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The Straight Crimes by Matt Juhl

“The Straight Crimes,” the debut novel of Matt Juhl, is an electric love story between Jones and Nik, set in a world where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are discriminated against.

After moving from Louisiana, Harper Jones meets Nik Roberts on the last day of school at Silver Shores High in Michigan. Even though classmates glare and call her “redneck,” fearless Harper stands up for herself and even defends Nik from bully, Ricky Wiley, who calls him “queer.”

Soon after their date to the carnival, Nick opens up to Harper about the physical abuse he had suffered all his life from his father, Jett, and Harper tells Nik that her junkie mom, Mindi, had set their Louisiana home on fire purposely, which was why they had to relocate to Michigan and live with Aunt Faye.  

Harper and Nik’s undeniable attraction makes their hearts skip beats and long for more of the other, but the perfection of their relationship is scary given the negative attitude of the world toward heterosexuals.

It becomes too much for Harper to deal with, so she seeks friendship with Traci Galva who is kind to her, especially after Harper is evicted due to her mother’s continuous drug use.

The greatest element of this book is Juhl's flawless and descriptive writing style. Juhl excels at painting the scene, setting the context for each interaction, and hooking you until the end to have the enormous tensions that build up then resolve.

“The Straight Crimes” is a very well-done romantic suspense novel that makes the reader ask big questions about society with engaging characters and a gripping plot.

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