Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.
And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.
I was hooked the second I saw it described as Scandal meets Veronica Mars. Yes please. Two addicting shows would have to add up to an addicting book, right? It did. I could see immediately where the comparisons came from, with Tess’ sister being what they called a “Fixer”, an Olivia Pope of this book world. Tess’ determination to help her friends and figure out the plot of a murder was very Veronica Mars-like. It made for a great read.
Tess was a sarcastic character that I found myself relating to quite easily. She resented her older sister for disappearing from her life and she struggled to take care of her grandfather and his declining health. She didn’t want to move in with her sister and all the secrecy about her sister’s job and her connections to political elite was driving her crazy. She couldn’t help but want answers and, even after promising to leave things alone, she would get involved. There were many times she reminded me of Veronica Mars, which just made me love her more each time.
I loved the friendships she made at her new school. Vivie was her first friend and was a bright presence in the book. Asher was a trouble-maker but one you couldn’t help loving and smiling at his antics. Henry took a little while to warm up to since he was aloof toward Tess for so long but he was also very protective of those he did call friends. Bodie, Ivy’s driver and bodyguard, was older but also more than willing to always lend an ear to Tess when she needed it and gave off some big brother vibes. Ivy was the one Tess had the most complicated relationship with, understandably, but it was interesting and had a lot of give and take.
The mystery plot was intriguing and had enough twists to keep me guessing. It balanced scenes with lighter moments with the tension-packed scenes well so that the shift in tone didn’t feel abrupt or interrupt the flow to take the reader out of the book. I didn’t even realize I was so close to the end until the action started to wrap-up. I will definitely be picking up the sequel.