Review: Bad Romance by Jen McLaughlin

Title: Bad Romance by Jen McLaughlin
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 15, 2013 by RandomHouse/Loveswept
Format: eBook
Source: ARC courtesy of NetGalley
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

My Thoughts

Bad Romance is a contemporary romance that had a lot of promise but ultimately didn't deliver.

Jackson and Lilly's parents marry when she is 15 and he is 18. They are "family" for a total of five months when Jackson, who refuses to follow the path set out for him by his wealthy jerk of a stepfather, leaves to join to Army. Lilly was the only one to show Jackson any kindness and writes to him for years despite the fact that he never answers her.

Fast forward seven years. Jackson is back from overseas and accidentally runs into Lilly. Neither has forgotten the single kiss they shared the night Jackson left home. But Jackson is convinced that Lilly deserves better than him, and Lilly is being coerced into a marriage of convenience to save her father's company. Jackson has to decide if he is willing to open himself up for the first time in his life. And Lilly must figure out how to break free of her father's control and live her life on her own terms.

I was intrigued by the premise of Bad Romance. I like to see characters who have to overcome obstacles before reaching a happily-ever-after. Unfortunately I had too many issues with the characters and plot to truly enjoy this one. First, much of the plot was based on the forbidden aspect of the romance. But I felt their familial connection was tenuous at best. It's not as if these two grew up as brother and sister; they did not meet until they were 15 and 18. Plus they only lived under the same room for a couple months. And yet much was made of the fact that they were siblings. Uh, not really. Next was the issue of Lilly being forced to marry someone in order to facilitate a business merger. I'm sorry, what? Is this 2015 or 1815? A flimsy explanation was given but it still seemed highly implausible. Since this was a large part of the plot it was impossible to ignore. Lastly are the characters themselves. Their feelings and driving motivations changed so quickly that it strained believability. Jackson was determined to avoid Lilly. He was convinced he was no good for her and knew there was no future for them. Yet within *days* of returning home he was moving into Lilly's townhouse with her. Later in the book, he again had an abrupt switch from allowing himself to enjoy the hook-up until he left town to wanting Lilly forever. Lilly was much the same. Not only did she take martyrdom to a new level by agreeing to an arranged marriage to save the jobs of nameless faceless strangers, but she also had an abrupt change of heart at one point.

On the plus side, I did enjoy Jackson's personality and Lilly's loyalty. Jackson's background made him reject close ties and he basically went through life as a loner. He took nothing from no one and I liked that about him. He also had some Alpha tendencies that I enjoyed. :) Lilly's enduring feelings for Jackson were sweet and she was one of the few to see him for the good man he was.

Fans of Jen McLaughlin or the stepbrother romance genre will likely enjoy this one. Otherwise I would take a pass.

2.5/5 Stars

Note: ARC provided by NetGalley and Loveswept in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read any forbidden romances? What's your favorite?

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