Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas - 5 Star Review!

Hi all!

A great romance from a great new author!

Title: Rival
Release date: 26th of August 2014
Series: Fall Away #2
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Piatkus
Pages: 368 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle


Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war . . .

She's back.

For the three years she's been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I'm ready to beat her at her own game . . .

I'm back.

Three years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he's better than me.

But I won't be scared away. Or pushed down. I'll call his bluff and fight back. That's what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he'll never know how much he affects me . . .


How is it possible that some NA/YA leave me so incredibly cold and this author, with her already second story I’ve read, can get so much emotion out of me that it’s incredible (me, who is quite tame in that department to begin with), what’s more, this plot and characters aren’t overly unique or unheard of in the NA/YA genre. Or just maybe, love-hate romance is what gets me fired up and is my OTT (one true thing), but then again, I’ve read about such plot devices before and there hasn't been no such reaction, not even close, as I noticed during Rival (and the first book Bully as well). In conclusion, the author is simply a black belt high ninja master of angsty romance with some super-secret a thousand-years-old techniques that actually make the reader FEEL when reading and get really absorbed into the story. I bow down to you my master!

So what was so astonishingly exception about this story (at least to me)? Read on!

Angst, glorious angst, but in reasonable and tolerable dosages that make you only want for more yet don’t spoil you so it doesn’t get dull and frustrating quickly.

The huge misunderstanding – I really don’t believe that I’m the only one who worships this trope, because it’s usually the source of all the gratifying angst. It was also handled quite skillfully in this story and was believable (as much as you can with angst), not a device drowned in childish behavior, lack of reasonable communication and revenge.

Sympathetic, messed-up, but still likable main couple: The push and pull, love/hate, I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you, together-apart relationship of Madoc and Fallon was pure torture, but sweet and welcome torture I enjoyed and completely relished in. They were so right for each other, but the circumstances and the timing wasn’t always in their favor so they had a lot of bad blood, misery, disappointment, loneliness and issues to overcome before they could remotely be anything like a healthy loving couple. And I cheered them on along the whole way!

A tragedy in the past – now when this came to light, I was really hit on the head, because it was so devastating and how it was revealed to the reader and handled (didn’t really like how it was exposed to one character later, however – too rushed) – it just gripped me!

Meeting up with the couple from the previous book was a pleasant get-together after it being a while when I read the first one. I liked where they were and where they were headed.

A separate paragraph goes to the steamy scenes:
Wow, these were one of the hottest I’ve ever read, EVER. You were emotionally prepared, the tension was high and ready to snap any moment and simply the atmosphere and lead-up to all scenes was the key. An effective build-up is everything that a memorable steamy scenes needs and at this the author absolutely excelled at. They weren’t scenes just thrown out there to be over and done with just because romance requires them, they really were significant and, well, hot.

What I didn’t like was that the story dragged at one point and went on for a while with SOMETHING happening, but without any ACTUAL progress. Also, I didn’t entirely like how everything wrapped up in the end, it came across a little too smooth – then again I like when things work out for everyone so I’ll shut up now. 


Another winner! I truly savored this book and me, who’s really stingy with my 5 stars, giving it one should be the biggest praise I can bestow. A genuinely gripping and emotional series that I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who likes romance (and angst).

5 stars!



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