Dark and mysterious, Mandy Hubbard's latest novel Ripple is her first venture into paranormal romance. She gives us Lexi, a girl with a tragic past, a girl whose heart slowly breaks every single day she's forced to go on after a terrible tragedy took someone she loved from her. Cursed with a dark and deadly secret that requires her to swim every night to keep it locked away, she shuts herself off from the world. But someone tries to draw her out and she's faced with a difficult decision: return to the life she once had or stay away and keep him safe. And alive.This book was mystical and dark, haunting and heartbreaking at the beginning for Lexi. She's flawed and broken, stripped down until all that's left behind is a soul left raw and aching. It took nothing for this book to completely suck me in and refuse to let go. She's still sweet but mysterious, trying to notch out a very confused place in the world for herself. Think Brenna Yovanoff's Mackie from The Replacement, but with less horror and sirens instead of dark creatures living underground.Because of what happened to Lexi, what she did, she closed herself off to protect everyone else. By doing that, she lost almost all her chances for human connection and interaction. The problem is she needs to let someone past that massive brick wall she's put up before she dips down too far below the surface. She needs someone to pull her up out of the water, which is at odds with the curse that holds her back.The chemistry Lexi has with Cole was realistic and believable. All of Mandy Hubbard's characters were believable. She's crafted this wonderfully executed glimpse into Lexi's life with all the hangups and complications and highs and lows of being a teenager and going to high school where your former friends have turned you into a social leper. Her pain and fear and loneliness is so clear and profound. Castoffs and castaways need to find somewhere to belong, but if they're alone for too long they get wary of social interactions, like when Cole approaches Lexi over and over again to bring her out of her shell.This book is beautifully written. I'm completely in awe of Mandy's writing and Lexi's voice. My heart would crack and tremble and shatter along with hers. There's such realism here but so much dark magic as well. My one dark wish would be for a sequel or perhaps a companion novel so I can go back to that world, return to that lake off in the middle of a forest so I could dip my toes in the cold water.