I was starting to go off Tijan after having followed her from back when her books had pencil designed covers. The first book I read of hers, and still my most favorite, was Brady Remington Landed Me In Jail because it stands out from her normal plot devices.
Happily the beautiful spirit of Brady Remington has been resurrected by Anti-Stepbrother.
Tijan’s fandom is venomous and I will no doubt earn major animosity when I say that the recycled characters and overused plots have me sleepy as hell.
I really do love reading Tijan books mainly due to her great sense of tension and layers. The fact remains, her storytelling hasn’t grown: Broken and Screwed series, Fallen Crest books, and Jaded saga are evidence of that. A girl is treated shitty by her friends/non-present family, she is broken in too many ways to function or fight back. She ties herself to the more aggressive predators in the school or city, finds a new “family”, and they circle the wagons to keep her protected–often falling–but in the end she becomes Queen Buttercup and all is well.
Even when Tijan expanded to Carter Reed, Kian, Fighter, and A New Crowd the formulaic plot vehicle was active–and growing boring. Stretching herself outside her creative writing box wasn’t happening; that saddens me because she is so skillful in character development. Dimension and background of her storycrafting is solid and tarnished by her recycling.
But then there is this!
Anti-Stepbrother is my new book crush. I mean book I am crushing on, not Caden being my crush.
–Though he is worthy of being a book boyfriend.
Anti-Stepbrother is wonderful. It’s an enjoyable anomaly in the Tijan library. Ripe with fantastic layering, emotional trauma introduction, with coping and non-coping aspects, this is prime character psyche and maturation at it’s best. Tijan tests her characters to feel intense emotions from dark sources: grief. PTSD, delusions, anxiety, abuse, and trauma, she always manages to instill a challenge internally as well as externally for the cast of her books.
…and this book has that happening without the familiar hook. Thumbs up!
Caden and Summer are two amazingly handled characters. They are unique and loveable from the very start to the last word. Anti-Stepbrother, as far as originality goes, is stunning for not carrying over any of the crutch framework of her previous novels.
Summer Stoltz: new adult seeing the world, her crush, and her family with new eyes, revealing that there are undercurrents there that she was unable to understand. As if the veil has been lifted she struggles to acknowledge that the fairy tale she has thought her life to be is little more than a facade. With awareness comes the realization that she has been manipulated by the person she wanted most to love her.
Suddenly Kevin–her step brother, isn’t Prince Charming. In fact he is a skeevy pathological liar in the habit of using girls, LOTS of girls. Her crush on her step sibling leads to amatuer stalking and an introduction to Caden Banks.
Caden is a big deal with a lot of responsibility. He sees Summer as refreshing after years of superficial friendships. Summer and Caden AGAINST THE WORLD!
Caden isn’t epic in the way Logan and Mason Kade are. He’s not in a crazy war with another class of people who try to kill anyone. He’s not fighting off a serial killer. Not a mob killer with connections. And he’s not dragging bodies across campus to show his cred.
This dude is someone anyone could meet; any girl could be so lucky to find this breed of male. Thank the lord for that because I can not take one more guy that can drink a 12 pack in 20 minutes and be clear minded enough to fight with any skill. And Summer doesn’t run 30 miles a day like an endurance athlete on crack.
Let’s be honest, does anyone think Sam has the strength to get boney with Mason after running daily marathons?
Anti-Stepbrother doesn’t read like a bunch of fisherman stories regarding fighting, fucking, and getting shit faced. I love this book for that.
The one thing that Tijan is phenomenal at doing in all her books is balancing a large number of key characters without losing focus on her hero and heroine and she’s still aces here. I recommend this book to you if you want the best of Tijan.
Recommendations Based on This Read:
He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.
He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.
Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.
I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?
Immortal Prophecy Series:
Fallen Crest Series:
Broken and Screwed Series:
Carter Reed Series:
A Whole New Crowd:
The sun shone into the room, and it took me a few moments to realize where I was. I didn’t recognize the king-size bed, or the black sheets, but then Caden walked past the open door and all the memories flooded into place.
I slept at his place.
I glanced around the bed… I slept in his bed!
“Your alarm’s about to go off in ten minutes,” Caden called from the doorway. He had a cup of coffee in hand and wore only jeans.
I tried to keep my eyes front and center, but I lost. The tattoos were a nice little zig-zag pattern, pulling my gaze down, all the way down. Caden’s slow, smooth chuckle told me he knew what I’d just done. My cheeks only warmed a little.
I shot him a look, falling back to the pillow. “I feel like this should be the first skip day of my school career.”
“You’ve never skipped before?”
I shook my head, rolling it side to side on the pillow. “Am I missing out? Should I embrace my inner deviant?”
He smirked. “You can skip a class for any reason in the world. It’s your life.”
I sat up, eyeing that coffee. “You were supposed to be the bad influence.”
His eyebrow lifted. “I’m not selling it enough?” He lifted his cup. “You want some coffee?”
“I’m wondering if today is the day I try coffee too.”
“You’ve never had coffee?”
“I’m beginning to think I’m lame.” I thought about it. “Really lame.”
“You slept at some guy’s house last night. Think of it that way.” His smirk was back. “Not so lame now.”
I could do one better. “I slept at a fraternity house.”
“And you drank beer.”
“It was the second night in a row that I drank beer.”
“See? Not so lame after all.”
“You’re right.” I sat up. “I’m halfway to total badass.”
He grinned. “We cuddled last night, and you could think of it as dry humping. You almost got some last night.”
Except I hadn’t, and we were in the friend zone. Why were my hands curling around the covers into tight balls? I glanced down and forced them to loosen, then shrugged, trying to be the nonchalant badass I was.
“You carried me to bed. Almost the same thing.”
Suddenly, the joking was gone, and his eyes burned. I could feel his heat from across the room, and my body reacted, instantly warming even before he said a word.
“Nothing’s the same as sliding inside,” he murmured after a moment. “The feel of being in there, feeling that clench around you, knowing you can push as deep as you want, as hard or gently as you want. Nope. I’ve gotta step off the joke train for a moment here. Nothing is remotely the same as that feeling.”
Fuck. My pulse spiked.
He tossed me a look. “Maybe I’ll cop a feel the next time.”
I pretended to groan. “One more notch on my badass peg. You better cop a feel next time.”
“Is that all I am to you? A notch on the bedpost? I feel so used, Stoltz.”
Okay. My last name. We were back on familiar ground here. But my grin was still a little shaky.
“Get used to it, Banks. I’m only disguised as this plain Jane. Inside there’s a wild woman just waiting to be let loose.”
He didn’t reply.
He stared at me for a few more seconds, then straightened from the doorway. “There’s nothing plain about you, Summer.”
Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing Fallen Crest Six (untitled) along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.
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