Rating: 3.5 stars!
The journey that the main character, Sophie, went through was challenging and hard, but it was beautiful to see her transformation. It was like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. Sophie struggled to move on from her past, struggled to find herself. It was like she was suffocating inside a cocoon, with no room to breathe and no light. No matter how many times she tried to scratch the surface and break through the hard barrier, she couldn't seem to free herself. Inside her own mind, she was living in hell. Physical pain doesn't hurt her, but the emotional pain is killing her. Slowly, it's draining her, emptying her of happiness and peace. It takes a very special guy to break through her defenses and bring her back to life.
I have to say, though, that at times I was very annoyed with Sophie. She came off as very judgmental, harsh, rude, and she was very distrustful of everyone and everything. As the journey went on, her growth as a character blossomed into someone who gained the courage to stand up to the monsters in her life.
I get that she had a hard life, I do. But that also doesn't give someone, not even a fictional character, the excuse to go on living life with the coldness of a Michigan winter. I was surprised she still had friends who stuck by her side, friends who don't even know her very well. She never told them about what happened to her when she was ten, and she never told them what happened with her ex-boyfriend, Jack. She has secrets; deep, dark secrets that still control her life.
And only one person has been able to unravel those secrets. Myles. Resident vampire. Anyway, so Myles is this mysterious new guy in town. Typical, right? Except Sophie wants nothing to do with him. In fact, when she first meets him, she is so rude I'm surprised he still tried to become her friend. It was just that personality of hers that really pissed me off sometimes. He was a great friend to her, always willing to be there for her, still sticking around after that sometimes awful personality of hers was trained on him. He's got secrets himself, so he understands Sophie and her need for secrecy. He was perfect for her; she needed him to help her through everything, to make her see that not all men are the same. Well, except he's not exactly human.
Oh, but the vampires don't show up until well into the book. Actually, there was hardly a vampire aspect to the book at all. I'm not sure if it was the author's intent to make this book about Sophie's journey and transformation more than about the vampires. So, I don't know yet how all of the vampire aspects fit into the story. Honestly, I'm not even sure it needed those elements. It could've stood alone as a contemporary romance. Because, until literally the very end, there was very little told about Myles and the vampires. It was kind of skimmed over, with Sophie asking occasional questions when she gets curious about them. She's very open to it.
If it had been me, I probably would've freaked out more if I knew the guy that I sorta, kinda liked was a vampire. And that he was over four hundred years old. But this was Sophie, a girl who's been hardened by life, who's been hurt by monsters in her past. So I understood why it didn't freak her out. She's dealt with monsters before; she knows who they are. And Myles is not a monster. She knows the difference, because it doesn't matter that he's a vampire. He's still ten times the man than some of the humans she's known in her life.
Sometimes monsters disguise themselves so well you don't realize that they're monsters until it's too late. You check all of the usual places: under the bed, in the closet, behind the shower curtain, around that suspicious, dark corner of your room. No, some monsters don't look like monsters at all. But they are, have been, and always will be.He makes her feel safe for the first time in years. He makes her question how she's been living her life, and he makes her feel protected. And that's what Sophie needs: a man who can give her comfort, protection, and love. A man who can look past her scars and ugly wounds and still love her for who she is on the inside.
I also wondered about these vampires. Myles has abilities: he can feel what other people are feeling, he can hear their thoughts and sometimes see clear images in their heads. He's also got that superhuman strength and speed. But he says that some of them have evolved and grew over time. He only needs to drink blood a few times a month, and he doesn't ravage humans. He uses a blood bank. Ten points to the author for making him a lovable and sweet vampire. The author also didn't talk about his friends, Adrienne and Alex, and if they have the same abilities as Myles. Sophie doesn't even know they're vampires until at the end, when there's an old, scary evil vampire who wants Sophie dead. Why, you ask? I have no freaking clue! Like I said, not much about the vampires was explained. And it didn't even seem like a paranormal book. So, I'm left wondering about the second book, Sun Poisoned, and if we'll find out all these mysteries and secrets about this vampire society.
All in all, I really enjoyed the story. Yeah, Sophie wasn't my favorite heroine who's graced the pages of numerous books I've read with a female POV. But she had one thing I love: character development. It makes them more 3-D, more real. Her voice flowed nicely, and her inner dialogue was well-written and believable. I loved Myles' character, and I would love more about these vampires and their abilities! The supporting characters were great, as well. I can't wait to read more about them in Sun Poisoned.
Sunshine was a very dark, gritty read. It deals with some painful situations that will have your heart twisting in knots for the main character and have you cheering for the happy ending.