(Belated) ARC Review – Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

This is the motorcycle gang, platonic female friendship, YA adventure book I didn’t know I needed. I requested Done Dirt Cheap solely because Dahlia Adler – one of my favorite book bloggers and authors – said she loved it, and I trust her reviews (and also we seem to have the same taste in books). Also the cover is gorgeous, not that I judge books based on their covers…

Tourmaline Harris just graduated from high school and is headed to the University of Virginia in the fall. She’s trying to keep up the facade of her picture perfect life – athlete boyfriend, church-going best friend, sundresses all the time. But then her mother’s former drug dealer and boyfriend is paroled and starts stalking her, and her life cracks in a way that starts letting the complicated show. Like the fact that her mother is in prison. And her dad is the leader of a motorcycle club (the Wardens) with mysterious dealings and a terrible reputation. And she’s so attracted to the newest recruit that she can hardly stand it, but she’s not supposed to even talk to him.

Then there’s Virginia Campbell. Her mother sold her to a shady local attorney to pay her debts, and Virginia is now his low-level drug dealer and pageant queen. Her latest assignment – befriend Tourmaline, figure out what’s going on with the Wardens, and make him some more money. Seems easy enough. But Tourmaline is a lot more complicated and tough than Virginia gives her credit for, and their friendship is a lot more real than she was expecting.



3 Things I Loved

  1. Tourmaline and Virginia’s friendship. There are a lot of YA stories with friendships in them, but this one is different. It’s complicated. They don’t always trust each other, or even like each other. But it endures, and they defy their families and their handlers to protect each other, and it was a joy to read.
  2. CASH. OKAY. THIS IS WHERE I’M GOING TO GET EXCITED. I loved Cash. I loved him from the very first page he appeared on, when he was cooking for the rest of the Wardens and we didn’t even know his name. I loved that he actually talked about race dynamics with Tourmaline. I loved that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. I loved that he was college educated, and that he loved Tourmaline even though he wasn’t supposed to, and that he protected her when she needed him but let her do her own thing when she needed that too. I want more Cash (with or without Tourmaline).
  3. Motorcycles. I’ve read a lot of books, but this is the first one that wrote about motorcycles in a way that made me feel it. That made me actually want one. I was blown away.


“You’re a mountain road. Straightaways, sure but also curves that come back in on themselves and always threaten to wind around you, instead of you winding around them.” -Cash

Anything Problematic?

I’ll be honest – I was so engrossed in this book when I was reading it that I didn’t pick up on anything problematic in the text. However, since finishing it and raving about it, I’ve read some reviews from people who really didn’t like this book. They surprised me at first, but I get it. People had some issues with the age differences in the relationships – Cash is 23 to Tourmaline’s 18, and Virginia is also 18 where Jason is 28. I understand that, looking back. It didn’t bother me on the page, but yeah, these girls are barely out of high school. Also, Cash is black, and Weezie (a book blogger is respect a lot) pointed out that there was some fetishization happening in his relationship with Tourmaline. Since Done Dirt Cheap was written by a white female author, and Tourmaline (a white female) is the one telling the story, she makes it sound like she is irresistible, and that Cash would do anything to be with her, despite the consequences. This plays out more in the beginning – in the last half of the book, Cash is well aware of the consequences and confronts them head-on. This is why I follow other book bloggers – everyone’s different perspectives force me to look more critically at the books I both love and disliked.

As they say – everyone’s faves are problematic.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good, but not something I’d reread
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart

Even with the problems, I’m still going to give Done Dirt Cheap a BLUE rating. I’ll be rereading this book, for sure, but it’s not a unicorn. I haven’t found that unicorn yet, I don’t think. But some books have gotten close, and this is one of them (in my eyes).

This advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no bearing on my opinions – I would have loved this book no matter how I attained it, and have since purchased a copy.

More motorcycle-riding women, please! That’s what I have to say about YA.

Happy reading!



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