Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Series: Radleigh University #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Format: eARC, 414 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.
Until he does.
Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.
As much as I loved this book – and I loved it hard, y’all – I am having the most difficult time talking about how it affected me. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite books of 2015 so far, but I’m not sure just how to do it justice in a review. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and hopeful. It also had moments where I wanted to chuck it against the wall because it was playing with my feelings and why oh why could Lizzie and Connor not get it together. But even when it was frustrating me, I was in love with it. I was deeply invested in these characters and their story.
My heart absolutely broke for Lizzie. To be her age and have to deal with not only the loss of her parents, but raising her brothers and still trying to maintain decent grades in college was overwhelming. Add to that the social drama she found herself wrapped up in and I’m not sure how she got out of bed some mornings. I have to admit, I did NOT love her at the start of the book. She was a little too selfish for my liking. It didn’t take long, however, before I was singing her praises and wishing I could do something to help lessen her burden.
I started off lukewarm to Connor as well. He was a bit of a jerk to Lizzie in the beginning – NOT that I can really blame him. She wasn’t exactly known for her commitment to her classes and as her TA, he took offense. But, like with Lizzie, I didn’t have to read too long before I was solidly Team Connor and wanting him and Lizzie to find a way to be together, forbidden as their romance was. I loved how they grew from strangers (with a side of antagonism) to respecting each other to friends and then ultimately to more. Yes there was back and forth and yes there was some angst, but none of it was TOO MUCH for me. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning Connor’s relationship with Lizzie’s brothers too. Guys who are good with kids make me all heart melty. He definitely fit the bill… and then some.
At the risk of even slight spoilers, I have to say how much I respected the way this book ended. It’s actually one of my favorite things about the book (you know, aside from the amazing characters, “fresh” writing style and story I fell head over heels in love with). I’d imagine it’s tempting, as an author, to want to wrap everything up in a nice bow at the end of your book. As much as I love a good HEA (and this one has one, don’t fret!) I also have a fondness for the realistic ending. When things are too perfect, it doesn’t seem quite as real as I want it to be… especially in a book like this one. There was a lot going on and a lot of things to consider for the future. Giving Last Will and Testament a picture perfect ending would’ve rang false for me. It was perfect just the way it was.
I will warn you, the book hangover with Last Will and Testament is real. It’s vicious and will likely make you question all your reading choices for days to come. Not every couple is Lizzie and Connor and not everyone writes like Dahlia. Even writing this review, I want to go back and reread this book. I won’t yet, but it is destined to be a story I turn to again and again, just when I need to feel some feels.
Of course, in the meantime I’ll be chomping at the bit waiting for the release of Right of First Refusal, the second book in the Radleigh University series. (At this point I’d settle for even just a release DATE.) I need more!
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.