Rat Park (Lili’s Quickie Review)

Title: Rat Park
Author: Marina Vivancos
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: January 28th 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 377 pages
Reviewed by: Lili
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

Rat Park by Marina Vivancos was a surprising hit for me. It started off rough in the first 20sh%.


-Unfit parent
-Underage drug use. Reading about a minor snorting coke, injecting heroin, and smoking crack were difficult.

I put the book down and questioned if I could go back to it. After a couple of days, I picked it back up, and I’m glad I did.

That’s not to say everything was rainbows and butterflies, but it got better. The story is strictly told from Dominic’s POV as it is his story of healing and perseverance.

Some highlights:

-Although it is a longer book- it flows quickly and doesn’t feel long.

-Nice relationship development

-Moderate steam

-Character growth

-Friends to lovers

-The Romeros ♥

-And the end was full of hope.

++A couple of notes:

  1. Nothing happens between Flor and Dominic until Flor was 18 and the actual relationship doesn’t start until Flor was 21.
  2. There was mention of other boyfriends/hookups but never on page, and they made sense with the progression of their relationship. I saw it mentioned by other reviewers and didn’t want others to be put off.

This was a beautifully written story of friendships, believing in yourself, healing, and love.

I’ll definitely look for more books from this author.

4.5 Stars.


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I'm a romance junkie, who loves when books make her cry from heartbreak and happiness. A few of my favorite tropes: -Friends to lovers -Hurt/comfort/healing -Age gap NetGalley Member since 2015 2016 NetGalley Challenge 80% Professional Reader 2015 Challenge Participant