Publisher: Entangled: Crush

Love Between Enemies by Molly E. Lee

Love Between Enemies by Molly E. LeeLove Between Enemies by Molly E. Lee
Series: Grad Night #2
Published by Entangled: Crush on January 8th 2018
Pages: 221
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Zoey Handler is ready to put an end to her decade-long rivalry with Gordon Meyers. They’ve traded top spot between valedictorian and salutatorian for years, but all that’s over now. Right? But after a crazy graduation speech prank gets out of hand, suddenly their rivalry turns into all-out war. Time to make peace with a little friendly payback.

Step one? Make him believe they’re now friends.

Step two? Show him the time of his life at an epic graduation party.

Step three? Don’t fall for his tricks.

Step four? Absolutely, positively, do not kiss him again.

So what if he’s cute? (Okay, hot.) So what if he’s charming? (Heaven help her, tempting.) So what if he apologizes? (That has to be fake.) She knows the real Gordon. And no matter how much her heart begs her to stop, there’s no turning back.

Ah…enemies to lovers. it’s a trope that I can’t ever resist and ‘Love between Enemies’—as formulaic as this trope is—delivered that rivalry in a high-school setting. Throw in a badly mis-timed speech done out of hurt and overreaction and a rather mischievous plot for revenge that has bigger repercussions than initially thought about, and something entirely different and unexpected comes out as the end product.

Molly E. Lee captures the teenage mindset rather well, as Gordon and Zoey battle it out, humiliate each other (whether intentional or not), then realise that they’re better together than against each other during the grad night party where they realise that beyond the rivalry is a chemistry they can’t deny.

There were scenes that made me wonder how much of the rich-girl, entitled bitch Zoey was going to be, which in contrast, made Gordon seem almost like the perfect, articulate, mature 18-year-old that I don’t see too often in fiction. Nonetheless, I definitely appreciated how Lee didn’t go overboard (not too much at least) with the drama that some YA/NA books tend to revolve around. All’s well that ends well in a HFN ending, albeit somewhat sweetly but abruptly, considering that the whole shift from shift from rivalry to something else took place over a mere 2-ish days. But for characters on their way to college, with their lives ahead of them, it’s probably the best we can ask for.

three-stars

Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen

Operation Prom Date by Cindi MadsenOperation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen
Series: Tactics in Dating #1
Published by Entangled: Crush on March 13th 2017
Pages: 190
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.

The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

If you ever need a good ol’ teenage movie with that particular kind of drama and a particular kind of angst that assail teens finding their footing in college and adulthood, I’d say ‘Operation Prom Date’ is the best fix for it.

There’s nothing unpredictable about the story but there are also no surprises that threw me off and left me clinging on a cliff’s edge. The friends-to-more trope is tackled here and there really isn’t a waiting time where one party is suddenly hit in the head about how attractive the other person is. Instead, I was struck by how natural Cooper and Kate were as they went from barely knowing each other to liking each other…and how attraction simply came because they talked and did things together, which is more than what I can even say for some of the more ‘adult’ books I’ve read where mature characters regressed in age.

The honest truth is, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. With characters that behaved their age and some storm-in-a-teacup moments, stories like these have that propensity to make me look back with those rose-tinted glasses I thought I’d misplaced long ago.

four-stars

Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley

Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey TrombleyPushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley
Series: , #1
Published by Entangled: Crush, Entangled: Teen on January 16th 2016
Pages: 169
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

Myra goes to Haiti with one goal: take the photograph that will win a scholarship and prove to her uber-traditional family that she has what it takes to be a photographer instead of a doctor. Her camera has always been her shield against getting too close to anyone, but she didn’t expect the hot teen translator who has an ability to see past her walls.

Elias needs his job as a translator to provide for his siblings. He can’t afford to break the rule forbidding him from socializing with a client. Except this girl Myra insists on going outside the city to capture the perfect picture, and he steps in as her guide in order to keep her safe.

The deeper they travel into the country, the harder they fall for each other. Now they’re both taking risks that could cost each other their dreams.

If they get too close—it could ruin both their lives.

A trip to Haiti is just what Myra needs to prove her worth in something else other than being a doctor, but what she doesn’t count on is the Haitian translator who pushes her beyond what she is comfortable with.

Much of the story reads like a positive reinforcement of—or an argument for—cross-cultural exchange and cross-ethnic pairings, as the differences between Elias and Myra are emphasised and celebrated. But there’s also the acknowledgement that with it comes familial disapproval and the ramifications of starting a relationship that can’t possibly have a happy end. Combined with the teenage angst and the rebellion that comes with parent-teenager conflicts, I found myself ready to give up when Myra’s reticence in letting people in crossed the line into ignorance, selfishness and stupidity as the story wore on.

Unfortunately, it’s simply not a story that resonates with me at all despite Stacey Trombley’s very positive attempt at portraying the difficulties in a relationship that defies stereotypes and gender expectations. While I did like the heart-wrenching descriptions of Elias’s family situation and the conditions that the Haitian people face, the happy-for-now ending seemed somewhat implausible, even as it cutely marked the start of something hopeful.

two-stars

The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley

The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. HighleyThe Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley
on November 14th 2016
Pages: 202
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.
Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.
Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.
But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

‘The Bad Boy Bargain’ is an incredibly sweet read about appearances and reality…and for a very refreshing change, how a bad boy’s cultivated image doesn’t at all match who he really is as a person.

The revenge plan and the bargain Kyle Sawyer strikes with Faith Gladwell drive the plot, but I think Kyle himself is pretty much the standout in this for me. For most part, I was intrigued by how Kyle juggled both versions of himself and will probably remember the book for this alone: the bad-boy player versus the sweet but hot landscaper (!) who actually does have some sexy moves without knowing it. And knowing that the sweet boy lay beneath was strangely more of a turn-on if only for the unfamiliarity of it all when horny player teenagers who suddenly look for commitment when the right girl comes along pepper this genre.

The usual teen issues about identity and change don’t bear down too heavily here and I did like how events wove themselves around Kyle’s and Faith’s getting together without Kyle having to effect some massive personality transplant at the end. In any case, this surprised me – in a good way, might I add – and made for a light but entertaining afternoon.

four-stars

All Laced Up by Erin Fletcher

All Laced Up by Erin FletcherAll Laced Up by Erin Fletcher
Series: Breakaway, #1
Published by Entangled: Crush on October 10th 2016
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Everyone loves hockey superstar Pierce Miller. Everyone except Lia Bailey.
When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.
But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.
Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one…

This very cute and earnest story is easy to blitz through, filled with a warm, adolescent energy that is…well, a far cry from the type of books I’ve been indulging in. And it’s a refreshing change, focused on different sports on the ice as well as two people coming together from opposite directions in more ways than one.

Lia and Pierce skate through the pages with a realism that I can’t fault, and I enjoyed every bit of the buildup of the tension between them. But as much as I liked Pierce’s enthusiasm in the way he tackled life – and failing at times – it was easier to get frustrated with Lia’s inability to own her identity and to go for what she wanted.

‘All Laced Up’ is a fun one nonetheless, pitched perfectly for its genre with an ending that doesn’t promise more than it should beyond the blissful snapshot of teenage crushes and dreams on the cusp of becoming reality.

three-stars

Resisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown Roberts

Resisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown RobertsResisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown Roberts
Published by Entangled: Crush on July 25th 2016
Pages: 206
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

Spirit committee leader Mandy Pennington is secretly in love with her best friend, Gus, but when he hooks up with her archenemy at a party, she decides to win him over once and for all. She just doesn’t know how. But who better to help than hot loner Caleb Torrs?
Caleb’s got his own problems, but when he sees Mandy pining over Gus at a party, he thinks she’s finally smoked the spirit stick and lost her mind. Maybe he has, too, because he just asked Mandy to be his fake girlfriend.She’ll get her loser friend’s attention, and he’ll get his stalker ex off his back.It’s a win-win.
But soon one fake date blends into the next and before he knows it, he actually wants to kiss Mandy. For real. Too bad their plan is working, and Gus is finally noticing the one girl Caleb just might be falling for…

Not quite the book for me, sad to say. ‘Resisting the Rebel’ feels too juvenile and too campy – even by Entangled Crush’s standards – and lays the clichés on thick with the brooding bad boy and a flighty, rainbow, navel-gazing girl who are opposites in every way.

It’s probably perfect for teens whose greatest worry is securing a date for the school dance and keeping their grades up amidst the million of social activities they juggle, but this book made it especially hard to connect with any of the characters, particularly Mandy Pennington who came across as silly and full of air (while projecting some weird new-age vibe) than unusual and quirky. The seventies and hippie references coated the entire story in multi-hued shades of tie-dye and by the end of it, I thought I deserved some weed that I managed to get through it.

two-stars

Pieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher

Pieces of You and Me by Erin FletcherPieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher
Series: Pieces of You and Me, #1
Published by Entangled: Crush on April 18th 2016
Pages: 200
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Five years.
That’s how long I’ve been gone. Since I left my best friend—the girl I loved—behind.
Five seconds.
That's how long it takes to realize I am completely, utterly, screwed. Because now that I’m back, my childhood crush has turned into so much more.
Rylee has changed. We both have. And now I’m drawn to her in a completely different way. To her smile. Her touch. To reliving old memories and making new ones. To the happiness she’s always given me that I haven’t felt since I left.
But her friends are hell-bent on keeping us apart. My dad is one drink away from destroying both of our lives, and maybe I am, too. It’s only a matter of time before I have to leave again, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I never get a choice.
The one choice I can make? Stay away from Rylee. Because if I don’t, I’ll break her heart—and mine—all over again.

‘Pieces of You and Me’ tells a story of how young lives and friendships are affected in troubled homes. Chase Walsh’s unexpected return in this case – five years since he’d upped and left due to familial circumstances out of his control – proves to be the perfect opportunity for him and his former best friend to pick up the broken pieces of their friendship. And with it, there lies the possibility of something more as both teenagers find their feet in their rapidly expanding world of career and college choices.

There’s the prerequisite level of teenage angst and rebellion that’s entirely expected and the voice/tone of their reflects this perfectly. But Chase’s and Rylee’s anxieties seem more muted than writ large, more mundane than exceptional – for instance, the day-to-day narrative as they tried to hide their newfound relationship from their friends while exploring what they have together – and I found myself looking for a ‘plot direction where there didn’t quite seem to be one up until the conflict truly hits at the three-quarter mark of the book.

This was a quick read nonetheless and a decent look at the fickle nature of friendships; I only wish I could say I’d been more invested in it.

three-stars