Heartbreaking and romantic all at once, this book is really something special. I’ve read plenty of books by Ilsa Madden-Mills before, but this has got to be the most powerful and moving one yet. It won’t be for everyone – there are WAY too many triggers in it for that – but I absolutely loved it. It’s a story of healing, moving forward, and finding love along the way. With strong writing and characters who are multi-faceted, likable, and spark some incredible chemistry, I wholeheartedly recommend it for those looking for an emotional read.
Here’s where those triggers come into play. They’re a major part of the story so it wouldn’t be fair to leave them out of my review. The story is about Ava, a student returning to her prestigious prep school months after being raped by one of the football players. Her memories of the trauma are foggy at best, so she’s not sure which of the guys she sees every day is the one who hurt her. Attending school while not being sure who she can trust is problematic for Ava, but she finds the strength and moves forward. Crazy as it is to believe, her biggest ally is Knox, the quarterback of the football team and her ex’s best friend, which makes the attraction that sizzles between them oh so troublesome.
I loved this from the start, and it held my attention the whole way through. It’s heart-wrenching at times, light at others, and such a great story. Knox is everything you could ask for in a hero, and Ava makes for one strong, vibrant heroine. Their connection kept me reading late into the night. I’ll acknowledge that the ending will probably be polarizing, but ultimately I think Madden made the right choice for the characters. This was an easy 5-star rating for me, and I hope we get more from this group of characters. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC via Social Butterfly PR (then purchased it for my collection) and am voluntarily leaving a review of this emotional romance.
“Dear Ava is heartwarming and angsty and don’t get me started on Knox. Read this book! You will love Ava’s fight and Knox’s alpha.”
–Tijan, New York Times bestselling author
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a gripping enemies-to-lovers, secret admirer, high school romance with Dear Ava, available now!
The rich and popular Sharks rule at prestigious, ivy-covered Camden Prep. Once upon a time, I wanted to be part of their world–until they destroyed me.
The last thing I expected was an anonymous love letter from one of them.
Please. I hate every one of those rich jerks for what they did to me. The question is, which Shark is my secret admirer?
Knox, the scarred quarterback.
Dane, his twin brother.
Or Chance, the ex who dumped me. . .
Your eyes are the color of the Caribbean Sea.
Wait. That’s stupid.
What I really mean is, you look at me and I feel something REAL.
It’s been ten months since you were here, but I can’t forget you.
I’ve missed seeing you walk down the hall.
I’ve missed you cheering at my football games.
I’ve missed the smell of your hair.
And then everything fell apart the night of the kegger.
Don’t hate me because I’m a Shark.
I just want to make you mine.
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“What do you want?” Knox says with as sneer as I ease in the football locker room. Cold eyes flick over my cheer skirt then move up and land on the hollow of my throat. It’s not cool enough at night for our sweater uniform so tonight my top is the red and white V-cut vest with CP embroidered on my chest.
He whips off his sweat-covered jersey along with the pads underneath. “I don’t keep tabs on my best friend for you. Get out—before I scare you.”
He’s scaring me already.
But I can’t stop looking at him.
His shoulders are broad and wide, his chest lightly dusted with sparse golden hair, tan from the sun, rippling with powerful muscles, leading down to a tapered and trim waist. He has a visible six-pack, and my gaze lingers briefly on a small tattoo on his hip, but I can’t tell what it is. He isn’t brawny or beefy-looking like one might expect from a guy blessed with his athletic prowess, but sculpted and molded and—
Dropping my gaze, I stare at the floor. I shouldn’t be ogling him. Chance is my maybe-boyfriend.
I hear male laughter from one of the rooms that branch off from the locker room, maybe the showers, and I deflate, guessing that’s where Chance is.
Glancing up, I intend to ask him to tell Chance I came by to congratulate him on his two touchdowns, but my voice is frozen. Knox has unlaced his grass-stained pants and is shucking them off. His legs are heavily muscled and taut, unlike the leaner build of Chance. His underwear are white and tight, cupping his hard ass, the outline of his crotch—
“Like what you see, charity case? You can look, but you can’t touch.”
Anger soars, replacing my embarrassment. I know I’m just the scholarship girl at Camden, but why does he have to constantly remind me?
“Don’t worry about me touching anything. I don’t like ugly.” The words tumble out before I can stop them. I meant his superior attitude, not his face, but I see the moment when he freezes and takes it the wrong way.
He touches his face, tracing his scar while his jaw pops. “Get the hell out. Only players allowed in here.”
I pivot and go for the door, forcing myself not to run. “Asshole,” I mutter.
His laughter follows me.
About Ilsa Madden-Mills
Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies.
Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4.
A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.
She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.
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