Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
It started, for me, with Falling for Her, a bully-esque new adult romance that, quite frankly, tired me out. Yet…I couldn’t stop reading the books of that series especially as Monica Murphy piqued my interest in her most unlikely pairing, Eli Bennett and Ava Callahan, in Addicted to Him and Meant to Be. After that, she had me hooked by Diego and Jocelyn. Needless to say, there was no turning back from Murphy’s The College Years series. This group, Jake, Hannah, Eli, Ava, Diego, Jocelyn, Jackson, Ellie, Tony, Hayden, Caleb, and Gracie, were simply “meant to be.” And the stories that Murphy has created just draw you into this world. There are times, however, when the actions of the characters are childish and immature. As a woman of middle age, I wanted to throw my phone at the wall in frustration. However, as a professor of this age group, I was compelled. Obviously, Murphy is writing fiction and it’s hyperbolized, but there is truth here for sure. What is interesting and telling about the newest book in this world, The Senior, is the depth of story Murphy has created about Eli and Ava. I’m certain Eli spent so much time in Murphy’s head shouting at her to write about him and Ava, and write about them, she did.
At the start of this book, <spoiler alert> Eli and Ava are broken up. It takes much of The Senior for this to be remedied. If you’re a fan of The Callahans and The College Years series, Murphy is careful with their story. If you’re reticent to read it because you like them together (as do I), rest easy that she handles their story well. I don’t want to give away plot points because I’d hate to ruin the book for other readers. There is a way that, given their stories in The Callahans, she could have taken it, but Murphy might have alienated readers.
What you get from The Senior is redemption and maturity for both Eli and Ava. When we leave them in Meant to Be, they have their “happy for now.” Yet, Eli has yet to work through his pain of abandonment. Obviously, this plays heavily in The Senior, and Murphy takes the scope of her newest book to force Eli to heal this personal issue. While Murphy doesn’t heal it in a way that might be more reasonable, by the end of The Senior, Eli has changed, and he is a better man than he is at its start. If I have to mourn anything in this book (Murphy has promised another book so this book doesn’t seem like the end, hence I don’t have to mourn its ending), it’s the evolution of Ava. The Ava of The Callihans is different from the Ava of The Senior. Her drive and ambition to change the world have been muted, and I miss that version of her. It’s the reason I gave this book 4 stars.
I do believe that Monica Murphy has written Eli and Ava the best of happy endings, and they are beautifully resolved by the end of The Senior, something that had not been completed at the end of the duet of books in the earlier series. The epilogue of their story is a perfect storm of sweet, reminding you why you just can’t help reading this series.
In love and romance,