Has an off-limits (not precisely off-limits) brother (not exactly brother) ever been hotter than Hazel Kelly’s Beta Brother, Logan Jones? I’m positive you will give Zoey Petersen a pass for lusting over her adopted brother when you hear the things this naughty dirty talker says to her.
Hazel Kelly’s muse must have been working overtime because this novel is spicy. Logan and Zoey have been stewing over each other since first sight. A broken boy with a lot of baggage has little hope for a Happily Ever After, but the Petersens offer him a place in the family of foster and adopted misfits. He can’t stop self-destructing long enough to think he will ever be worthy of the girl who shines with an innocence that is utterly foreign to him, his foster sister. He makes the worst out of his new situation by going for the option of her best friend, Piper. And two kids desperate to tune out their reality make hell for each other while Zoey watches to her heartbreak.
A plot like this can go two ways: taboo relationships within a family story like these are either spicy and compelling or awkward enough to make you squick.
I know the reason stepbrother romances have taken off despite the forbidden fruit angle is that broken stepbrothers for fixer sisters warm the hearts of many pervy readers. (Hello! It’s not an insult, I’m a pervy reader, and this is a shout out to my people).
What is the worst betrayal? Some would say its betraying yourself, but for Barretta, it was having the three people she loved most at age thirteen hold her down, in front of the entire school, and humiliate her after telling her they loved her. That betrayal changed her whole life, and she was never the same after that. She left a week later and started over, started planning revenge.
Nine years later, it’s time to pay-up, and she’s loosey-goosey got plans to make them hurt so she can have closure and indeed start a new chapter. She’s enrolled in their college, knows their classes, has a key to their house, and knows where they will be.
Sounds creepy, and it is, but Barry/Bibi rationalizes a lot, and you start cheering for her success. Stockholm syndrome in book-form. By the time she starts falling for her bullies, and they for her, you are so confused about who you want to be mad at–and angry for–the story gets a little bogged down.
Axel is always a wiener; you won’t be rooting for him ever.