Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills: ARC Review

Title: Very Bad Things
Series: Briarcrest  Academy, #1
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Release Date:  September 9, 2013

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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.

Ilsa Madden-Mills has blown me away. This is one of the most fabulous and wickedly smart debut novels I have ever read!  EVER!  It's sexy, smart, heartbreaking, and just plain phenomenal.

The blurb does not do this book justice.  This is in no way what I expected... at all.  I expected a spoiled rotten rich brat who was rebelling out of boredom. Nora isn't bored, she's seriously messed up with issues bigger than the spiders in Texas.  This may have YA/NA characters, but the story is certainly not immature or light. It’s a “darker” storyline that deals with really real issues. 

I have to be honest and say that at the beginning, I wasn’t really feeling Nora…. AT ALL!  I know it’s because I had this idea in my head that she was a spoiled rich kid doing things just because she could.   That thought couldn’t be further than the truth.  Nora may be rich, but her life is far from the perfect appearance she presents – an appearance she’s more than ready to shed.  And when she does, a perfect storm of events and secrets follow.     

Ok, let’s talk characters for a bit.  Ilsa’s bio says she “writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.”  Well, she certainly has created a wonderful mix of loveable, damaged, and eccentric characters here. Nora has to be one of my favorite heroines of all time.   She’s absolutely incredible – intelligent, quirky, and wise well beyond her years.  I think Nora’s quick wit, sharp tongue, and her peculiar coping habits are what endeared her to me. She’s perfectly imperfect.   Nora really is the ultimate heroine for me.  Which brings me to Leo….. 

He’s yummy and hot with a heart of gold, but he seriously is the “sexy alpha male that sometimes you just want to slap.”  Slap???  Slap??? I wanted to more than slap him at times.  I wanted to kick him in the balls for Nora.  But, Nora really held her own when it came to Leo.  I was beyond impressed with how she played her cards.  You do not want to go up against that girl in a poker match.  She may be 19, but she can seriously kick your ass without realizing it before it’s too late.   (I know, all of my thoughts come back around to Nora.  Can you tell I am seriously girl-crushing on her???  Really, I am in love with her.)  You can’t help be fall in love with each and every one of these characters, even the ones I haven’t mentioned (well… except mom, dad, and brother). 

Ilsa Madden-Mills really has some wicked sharp writing skills. Her writing style just adds to the flow of story and gives you that can’t-put-it-down feeling.  I think my favorites thing about Very Bad Things are the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  They are positively brilliant and clever.

Very Bad Things is definitely one my favorite reads of the year! 

*** Here’s my advice if you read the blurb and decide it’s not for you: IGNORE IT AND READ IT ANYHOW!  ***

4.5 STARS!!!!

Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She spends her days with two small kids, a neurotic cat, and her Viking husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels.

When she’s not typing away at a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.

She loves to hear from fans and fellow authors. Drop her a line on the contact page.

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