Heroine: Nora Blakely – Wicked Smart, Troubled
Hero: Leo Tate – Guardian, Musician
“She’s this beautiful chaos.” – Leo Tate
Nora Blakely is eighteen and in her last year of high school at Briarcrest Academy. She’s tired of living her perfect manufactured life. She’s tired of keeping her secrets. She’s tired of her tyrant of a mother dictating her life, expecting her to be flawless, the best, exemplary at everything she does. Her mother has failed miserably at being a mother. So, instead of giving a perfect little speech to everyone on registration day, her defiance flairs and she tells everyone to fuck off. Hell yeah. Her perfect façade has finally cracked.
Nora’s life continues to crack and crumble as she figures out exactly who she really is underneath the perfect manners, the perfect grades, the perfect hair, and the perfect clothes. She’s made a list of very bad things she wants to do and starts her bad girl mission by getting drunk one night and spray painting a stranger’s Escalade. This stranger turns out to be Leo Tate. He witnessed her speech while in the audience with his little brother, Sebastian, who will be attending BA, and is instantly drawn to the girl he calls ‘Buttercup’. It was meant to be when Nora picked Leo’s car to vandalize. This night of interesting twists brings Nora and her train wreck of a life into Leo and Sebastian’s life. Sebastian becomes best friends with Nora and Leo becomes completely infatuated with her.
“Forget dressing slutty for a guy; just lick an ice cream cone in front of him.” – Nora Blakely
Nora is freaking awesome and my kind of heroine. She shines bright in this story. She’s quirky, compassionate, wicked smart, and has a dirty mouth to go with her naughty ways. Not to mention her patience for Leo; I’m not sure any other heroine would’ve been able tolerate Leo’s stubborn jackass ways the way she did. She’s also got a gut-wrenching secret she has been carrying around with her for years. Alone. No wonder she was slowly cracking on the inside. But Nora shows just how brave she is as she puts her kick ass boots on and keeps on truckin’ in life. She’s a fighter. And I loved that she gave everyone, especially her mother, the middle finger and decided to do things her way. She’s ready to spread her wings and fly.
“I never met a girl a girl I couldn’t say goodbye to.” – Leo Tate
…That was before Leo met Nora, who has rocked his world on its axis. Leo is sexy, protective, caring, and a very good man, but he’s also incredibly complicated and stubborn. He took on the responsibility of raising his little brother after his parents died. He went from a struggling musician to a successful businessman and is opening his own gym. Unfortunately, because he lost his parents so young, Leo has hang ups about love. It scares him. Which means falling for Nora is a complication in his life he doesn’t want. First of all, she’s too young. And second of all, he doesn’t do serious relationships. But Nora is a walking, talking temptation that is always on his mind. Leo can deny, deny, deny all he wants, but the chemistry between them is potent. Leo wants Nora BAD. He also sees a girl in pain and on the edge of losing herself. He wants to help her with her emotional baggage and decides she needs to be protected from herself. He wants to fix her. But the only person that can fix Nora is Nora herself. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want the handsome prince to come along and kiss her and fall madly in love with her. If only Leo would let himself be her prince.
“This is hell, I thought, living my life without my soulmate.” – Nora Blakely
We all know sexual tension is necessary when reading a romance story. It’s like nectar to us romance junkies. And let me tell you… there is a lot of sexual tension. TONS. So much so, that I was actually tired of it. What? That’s crazy, I know. But I was dying for MORE to happen between Leo and Nora. The romance element of the story builds WAY too slow. *Gasp* I know, I’m always bitching about insta-love. I was ready to kick drop Leo with his mercurial moods. He was hot and cold. Leo wanted Nora but continuously pushed her away. And this goes on for the ENTIRE book as Leo constantly wallows in his angst. Not to mention when his caveman tendencies came out, he acted like if he isn’t going to let himself have Nora, no one can. It was just too much. Leo needed to put his big boy pants on and give the relationship a chance already. The stubborn jackass’ indecisiveness was exhausting and a constant blow to my heart. But… I guess it’s better late than never when they finally DO get together.
“My secret hobbies include people watching, composing lists, and knife throwing.” - Nora Blakely
Most of the characters were written phenomenally. They all have specific personalities with quirks that shined. One of my favorite quirks about Nora is how she would people watch and compare people to animals. Nora is very intuitive and a smart cookie. I absolutely adored Mila, Nora’s best friend, whom she called her little black rabbit. Sebastian totally rocked. I love how he taunted his big brother to make him man up. I hope both Mila and Sebastian both get their own book. The author has my head spinning guessing who they would end up with.
The neurotic ‘I love you but I can’t be with you’ back and forth dance between Nora and Leo made this story extra frustrating but it was also sweet, sassy, sexy, and one hell of an emotional love story. In spite of my complaints, this is a really great debut book by Ilsa Madden-Mills. She’s definitely got skill as a writer and a wonderful voice. Not to mention, her sense of humor hit my funny bone just right. I think there are a lot of people who are going to fall hard for Leo, so give this book a chance. I think it was worth all the frustration I had over Leo and the extra slow building romance just to meet Nora. She really stole the show.