Friday, September 12, 2014

Rival (Fall Away #2) by Penelope Douglas @PenDouglas

4.5 Stars

ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review

When I first read Bully, I became enamored with Penelope Douglas’ writing style. She eloquently pens romantic stories about troubled teenagers who struggle with sorrow, betrayals, forgiveness and love. What impressed me the most was the way Douglas masterfully presents her characters’ development and dialogue on a mature level.  Although the stories are about teens, I sense nothing immature about them or their life experiences. This holds true for Madoc and Fallon’s love/hate illicit drama in Rival.

Madoc and his stepsister, Fallon, have a unique connection. Forced to live together, they despise and taunt one another. Yet, powerful feelings and sexual urges draw them into an unthinkable relationship. Even though their affair is considered ‘taboo’, I was not put off by their intimacy. They were just two lost souls living with unpleasant circumstances, seeking comfort from one another. It all comes to a painful end when they are discovered. Horrible parents conjure lies and Fallon is quickly shipped off to boarding school, causing both sorrow and distress. For two years, Fallon’s heartache festered leading her to design a plan of revenge against the center of her anguish  – Madoc.

Madoc also has his demons to contend with, believing a cold-hearted Fallon abandoned him. I was saddened by how these characters suffered emotionally and felt both were justified in their agony.

When Fallon returns, dark secrets see the light of day and misunderstandings are revealed, leaving Fallon and Madoc to help heal one another. Their journey, filled with both pain and pleasure, was captivating. I savored each heart clenching moment. Lust and desire, fueled by anger, lies and treacheries, made for some sizzling intense love scenes. Their chemistry was off the charts HOT.

Fallon was difficult at times for me to connect with. I felt as if I was dealing with a split personality. On one hand, she is this tough, tattooed and pierced brazen girl with tomboyish traits. I could not grasp the rebellious Fallon. On the flip side, she was vulnerable, sincere and tender - a total contradiction. It is her sensitive side I liked. Fallon’s character suffered deep pain and I felt great sympathy for all of her misfortunes.  All in all, she made an interesting female lead.

Madoc was maddening – but in a good way. When I first met him in Bully, I disliked him, but gradually come to find I adored his endearing side. In Rival, I found myself despising him once again. It frustrated me rediscovering his cold-hearted cruel personality. Then…he revealed his heartaches and I fell back in love with him. It was clever how Douglas scripted his character – evolving from a tough, mean spirited douche to a sweet, affectionate lover. His changed persona added even more angst within the plot. Add to that, his sex appeal, Madoc totally fascinated me.

On a whole, Rival was a great read for me. It had an interesting storyline, passionate love scenes and written in dual points of view – giving a clear insight into the characters mindset. There was, however, some troublesome issues involving Fallon’s bitch of a mother. I found her too treacherous for my liking and her actions were despicable. Aside from that, Rival was an exceptionally written, emotionally driven romance. Looking forward to the next installment in the series – Falling Away – Jaxon’s story.


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