In Review: A Kiss by Design (Kiss & Tell #1) by Christy Hayes

Posted December 22, 2013 by Kim in 4 Stars, In Review / 0 Comments

In Review: A Kiss by Design (Kiss & Tell #1) by Christy HayesA Kiss by Design by Christy Hayes
Series: Kiss & Tell #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: December 7, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: eARC, 253 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My rating:

What’s a girl to do when her best friend is making a mistake? Stop him, of course.

College sophomore Emily Dilbert has been best friends with Dylan Chamberlain since they were kids. All she wants is for him to be happy and she knows him better than anyone. That’s why when she finds an engagement ring in his backpack she has to stop him from marrying the wrong girl.

Dylan Chamberlain has been in love with his brother’s girlfriend, Emily, since the second grade. When his brother asks for help planning a surprise proposal, Dylan knows it’s time to bury his feelings and finally let Emily go. Too bad his heart refuses to cooperate.

All of Emily’s attempts to lure Dylan away from his girlfriend fail, forcing her to turn up the heat on their friendship. Will Dylan reveal his long-buried secret and tell Emily how he feels? Or will Emily be forced to use any means necessary to show him the error of his ways?


in review my thoughts

A Kiss by Design was a cute upper YA/NA read. The characters were likable (most of them, anyhow) and, as we all know, I’m a sucker for a good “friends first” romance story. This one had the added twist of each of the main characters, while obviously nurturing strong feelings for the other, were in a relationship (of sorts) with someone else. I’m not much for love triangles (or shapes of any sort, really), but this one worked for me.

Emily is dating Zach, a football star, who attends a different university than she does. Zach’s brother Dylan is Emily’s close friend and they attend the same school. Zach is rarely there – emotionally or physically – for Emily, so she relies on Dylan for the things most girls would turn to their boyfriends to help with. Because Dylan secretly loves Emily, he’s happy to help. Until the day his brother confesses he’s going to ask Emily to marry him and Dylan decides some distance is necessary, despite how easy it is for him to get sucked into Emily’s pull. To complicate matters further, Emily discovers the ring Dylan is holding for Zach and thinks Dylan is about to pop the question to his quasi-girlfriend, Denise. Heartbroken because her friend didn’t even tell her he’s in love, let alone about to propose to someone, Emily believes his feelings can’t be that strong and with the very reluctant help of her friends, sets out to make Dylan change his mind. Along the way, with help from her meddling (in a good way!) friends Kayla, Reagan and Shelby, realizes her feelings for Dylan are a lot different than the friendly feelings she thought she had for him.

I liked Emily, though I found her to be kinda wishy washy at times. I understand she was torn between the two brothers, but I just wanted her to make up her mind. Dylan was the star of this book, as far as I’m concerned. He’s the swoony book boyfriend we all wish was real – and ours. He was sweet and supportive and reliable and sexy. It’s no wonder Emily fell for him. Zach never really did it for me. Though he didn’t feature in the book nearly as much as Dylan did, when he was around he was self-centered and, quite frankly, a bit of a jerk. I hope to discover another side of him in the second book in this series. Emily’s friends Kayla, Reagan and Shelby were each awesome in their own way. Shelby was my favorite though. She was outgoing and forthright. She said what she felt and thought and I found that refreshing.

The story was cute and romantic, even if it was predictable. But you know what? I don’t mind predictable when I like the characters… and I definitely liked these characters. The multiple POVs in the book ended up being a little difficult to follow at times. They changed mid-chapter and at times, I was confused as to who the narrator was.


My biggest complaint with this book was that I wish the build-up had been cut short and the ending had been a little more satisfying. While not a true cliffhanger, it left me wanting more. We spent so much time in the back and forth with Emily and Dylan that I wanted more of them together. What we got, instead, was a tease. I absolutely adored these two characters. They were so perfect for each other, I wanted a chance to actually know more than that they were going on a date. I wanted to see them as a couple. I know this is a series, but the second book is Zach’s book and, given the way relationships were severed in this story, I don’t anticipate much of Emily and Dylan in his book. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But, the ending caused me to knock a full star off my rating of this one.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

NOTE: Rating changed from a 3 to a 4 on 12/27/13. The author contacted me after seeing my review and offered me a final copy of the book that contained two chapters not in the review copy. The two extra chapters made a huge difference in the book! I wanted Emily and Dylan together and I got it! I feel like Emily and Dylan’s story is complete now. Thank you, Christy, for reaching out and allowing me to read the changes you made! 

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About Christy Hayes

My husband and I live outside Atlanta, Georgia, with our two children and two dogs. I have a journalism degree from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and the Women’s Fiction Chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve been writing seriously since 2004 and made the decision to indie publish in 2011.

I write romance and romantic women’s fiction from my little basement office in the South. I’ve cooked up all kinds of trouble for my flawed characters when I’m not driving my kids to one sporting event or another or walking my pesky rescue mutts through the neighborhood.

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