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Heroine: Lana Sweeney – Virgin, Bullied
Hero: Robert Phillips – Playboy, Childhood Bully
We've all met and are familiar with the Mean Girls… but we don't really think about the Mean Boys. I mean, they're guys, right? No rhyme or reason why they decide to behave badly. And it’s almost a certainty that we’ve all experienced a Mean Boy once or twice, probably in high school. Apparently testosterone is an evil thing. Well, for Lana Sweeney, that person was Robert Phillips.
Lana once had a crush on Robert. Still does, really, even though the pain caused by horrific nicknames and spiteful comments still sting after all these years. A childhood crush turned into a high school tormentor. Add in the fact that her best friend, Sasha, is Robert’s twin sister and there really was no escaping him. When Lana decides to spend her summer vacation with Sasha, and somehow Rob invites himself over for the summer too, Lana is once again left no choice but to put up with Rob’s crap.
Robert is a Mean Boy, no doubt about it. Call it acting out or stunted emotional growth, Robert likes to act like a dick. He wields hurtful words with disastrous affects. And, unfortunately for her, Lana is his favorite victim. Which is messed up to begin with but is made all the more perverse because he truly loves her. From the moment they met, he wanted her. But, for one reason or another, Rob has issues when it comes to showing it.
Under the same roof for a summer, Lana and Robert are forced to confront their feelings for each other. And since both, despite the past, are still strongly attracted to each other… It won’t be easy. How can Lana let go of a pain that's been festering for so long? How can Robert start acting nice when mean is so engrained?
I’ll be honest with you, I wanted to do bodily harm to Robert when some of the nasty things he said and did to Lana were revealed. It is cruel, that’s for sure, and made me wonder how exactly I was going to grow to like him… Well, spread throughout the story are parts told in Robert’s point of view, in the past. These insights into his thinking, the motivations behind the actions, softened me toward him. He really is a broken boy. Divorce is never easy on the kids and, with a dad like his, it wasn’t a huge surprise why he did the things he did. It’s no excuse, but hormones and crap circumstances combined to disastrous results.
Lana is a very sweet and quirky girl and I liked her personality matched with Rob’s. The more I knew about him, the more I wanted him to be more than the Mean Boy he pretended to be. He brought her out of her shell and helped her live a little. And, once these two start to figure each other out, let bygones be bygones, it was a beautiful thing. Rob easily rechanneled all that negativity into some of the sweetest and most touching moments. It wasn't easy for Lana to trust him, but Rob definitely puts in the effort.
The Nature of Cruelty is a different kind of romance. A bit of a slow build, meandering through Lana and Rob’s twisted feelings to finally get to the heart of it… But I enjoyed the attention to their character growth and the way it all unfolded. Having a character start out with such bad intentions, really have to overcome the past, isn't an easy thing to tackle. Miz Cosway truly took a character I initially despised and turned him into one I root for. I adored Lana and Rob.
"Exactly. So take them down."
"But I am into you."
I want to kill the blush that colours my cheeks. "You're into toying with me. You're not into me as a person."
His amusement dies, and his expression turns hard.
"I am so into you as a person, Lana, I might as well be living under your skin."
I stare at him and there's nothing but absolute seriousness on his face.