Blog Tour - Very Wicked Things (Briarcrest Academy #2) by Ilsa Madden-Mills ~ Ava's Review, Excerpt and Giveaway
I got out of the shower and dressed hurriedly, anxious to get back to Cuba.
The door opened, and like he did it every single day, he stepped inside the steamy bathroom.
“Think I need a shower, too,” he said, his fingers easing off his football practice shirt.
Trying to play it cool and failing miserably, I moved my eyes off his naked chest and checked out his track pants and the obvious bulge he sported.
Oh. Did his lower body match the rest of him? Was it all sinewy muscle and big?
Just, yeah. That thought got stuck in my head and went round and round.
“You staying?” he asked, a grin working his face. Pleased at my open admiration, probably.
“No,” I said, but made no move to go. ‘Cause I had no shame when it came to catching a glimpse of his muscular body.
“Good,” he said, his smile broadening.
He pivoted to turn on the shower, and my eyes betrayed me again, admiring the muscles in his back, checking out how they twitched and rippled when he moved. Football and rowing had been good to him. My fingers itched to know how they’d feel underneath my hands. Which was stupid because we had nothing in common. Not a rich Highland Park boy and a poor girl from Ratcliffe.
And most importantly, he was a player, not to be trusted.
He hooked his thumbs into his pants, paused a moment—maybe waiting to see if I’d run from the room?—but when I didn’t budge, he slid them and his underwear off. My mouth opened. Cuba Hudson, the most popular guy at Briarcrest was standing right in front of me, naked and beautiful. And like the cocky bastard he was, he posed for me, his big-ass biceps and chiseled abs making me vibrate all over. Need for him slammed into me.
Did I say he was hot?
Well, I was wrong.
He was off-the-charts, no-holds-barred, freaking going make-me-lose-my-mind-right-there delicious. The ultimate man-candy, the kind I knew to stay away from, yet here I was, ogling him.
“Still leaving?” he asked huskily.
“Any minute,” I said in a weak voice, backing up to the wall and propping myself up. “Just chillin’. Shower wore me out. I might need to hold this wall up for a sec.”
“I want you to stay,” he said, eyes at half-mast, glowing with heat.
“Why?” I said, aching to touch him. But that was crazy. I was a virgin, and I didn’t know jack about touching a guy’s you-know-what.
“Look at me, Dovey.”
I tore my eyes from his manhood, blushing.
His eyes burned. “There’s a sense of urgency in my head. Like our time is limited.”
I nodded. Yeah, same here.
“And, I’ll be honest, I don’t want to rush you, but I’m dying to sink into you. I want to set you on fire with need for me.” He ghosted his hands over the steel rod between his legs. Once, twice, and—holy shizzle, he didn’t stop.
My chest rose faster and faster, and I tried to chill-out, but I couldn’t.
He lowered his voice. “Kiss me again, Dovey.”
Oh. “That’s a terrible idea, Cuba. Cause you’re naked, and I’m turned on because you’re naked. And you’re touching yourself. And you’re naked.” I sucked in a sharp breath. “Not a good combo. Odds are we’ll end up in that shower together or back in your bed doing the double-backed monster.”
“Then join me in the shower. I’ll be good. For you.” He arched his back, his hands still doing that back and forth that was driving me insane.
Liar, liar, pants on fire, I thought. No way he would he be good.
Because he was the Heartbreaker of Briarcrest Academy. And one wicked boy.
"Love and pain. You can't have one without the other."
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
I adored Very Bad Things; I didn't think it could get much better than Leo and Nora that is until Dovey and Cuba collided. I can't say which couple I love better as I adore them equally. Ilsa Madden-Mills certainly creates beautifully complex and endearing characters.
The only impression I was given of Cuba previously was that of his player lifestyle. In fact, when I heard it was his book next, I actually felt a little deflated (#TeamSebastian over here!) now, after reading this book? Best decision ever! I fell hook, line and sinker for Cuba. Yes, his reputation is well earned. He is a player, he loves female company usually for one night (in some cases not even as long as that) but it's true what they say: money can't buy you happiness and Cuba had an abundance of one and a deficit of the other.
In Very Wicked Beginnings, it introduced Dovey and Cuba but what we didn't know was they already had a past by the start of Very Wicked Things. It was clear from the start that they had shared something special but it had gone horribly wrong. "I gave you my heart, and you destroyed it." And we were teased mercilessly throughout the book as it was revealed slowly.
Cuba's home life struggles exposed his vulnerable side and of course that's what makes me fall quicker for a male MC. Cuba has some unresolved issues from his past, he carries around a lot of guilt and has never dealt with it properly. That is until Dovey Beckham comes into his life and for the first time in a long time she makes him feel again. And just maybe, if Cuba can forgive himself, he may experience something wonderful.
I loved Cuba's character he had me from hello. It was obvious he was carrying around a lot of guilt, loss and regret, in turn that made him feel unworthy of Dovey, and he was punishing them both by not giving in and being with Dovey as he felt she could do better. The more vulnerable side of Cuba had my heart breaking.
"I wanted to lie down with her on that bed until our breaths were in sync; I wanted to hang on to her like I'd die without her; I wanted to touch every hair on her head and bury my nose in her scent. And it wasn't a sexual thing. Not at all. Because she was so much more. She was someone who'd loved me at one point, and right now, I just needed some forgiveness for the things I'd done."
"I bowed my head and yes, yes, yes, I wanted to sink into her softness; I wanted to drown in her gentle touch; I wanted to fall to my knees and cling to her waist for a thousand years. I just needed this, her. I leaned into her, inhaling her wildflower smell. Regret filled me for the love I'd thrown away when I'd used her."
"When you wear that necklace, make a wish for us, that we make it," he whispered in my ear, and I detected the same need in his voice I felt in my body."
Dovey Beckham is the type of female character I love to read about. She's tough, independent and resilient. She didn't have the best upbringing but what she did have was determination and no matter her start in life she was going to reach her goal regardless. I loved that about her and I was on Dovey's side immediately. I could tell whatever had happened between her and Cuba had hurt her deeply and she was reluctant to trust him again but you can't deny heat and chemistry and Dovey and Cuba were a perfect match.
As I was reading the story, I was greedy for information (and perhaps a little impatient) as I really wanted to know what had happened between them. I was thinking should this have been in the prequel and I missed it? But not to fear, if I had more patience I would have appreciated the build up of angst as their past was slowly revealed. It was done really well and by this point, I just wanted them to be together and reach a happiness they both deserved.
Dovey and Cuba never had it easy and I think that's what connected me to them. Ilsa has a way of creating thought provoking story lines. Dovey had tough decisions to make and undoubtedly I would probably be the first to say I couldn't understand of agree with what she did but life isn't black and white and I was surprised that I didn't have an issue with her decision. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Dovey was just trying to survive. Her family meant the world to her and she set out to prove that.
There was undercurrent of sexual tension throughout the book and even though Dovey and Cuba were at odds with each other for most of the story, Ilsa did a great job of maintaining the chemistry. Cuba and Dovey were hot, and I'd follow him into a barn any day of the week ;-)
"He kissed me so long and hard and perfectly until I was convinced I would die from suffocation but I didn't care. Who needed to breathe? Kissing Cuba Hudson was a good way to die."
"He kissed me hard, like I needed, his mouth vicious, his tongue an explosive invader. And just like all our kisses, it wrecked me with too much heat, too much need, too much everything. It broke me up in tiny pieces and then stitched me back together again. I'd take whatever I could get, and if this furtive moment was all he had for me? So be it."
The last 20% of this book had me on the edge of my seat, it all started to kick off and I went into full on panic mode. How was this story going to be resolved in a few chapters? I worried at one point there was going to be a horrible cliffy, or worse the ending would have been rushed. My fears were unfounded and the end of the book was my favourite part. It was so tense (in a good way) and I didn't know which turn the story was going to take. I was enthralled to the end. And I found myself smiling as I read the last few pages, it was really well done.
I really enjoy Ilsa's writing; my attention is always held from cover to cover. I highlighted so many passages due to the beauty of the writing alone and when that is topped off with real, fascinating characters it is a real treat. I can't put my finger on what makes this one of my favourite New Adult series', I think it has to be the combination of great writing, original story lines and endearing characters. I loved every moment and now I excitedly await the next!
Very Wicked Things is a fantastic read, it can be read as a standalone but then you would be missing an equally brilliant story in Very Bad Things, so I suggest you read the entire Briarcrest Series today!
"Don't you see what's going on? Dovey, we don't need to sleep. . . because we're falling in love."
"When you love someone, it doesn't matter what kind of past or problems they bring. Love covers a lot."
"Stay with me," he said, kissing my shoulder. "Let go. I'll catch you. Every single time."
"He loved me. He'd said so. I had to let go and just trust. Love is hard to define; it just IS. And, I don't know why we fell for each other, two people from opposite worlds, but I knew I had to hold on to it, fight for it."
"He'd lost hope. And in that moment, my already big love for him grew. It changed and shifted into something as deep as the ocean and bigger than the universe. My soul ached for his; my body yearned for his touch. I didn't want to exist without him in my world."
"I remembered the first time I'd seen her dance, and how my heart had known she was mine. I hadn't understood why she called to me; she just did."
"if there's such a thing as a soulmate. . .he's mine. It hurts to breathe without him"
"I don't know, somehow, my hope came back, but it's not complete. You're a light I need. Like a thousand fucking suns."
"And if it takes me getting down on my hands and knees for you, I will. I'll beg you to let all your past go, and I'll let mine go, and we'll start all over again."
"And something happened. Clicked. Nothing crazy or freakish, but an important shift nonetheless. You see, it's corny but I believe only a few moments in your life possess special magic, and I believe each person is allotted only a handful/ And, as the love I wanted was happening right in front of me, trust for the future settled its warm feathers around me. . .My somedays were all coming true."
Prequel Novella, Briarcrest 1. 5
All May proceeds will be donated to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund for Suicide Prevention...
Girls say I’m a walking, talking sex god. Guys call me Hollywood because my life is golden.
But, ESPN did rank me as a four-star recruit, calling me one of the best defensive players since Briarcrest Academy opened its esteemed doors. So yeah, with football and a stellar GPA, my future seemed good.
Then Dovey Beckham shows up in her short skirts and ballet shoes. Driving me insane. Making me want to beg for her attention.
But that wouldn’t happen, because Cuba Hudson didn’t beg for
She walked around BA like she owned the place, and most days she looked right through me…the one girl I couldn’t have.
So, of course, I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.
Because no girl can resist the Heartbreaker of BA.
But I never planned on destroying her.
I never planned on wrecking the one thing that could save me.
Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, where wicked love begins…and ends.
Releases May 13, 2014: Add to Goodreads
Book One is currently on sale!!
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
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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.