I do not have time to read, but the books just keep getting stuck to my face. UF, HF, YA, fluffy romance, whatever. I love it all.
But I might judge you if you hand out five stars all willy nilly.
Bully, for me, was compulsively readable. As in, I could not put it down even though I felt guilty for enjoying it. I was impressed when Penelope Douglas was able to take a character that I hated (Jared) and turn it around enough for me to root for them at the end. I never fully understood his motivations for his cruelty to Tate, although he did cough up an excuse at some point, but I liked Tate and I enjoyed the overall ride of the story so I gave him a pass.
And then, I read this book.
Penelope's writing is still compulsively readable, but after spending some time in Jared's head, not only do I not understand or forgive his actions, I have greater clarity on just how toxic he is. For some reason, when I read Bully I was under the impression that Jared treated Tate horribly freshman and sophomore year, but felt regret over it and it just took them half the book to work up to him saying he was sorry. Jared's behavior was not misinterpreted. He really hated Tatum… when he wasn't lusting after her.
"I wanted her to hurt. I didn’t want her to hurt. I hated her. I loved her. I wanted to violate her body in a hundred different ways. I wanted to keep her safe."
He wants to violate her body in a hundred different ways?
Ummmmm, that is not ok.
Jared's thoughts about Tatum were dark and scary and not thoughts that a healthy person would be having. He actively sought out her best friend in order to start up a relationship (a fake-ish one, but Tate didn't know that) with the express intent for Tatum to find out and be hurt by it. He got upset about stuff and destroyed his house. Like, literally, with a baseball bat.
"Every picture that my mother had of me smiling and every fucking figurine that gave the impression that we were a happy household was destroyed. In two hours, the house was ripped apart from top to bottom as I got lost and exhausted."
You guys, Jared was a nut job. Yes, I understand that he had a traumatic experience and his father damaged him and that he was upset when he came home and discovered his mother was spending time with Tatum and her dad at the park. Boo hoo. He is not a vampire. He does not get a free pass to turn off his humanity switch. And don't even get me started on all the girls he used like disposable tissues in this book while reviling them in his head, or how ridiculous his visits with his dad were. He was purposefully malicious and cruel to Tatum for years on end, and he never had a valid reason. He was still having dark and twisty thoughts about her even after she got home from France. I'm not sure what about this was supposed to make me swoon, but I'm not feeling swoonish. I'm feeling really bummed that this is considered romantic. After reading half the book, I am fully convinced that Jared never needed a girlfriend. This poor boy needed therapy. And possibly a restraining order.