Friday, February 21, 2014

Top 13 of 2013: (#6) BROKEN AT LOVE (Whitman University #1) and (#7) BY REFERRAL ONLY (Whitman University #2) by Lyla Payne



Just before I went to BEA this summer and certainly while I was there, there was a buzz all throughout Javits about a newer genre lighting up the scene -- New Adult. Geared towards the set of young women in their twenties, in college or not, these types of books fall somewhere between YA contemporary and Fifty Shades of Gray. Here, the main characters, usually young men or women in their twenties, are seeking love (or love finds them), and the blinders that make YA books PG and PG-13 are taken off and sex isn't a thinly veiled reference or that something that almost happens, but doesn't. Yet it isn't quite as explicit or X-rated as the exploits of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

I hadn't had a lot of luck finding New Adult lit that suited me until I went to BEA. Most of it was either all about the sex and no plot, or way too fluffy and romantic for my taste with not enough realism or grit.

This all ended, though, when I finally met Trisha Leigh -- otherwise known as Lyla Payne -- who I'd been friends with on Twitter and Facebook for over six months but had yet to meet. And I already knew exactly how awesome she was because I'd LOVED her first YA series, The Last Year, which was the series that made me want to dive into the world of blogging. But the way I knew she would be a friend for life is when she pulled a copy of her second NA novel (By Referral Only, number two in the Whitman University series) out of her bag, already signed for me, and said "Here, I saved this for you!"

Real friends save each other books and enable their reading habits. (I hope someday that I'll be able to return the favor with a book that is at least half as good as anything she has written, because she is just such a damn good writer.)

The only problem was that I hadn't read the first book in her series, Broken at Love. But at only 99-cents, I had no problem downloading the USA Today Bestseller onto my Nook and devouring it whole.

Everything I've always loved about Trisha's writing in the YA genre was there, most specifically her ability to write from two (or more) characters' viewpoints and still manage to have each of them have a clear and distinct voice, her way of painting the pictures and describing a setting or word building, and developing relationships that are real, believable, and that make you root for the pairing. All of that was present with a more adult spin on it, but done with class and a great entertainment factor. I hadn't read or committed much to NA, but I knew once I'd read Broken at Love and then By Referral Only in less than 24 hours that these books were an example of New Adult Lit done right -- which is why the two of them are number #6 (Broken at Love) and #7 (By Referral Only) in my Top 13 of 2013.

Here are the details for each and the links to my review for both ...

AUTHOR: Lyla Payne -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: Self-published March 12, 2013
GENRE: New Adult, Romance
PAGES: 338
SOURCE: Self-purchased
BUY IT: Barnes and Noble | Amazon
Find it on Goodreads

MY REVIEW of Broken at Love

*This book may not be suitable for audiences under 18.*

SUMMARY:
When a knee injury ends twenty-year-old Quinn Rowland’s pro tennis career, he’s not only dumped by his hot Russian girlfriend but ordered to attend college by his disinterested billionaire father. A rich kid who’s not used to being disappointed by life, Quinn and his sociopathic half-brother Sebastian create a frat house game intended to treat girls how they see them—as simple game pieces to be manipulated for their pleasure.

College sophomore Emilie Swanson knows Quinn’s reputation—after all, he did send one of her sorority sisters into therapy earlier in the semester—but the game and his charm bring them closer together and soon she starts to believe there’s more to Quinn than people think.

But what if the more is something darker than a game of toying with emotions and breaking hearts?

Quinn and Emilie might be falling for each other, but there are secrets he’s not ready to tell—and lifestyle changes he’s reluctant to make. She willingly stepped on the court, but if Emilie finds out she started out as nothing as a pawn in Quinn and Sebastian’s twisted game, she might never forgive him.

To his surprise, Quinn finds that he might finally care about someone more than he cares about himself…even if that means letting Emilie walk away for good.

AUTHOR: Lyla Payne -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: Self-published May 23, 2013
GENRE: New Adult, Romance
PAGES: 290
SOURCE: ARC from author
BUY IT: Barnes and Noble | Amazon
Find it on Goodreads


*This book may not be suitable for audiences under 18.*

SUMMARY:
After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.

Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.

When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.

Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.

As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes.

He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough. 

Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.

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