She knows better. She just doesn’t care.
Apple Malloy is a woman scorned. Scorned by a society that has shamed her, and scorned by the men who have claimed her. On the verge of college graduation, Apple finds herself entangled in one last game of manipulation, deceit and sexual corruption with her former lover, and constant enabler, Brick Valmont.
Apple sets her sights on Jensen Moon—the enigmatic professor who had failed her the semester prior—and vows revenge. She’ll make him fall in love with her, and then break his heart, leaving his reputation destroyed in the process.
Brick makes her a wager she can’t refuse.
If Apple can seduce Jensen before Brick can sleep with Tyra Young, the beautiful, innocent daughter of a sitting U.S. Senator, then she will emerge victorious. If she wins, she gets the satisfaction that she has beaten him at his own game. If she loses, she must sleep with Brick one last time before heading separate ways.
Apple is a pro at this. She knows how to maneuver men and wrap them around her finger. She knows how to get what she wants, but Jensen tosses an unexpected grenade into her path to victory. Soon, she realizes it is she that might face the worst fate of all.
She falls in love.
Jensen has a power over Apple and it terrifies her. He can make her feel things. He can make her heart race. He might be the only one capable of saving her soul before it’s too late. But one thing is certain—nobody escapes unscathed in this titillating story of manipulation where nothing is as it appears.
Bad Reputation is the first book in the Bad Reputation series, and is loosely based on the 1782 classic novel, Dangerous Liaisons.
I grew up on a farm in Ohio, but that's not very interesting, is it? When I'm not writing you can find me doing one of two things; getting lost on highways or getting lost in the lives of fictional characters. If my heart had two feet, one foot would be in romance and the other solidly in geekdom. I hope you'll all follow me on my journey through this carnival they call life. I promise there will be a happy ending.
Find K.B. Nelson
As some of you may remember, I fell in love with KB Nelson last summer when I devoured her debut novel, Carnival, in one sitting. Carnival, and its' two sequels, would go on to make up one of my all time favorite NA Romance series, securing KB Nelson a spot on my 'auto-read' list. When Nelson approached me months ago with the idea for what would later become Bad Reputation, I didn't know what to expect or how she would ever pull it off. I'm here to tell you folks, she did. And she did it well.
This one was a relatively short read, but Nelson still managed to pack a major punch. Page after page I found the plot to be riveting and I was completely immersed in 'what ifs' and 'what nexts'. This novel deals with a lot of content that I generally wouldn't be interested in reading. In fact, the entire premise is something I probably wouldn't have ever picked up on my own, but after reading it, I'm so glad I took a step outside of my comfort zone to check it out. I was really impressed with the way Nelson was able to write such a plot line, yet utilize her beautiful writing voice in telling the story. It was definitely a gamble that paid off in the end.
So with this series, Nelson is hoping to tell the stories of several different characters in the relation to one singular theme. With book one we follow the stories of best friends and former lovers Apple and Brick, whose stories become intertwined with a number of characters, including Apple's professor, Jensen. Seeing as Bad Reputation is primarily Apple's story, we see the storyline from Apple's side of things. Apple and Brick are two people that I would never talk to in real life. Just being honest. In terms of morality, they have little, and stand for nearly everything I hate. They're both extremely flawed, immature, and so imperfect that you know Nelson did it deliberately. When bad-girl Apple being to fall for her prey, Jensen, the story takes on an entirely new meaning. With a touch of love in her heart, Apple transforms. From cold and heartless to passionate and misunderstood, Apple warmed my heart completely by the closing of the final page. Her character transformation was truly impressive. As for Brick? I hated him more with each passing page. I don't say this often, but I hated his character so much that I'm not sure I'm interested in reading an entire novel about him. He deserves whatever awfulness Nelson decides to throw in his direction! If anything, I found Jensen's character to be a bit comical. He has a horribly heartbreaking backstory that the reader only sees a glimpse of, but through several different aspects of his life, we learn that Jensen is essentially a walking paradox, which made for some really interesting storytelling on Nelson's part!
Folks, I'll be real with you, Bad Reputation was so much more than a surface read for me. At first glance, it's a fun, yet twisted, face paced tale of betrayal and manipulation, but the deep seeded underbelly of this novel makes it Nelson's most thought-provoking work yet. The most prevailing theme in this novel was that of redemption. Is there truly redemption for all acts? In the eyes of society, can anyone be redeemed no matter the circumstances? My thoughts? No. They can't. Some acts are just too terrible to be forgiven. While I believe that one can find a sliver of hope in most every person or situation, some people are just evil. Some acts are unforgivable. Some souls are just so corrupt that redemption is not an option. I'm not sure what Nelson's end-game here is, nor am I sure she considered the profound deepness of her words when writing Bad Reputation, but I strongly question whether these characters are deserving of any inkling of their own 'Happily Ever After'.
During multiple points of the novel I found myself agog in disbelief that something had happened. The lengths at which these characters will go for the act of their own sadistic games really blew me away. I won't lie, as horrible of people as they were, each cruel act had me turning each page faster to see what happened next. I was waiting for the hand of God to smite them where they stood, alas, it seems everyone made it out of book one alive. Humiliated, scarred for life, and emotionally drained, but alive nonetheless.
As you can see, Bad Reputation was definitely a read that gave me a lot to ponder. Only KB Nelson could leave me with such thoughts after reading a novel full of sexual tension and New Adult debauchery. That's a gift people. I've yet to read anything by this author that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. That being said, I am granting Bar Reputation a well-deserved 4-star review. I cannot wait to see what happens next in the series. I hope each passing installment continues to stir such strong emotion as this one did!
Alright folks, that's all I have for you on the topic of Bad Reputation by KB Nelson. The start of an exciting new series, you won't want to miss this one folks. It's definitely one of the more unique reads I've devoured in some time. Looking for something different to add to your TBR? Don't miss this one! I'm anxiously awaiting Nelson's second installment. Be sure to check back soon to see my thoughts on it as well! Until next time, Happy Reading!