Review: After We Fell (After, #3), by Anna Todd

After We Fell (After #3)After We Fell by Anna Todd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like the first two books in the series, ‘After We Fell’ was completely consuming. Although the back and forth drama between Hardin and Tessa gets to be very irritating, I can’t seem to turn away from it. It’s like I’m stuck in an abusive relationship with this couple. I know it isn’t healthy. I know I should remove myself from the situation…but I just can’t do it. After all, maybe they’ll change.

Picking up where ‘After We Collided’ left off, Tessa’s father has reappeared in her life. Only, her father is not the man that she remembered from her childhood. He is homeless and has some serious addiction issues.

While Tessa wants to give her father a chance, Hardin cautions her against it. Hardin is an ass all of the time, but I really thought that he took it to a whole new level when her father was introduced. I couldn’t believe how incredibly insensitive and cruel he was. Even though he was absolutely correct to be concerned, he responded in a manner that showed absolutely no regard for Tessa’s feelings. I couldn’t believe some of the things he said about her father to her. Of course, like always, Tessa gets over it like it was hardly a blip on her radar.

More than the first two books, Hardin’s own issues with addiction were very apparent. Interestingly, the author seemed to avoid addressing this issue head on. I kept waiting for some sort of intervention, but it never really happened. I guess there was already enough drama in this story without tackling Hardin’s drinking problem.

This book also features plenty of fighting, breaking up and making up between Hardin and Tessa. If you expected Hardin and Tessa to settle down and start acting like a mature, committed couple, prepare to be disappointed. ‘After We Fell’ is full of the same angst-filled cycle of jealousy, acting out and game playing that were in previous books. Betrayals are around every corner and there is no shortage of drama.

From disastrous family vacations, to secrets, there is plenty of deceit to go around. Zed is back on scene again, playing a big role in the tension between Hardin and Tessa. Of course, he is only involved because Tessa pulled him in again. Meanwhile, there are more revelations about Tessa’s “friends”. I swear, they never learn their lessons!

Like the first two books, this book ends with a huge upset. If I ever thought that I would have the strength to quit this dysfunctional couple, the ending sucked me right back in. I absolutely had to see where the next book would lead.

I love to hate, and hate to love, this series! It is like watching a bad train wreck in slow motion. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you just can’t turn away.

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Review: After We Collided (After, #2), by Anna Todd

After We Collided (After, #2)After We Collided by Anna Todd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After finishing the first book in the ‘After’ series, I immediately jumped into this second book. There was no way that I was going to quit this series with the way things ended at the end of ‘After’–absolutely, no way! I had to know how things were going to play out for this disastrous couple. They are like crack! It might kill me. I know it’s really not healthy…but I just can’t seem to pull myself away from it!

If I thought that Hardin and Tessa were going to grow up and start treating each other better, I would’ve been sorely disappointed. These two are every bit as toxic as they were the first time around. The back and forth, break-up and make-up, abusive cycle continues, strong as ever. Of course, I’m such a glutton for punishment that I had to have a front row seat for all of it!

Picking up right where the first book ended, Tessa does her best to try and piece her life back together. She has been betrayed by everyone that she thought were her friends — most of all, Hardin. Unfortunately, the manipulative jackass succeeded in tying her to him when he tricked her into moving into an apartment with him and away from the dorms. This will make distancing herself from him more difficult than she had hoped.

While Tessa makes a weak attempt at moving on, Hardin sets out to prove that his feelings for her are genuine. Of course, every time he starts to make any progress in that regard he does something that sabotages all of his efforts. They truly are their own worst enemies.

For what it’s worth, Hardin does seem to show some actual emotions in this book. Mainly, his regret and heartache shines through. It’s hard to feel sorry for him though, since all of his pain is entirely the result of his own cruel actions. To make matters worse, every time he starts to gain a little “nice guy” stock, he goes and does something abhorrent again, reminding me of what a despicable asshat he is. Some big revelations about his past only further prove that he is not to be trusted. He really is deplorable…but I love to hate him!

I also found myself feeling a little more irritated with Tessa’s weakness this time around. Can you say “doormat”? How many times is this girl going to fall for his crap? She also played the same childish games over and over, using other guys to make Hardin jealous, only to play the victim when she got the reaction she was looking for all along.

I felt sorry for Tessa at first. By the end of this book, I was marveling at the fact that she hadn’t been weeded out as part of the process of natural selection. Surely, this girl is too stupid to live!

That being said, I still can’t pull myself away from this angsty, infuriating story. It is like watching a trashy talk show or soap opera. It’s unrealistic. The relationships are toxic. It probably kills off brain cells. However, I can’t get enough of it. It is my latest guilty pleasure. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but I’m completely hooked on this series.

Like the first book, ‘After We Collided’ ends with a huge cliffhanger. Anna Todd certainly knows how to pull me back in. At this point, I think my relationship with this series is much like the relationship between Hardin and Tessa. I should probably cut all ties and get out while I can, but I just can’t seem to resist the pull. I’m on to the third book in this addictive, dysfunctional romance.

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Review: Black Swan Affair, by K. L. Kreig

Black Swan AffairBlack Swan Affair by K.L. Kreig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I started ‘Black Swan Affair’, I anticipated a steamy love affair and a fair amount of angst. I had absolutely no idea that this book would gut me the way it did. This book ripped my heart out! Several days later, I’m still trying to get ahold of my emotions and come to terms with what this book made me feel.

The story centers on Maverick DeSoto, who is marrying her childhood best-friend, Kael. Only, Maverick isn’t in love with Kael. She’s in love with his older brother, Killian.

After an intense opening scene with Maverick and Killian arguing on the day of her wedding, I knew that I was in for a hell of a ride with this book. Killian is trying to stop Maverick from going through with her wedding to his brother and she is determined to marry Kael to spite Killian. It was like watching a bad train wreck in slow motion.

For most of this book, my heart broke for Kael. He was so in love with Maverick and she just couldn’t see past her love for Killian to appreciate what she had in front of her all the time. Kael truly did have enough love for both of them.

In contrast, I despised Killian until about 85% through. He seemed to want to have his cake and eat it too. He had married Maverick’s sister, Jillian, without so much as an explanation, leaving Maverick brokenhearted. I doubted the sincerity of his feelings for Maverick right from the start. After all, who would do that if they really loved somebody?

Then, there is Maverick. Jilted by Killian, she sets out to do the same thing to him that he did to her…marry his sibling. Only, she actually claims to love Kael, even if she isn’t in love with him. Kind of cruel, if you ask me. All the while, she pines over Killian.

The longer Kael and Maverick are married, the more he begins to creep his way into her heart. Slowly, she begins to fall in love with her husband. She is determined to push Killian out of her mind and Kael is eager to help her make that happen.

However, there are some big secrets being kept from Maverick. When they come to light, everything will change. Suddenly, the reasons for Killian’s shocking marriage will be explained. The betrayal and lies run deep. Everyone except for Maverick seems to be in on it. She has to decide whether she can get past this deception at all.

I loved every painful moment of this story. It broke my heart, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to scream and throw a tantrum so many times while reading this one. In the end, I came to a place of acceptance with the decisions that were made. Yet, I can’t say that I felt content with the ending.

I don’t think that there was any way for this to work out with a perfect happy ending. It just wasn’t that kind of story. I understood why Maverick made the decisions that she did and think it was the right one…but it still hurt so much. This one definitely got me in the feels. I highly recommend any book that can make you feel the way that this one does.

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