Rival by Penelope Douglas
Series: Fall Away #2
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Format: eARC, 366 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…
For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.
I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…
Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.
But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….
It’s difficult to pinpoint what my favorite thing about Penelope Douglas’ Fall Away series is, but if I had to pick just one thing, I would say it’s that she’s not afraid to “go there.” And “there,” in Rival, is with a taboo relationship between step-siblings. (No, this is NOT incest. They’re not related by blood.) Penelope has a way of taking less-than-perfect characters and making me fall head-over-heels in love with them, faults and all. She did with Tate and Jared in Bully and Until You. She did it again with Madoc and Fallon in Rival.
If you’ve read Bully or Until You, you’re already acquainted with Madoc, Jared’s best friend. He’s kind of a jerk. He’s a bit of a manwhore. But there was something intriguing about him all along. (Or there was to me, at least.) I couldn’t wait to get his full story. And oooooh boy. What a story it was. Madoc’s life is turned upside down when his step-sister Fallon returns. First, he’s ordered not to come home while she’s there. It was clear *something* happened between them when they were younger and their parents were trying to keep history from repeating itself. Then there’s just the feelings seeing Fallon again brings out in him. I really saw a different side of Madoc in this book. (And I liked that side a lot more than the one I’d seen in the previous books.)
Both Madoc and Fallon were interesting and complex characters. It’s difficult to call them likable because they were both so flawed that it took some time to really connect with them. I was sucked into their story long before I felt truly connected to their characters. But their story. Wow. Because Rival is told in dual POV, readers have a chance to get inside both Madoc and Fallon’s heads. Even still, it takes some time before their entire history is revealed. Let me just tell you, I wasn’t expecting all of this. As a matter of fact, this book was full of some surprising twists and turns.
I know I’m being incredibly vague here and I’m doing it intentionally. It’s difficult to review this book without giving away important pieces of the story. Basically just know that Rival was great and exhausting and a total roller coaster ride. It was hot and sexy. It was sweet. It made me want to tear my hair out. It was full of feels. By the end, I was completely addicted to these characters and their story (both in the past and present). There was a ton of drama in this one and not all of it was the Madoc and Fallon’s. Their families played a big part in this book – and not always in a good way. Some of the drama worked for me, other parts of it didn’t as much. But all in all, this was a great read.
I love Penelope’s writing and can’t wait for more of it. Particularly, you know, Jax’s book. It simply can’t get here soon enough.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.