest in her.
I already owned the first book in this series when I purchased this collection. It is a very cost-effective way of obtaining the first three books in the series, which occur while Pepper is still in high school. The final two books are New Adult rather than Young Adult and occur while she is in college.
In the sequels to the first book, I continue to enjoy the portions of Pepper's story relating to her experiences as a runner. I love female-centric, YA sports stories. I am less enthralled by the ongoing soap-opera-ish trials of her main romantic relationship with a classic YA/NA "man whore" hero and the inclusion of a romantic triangle, which I normally do not enjoy. However, I will not grade down these three books for that reason since many fans of YA and NA romance do not find that sort of thing a deterrent to their enjoyment and many mainstream authors offer the same type of romantic interest (see especially Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally).
I rate these three books of the Pepper series as follows:
Sports Plot: 5
Romance Plot: 3