I will admit that stepbrother romance stories are a guilty pleasure of mine. I know that there have been a ton of them released over the last year or so, and honestly I am one of those that has trouble saying no to any of them. So when I found out that Jen McLaughlin was releasing one, I was really excited since I am a huge fan of hers! Bad Romance had some really great moments, and I genuinely loved Jackson and Lily together. But this wasn't all that I had been expecting, and honestly it was hard to get through at times.
Brought together by the marriage of their parents, Jackson wanted to hate Lily. She was a good little rich girl doing whatever daddy told her to. But she was also the only one in their house that was kind to her. After sharing a kiss and being discovered, Jackson was told to leave and never return. He joined the Army, and now seven years later he is a completely different man. When he comes across Lily in a bar, he is as drawn to her now as he was seven years ago. He knows that he needs to stay away from her, yet he finds himself needing to set things right after ignoring all the letters she sent after he left her years before. But Lily is set to marry a man that she doesn't love in order to save her daddy's company, even if she doesn't want to. Jackson is determined to help her be a bad girl and think about herself for once in her life, but the more time together the more he wants her for himself. Soon Jackson and Lily are both trying to figure out how they can possibly be together when they both know that it is impossible to do while in the world they live in.
I really liked Jackson. He was so sexy and a really good guy. Though he had hurt Lily years before and was trying to keep his distance, it was clear that he was doing what he thought he had to in order to do the right thing. He cared about Lily and knew that she deserved the best. But I really loved how protective he was of her, and it was obvious that he was drawn to her unlike anyone else. Time and distance hadn't changed the pull that they had to one another, and I enjoyed seeing them together and getting to know the people they were now. Lily was the one I had issues with. Though she had moments where I really liked and admired her, she also really irritated me. She kept saying she had to marry Derek in order to save thousands of jobs, but honestly it didn't come off to me as the selfless act that it was supposed to be. It came off as weak and as her inability to stand up to her father. She had never even put a toe out of line, and she was pretty much a doormat to whatever her father or stepmother told her to do. It got really annoying, and there was one scene where her stepmother comes in while she is in the middle of something, and she drops everything to just run off and do as told. That was the point that I really disliked Lily the most. I felt so badly for Jackson, and I honestly hated Lily in that moment. While Lily and Jackson had great chemistry and a strong connection, I wanted her to grow up and start living for herself. I thought it took far too long for her to get to that point.
As I said before, there were some really great moments in this book. I really liked Jackson and I liked when he and Lily were together and she wasn't being the weak and naive little robot she had been trained to be. But overall, I just had a tough time getting over her and how much I disliked her here. This one didn't really feel forbidden or taboo consider their ages and the fact that they hadn't even grown up together. Besides one kiss when she was 15 and he was 18, they were both of legal age with no relation whatsoever. Add to that the forced marriage situation and the awful cliched controlling parents, and this one just missed the mark for me. I love Jen McLaughlin, but this one was just okay and unfortunately fell flat. If this one sounds like something you might like, or if you are a fan of stepbrother romances, you might give this one a shot. But for me this just wasn't what I have come to know and expect from Jen McLaughlin. I know I will read more from her in the future though, as she is a great writer and has written some fantastic stories that I loved.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**