Review: Bad Romance by Jen McLaughlin (Stepbrother #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept in exchange for an honest review.

Seven years ago, Jackson Worthington gave Lilly Hastings her first kiss, though she more took the kiss the received it. Then they got caught by her father who just happened to be Jackson's stepfather. Yes, Jackson and Lilly were step-siblings and it was that one kiss that led to Jackson getting kicked out of their house and being able to freely sign up and become a Marine. Lilly writes to him and while he never replies, he savors every single letter she sends, each one serving as a lifeline to the only girl who meant more to him.

Seven years have passed since Lilly last saw her stepbrother, but when they meet again, he's even hotter than he was as an eighteen-year-old that had his fifteen-year-old stepsister's heart all a-flutter. He looks intent on keeping his distance from her, but Lilly has other plans. People have gotten too used to telling her what to do, expecting her to sit idly by and let them take over her life. Not anymore. She knows what she wants and it's the one person she's always wanted and intends to now make a play for: her stepbrother.

Bad Romance is a standalone contemporary romance by bestselling author Jen McLaughlin and tackles what's surprisingly become one of the more popular book trends this year: taboo romance, or more specifically, step-sibling romance. Jackson Worthington's mother is married to Lilly Hastings' father and, during the early stages of that marriage, the step-siblings shared one kiss that rocked their worlds but nothing more came of it because Jackson left and became a Marine and cut off any and all communication with Lilly and their parents. It takes seven years for Jackson and Lilly to reunite but Jackson is dealing with certain issues, one of which just happens to be his still-existent feelings for his step-sister. The two are very much drawn to one another, but Lilly is in what can only be called an arranged engagement that will, obviously, lead to an arranged marriage. The question is, will Lilly be the good little girl she's always been and do what her domineering father wants or will she finally fight for her happiness and choose Jackson?

This was an okay read, but one that I felt lacked in certain departments. Jackson is seeing a therapist, but we're left to assume what he's actually suffering from. Is it post-traumatic stress disorder or is it something else? Also, the whole arranged marriage thing just came off as being a tad flimsy of a point of conflict between the two, especially since there are other ways to save a company that's financially flailing. After all, Lilly was the good girl who wanted to rebel and be her own person, but she was still doing her father's bidding by choosing to agree to the whole engagement slash marriage. I couldn't help but feel for poor Jackson, who has already experienced rejection from his father and then his mother choosing to stand by her jackass of a new husband instead of supporting her son. Lilly being adamant about saving thousands of people didn't win her any points in my book because the whole self-sacrificing bit gets tiresome when it becomes obvious that you simply don't have a backbone and are actually quite cowardly.

While this was, by no means, a terrible book, I guess I was just left feeling a bit disappointed by it all. Lilly said one thing and did anymore and Jackson became more of a lovesick fool than I was anticipating. I would have also wanted a deeper look into Jackson's father and possibly gotten some sort of resolution in terms of his relationship with his mother. The fact that he was a Marine doesn't even play that big of a part in the story, other than his getting shot. It's almost as if his stint was rather unremarkable and yet he chose to remain in Corps even if it meant no longer seeing action via deployments. I'm one of those people who doesn't get shocked by the whole step-sibling romance angle, especially since, for all intents and purposes, they're legally allowed to have a relationship and get married because they aren't blood related. I get the whole taboo aspect of being part of the same family but with the market being saturated with these books, I'm looking for something unique. Like I said, Bad Romance was okay, but I wanted more. Three stars. ♥

Release Date: 15 September 2015

Date Read: 14 September 2015

Learn more about Jen McLaughlin here.

Purchase Bad Romance on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.


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