Unlawful Contact - Pamela Clare Meet Marc "Hunt" Hunter:

The resident bad boy who everyone knows will end up in jail, Hunt believes Sophie to be the prettiest girl in school, but never approaches her because he thinks there's not way he stands a chance with someone as sweet and smart as her. He secretly dreams of becoming an astronaut but joins the army instead.

Meet Sophie Alton:

After her parents' death, Sophie comes to live with her grandmother and dreams of becoming a reporter. In her new town, the straight-A nerd covertly crushes on the school hottie but knows there's no way he'd be interested in her when he could easily have any of the gorgeous, curvy seniors who constantly flock him.

After an unplanned night of passion neither has forgotten, they meet again after twelve years. Sophie's a very successful reporter and Hunt is, as predicted, in prison. Hunt escapes from prison with Sophie and both try, separately at first and then together, to find Hunt's runaway sister and niece.
“You know what kept me warm at night?” He leaned in closer, brushed a strand of hair from the satin of her cheek. “I kept thinking about this beautiful girl from my hometown. I only spent one night with her—just one night—but it was the sweetest night of my life. She gave me her virginity and told me to shoot for the stars. I tried, Sophie. I tried to shoot for the stars.”

I liked Sophie and Hunt's story from the very beginning. I'm a sucker for childhood romances that develop into so much more as the couple grows older, and this particular teenage love story is no exception. The chemistry and connection between Hunt and Sophie is evident from the get-go and I'm surprised at how well Clare portrayed the otherwise clichéd romance between the troublemaker and the geek.
Don’t let go of her, Hunt. Don’t let go of Sophie. Don’t let her out of your life.
If only he’d done that one thing…

My heart always melted whenever Marc was unexpectedly gentle with Sophie. I loved how their relationship was clearly built on so much more than just lust - there was also respect, care, honesty, understanding, and most of all, excellent communication between the two. Their relationship represents love at its best and it was thoroughly engrossing watching it develop from a teenage crush to an obsession to unadulterated lust to the point where Sophie helped Marc heal and get over his traumatic past.

Sophie was a great heroine, and I couldn't sum up her personality better than Marc:
“You’re the smartest, bravest, most wonderful, most beautiful, most precious woman I’ve ever known, Sophie Alton. When I’m gone, remember that.”

Nonetheless, the one character that really made me fall in love with this book and give it a 5-star rating is Marc. He's one of the sweetest, most loving and caring men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. It's so unfair what happened to him and how much he had to endure on behalf of his sister, and I've never been as happy to read a HEA ending as I did his. He so deserved it.
“No happy endings?”
“For you, I hope one day. Not for us. Not for me.”

On a side note, I admit I rarely read through the entire acknowledgements, but I always make it a point to read the dedications. It generally gives me a glimpse into the author's life and sets my impression of the book. And while I've read quite a lot of dedications over the years, none of them have touched me as profoundly as Clare's, and this one was one of the most bittersweet of the lot:
This book is dedicated to the memory of Leah Rhiann Clifton, who died in her mother’s womb in a prison cell.

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