Review: Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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VBTVery Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)
Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: September 9th 2013
Format: ebook
Pages: 389
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about…until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.

This is one of those books that completely took me by surprise! I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I was immediately drawn to Very Bad Things because of it’s pretty cover and synopsis. I had it on my iBooks shelf for a while, and once or twice I was going to start reading, but for some reason, never got a chance to. When I finally picked it up a couple of months later and started reading, I quickly fell in love with the characters and their voice!

From the very beginning we see our main character, Nora Blakely, shedding her good-girl image by going off at her school at the Welcome-Back-to-School! pep rally. Nothing says screw you like, well.. going off in front of the whole school, along with parents, faculty, etc. I fell in love with her right then and there. This isn’t one of those books where it takes the protagonist basically the whole book to start shedding her image. No, Nora does it from the start, little by little–from cursing in front of the whole school, to vandalizing some stranger’s car, to stripping in front of said stranger–all scenes I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Yet, while Nora may appear this total badass and fearless girl, she’s got some serious skeletons in her closet. Often you read about the rich girl who has everything, who then slowly starts to unravel, and in a way you could say Nora falls into that category, but at the same time she doesn’t. Every little thing Nora’s done–piano lessons, dance recitals, whatever cliche you want to insert here–everything has been orchestrated by her mother. One of the biggest tropes in books today deals with a girl vying for her mother’s affection. Very Bad Things gives you the aftermath–when you’ve done all you can do, said all you can say, and still be worthless and a failure in the eyes of the person who’s supposed to love you unconditionally. After Nora snaps, she comes up with this list of things she has to do in order to be bad. Not everything she does is on the list, but with every “bad” thing she does, you start getting a feel of the real Nora; with each piece of the puzzle revealed, you start to understand what she’s gone through and the hurt she’s endured, not just physically but emotionally.

Enter Leo Tate. He’s hot. Sexy. Sweet. Infuriating. Masculine. And did I mention hot? He’s also older than Nora by six years. When I read the synopsis and saw that there was an age gap between the love interests, I might have, sorta squealed a little bit. I was excited! I liked those kinds of tropes if done right. And Ms. Madden-Mills definitely got it right. Leo is the kind of guy you want as your best friend’s older brother. No doubt about it. He’s fiercely loyal, but most of all, he’s infuriating and there’s just something about a guy who’s so headstrong; it’s such a turn on. From the moment Nora and Leo lock eyes, their chemistry is undeniable. Strangely enough, one of the things I loved most about this novel was that the main characters don’t get together until the very end. Yes, it was very frustrating the back and forth between Nora and Leo, but in that time they came to really know and understand each other. Nora’s broken inside and Leo’s lost of his family, but the way the fit together is amazing. Even though Leo’s scared shitless to let Nora know he loves her, he shows her in the little ways. There were times when I just wanted to reach a hand inside the pages and throttle Leo! But in the end, he finally grew some balls and accepted Nora’s love. I gotta give it to Nora: once she realized she was in love with Leo, she was all in and she fought for him.

One of my favorite secondary characters (who I hope gets his own book) was Sebastian, Leo’s younger brother. Sebastian was definitely a charmer and one of the greatest friends a girl could hope for. I was so glad this book didn’t do the love triangle thing, especially with brothers, but if it had, Sebastian would have been a fit opponent. Nevertheless, I fell in love with Sebastian from the very beginning, right after his surprise over Nora’s “f*ck you!” statement at the pep rally. Another sweetheart that I’d love to read more about was Mila, Nora’s best friend. She definitely wasn’t your typical sidekick–being the shy, introverted kind–but she has a certain something that makes you smile, and you can’t help but love her.

Lastly, there’s a certain character that I won’t even mention because he disgusted me so much. What he did to Nora was truly despicable, but most of all was Nora’s mother’s reaction to the news. Even with evidence, she refused to believe Nora and protect her, and that made me hate her. Nora’s relationship with her father was a rocky one, but in the end he believes her and stands beside her–and that’s more than Nora expected.

Told in dual POV’s, Very Bad Things is a novel that takes you by surprise, grabs a hold of you, and doesn’t let go. The ride you go with Nora and Leo is one that you won’t want to get out of, even after you’re done reading. And Nora and Leo’s story is one that stays with you, long after you’ve read it.

5/5 Stars

add-to-goodreads

Check out the teasers below!

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