Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Rules - Elizabeth Brown (Off-Limits #2)

Rating: 4 Stars
Published: February 2016
ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Rules is book two in the Off-Limits series. In this book we see Ainsley, Ryan's little sister, meeting Lambo at his and Ryan's graduation. She's all purple haired and adult looking at 16 and in that moment she becomes untouchable. Lambo knows best-friend guy code, especially when it comes to sisters. Now an adult, Ainsley is still closed off and Lambo, well he's always thought she hated him. Spending time together is inevitable though, especially when they go on a joint trip to Vegas with Ryan and his girlfriend. What unfolds is a forbidden fling of epic proportions and Ainsley is too blinded by him being her brother's friend to realize all her worst fears never came true, in fact it was the exact opposite.

 Oh Ainsley, this girl has had life thrown at her in the worst ways and I felt for her completely. To some readers it may seem she has every cliche problem the author could give her, but the reality is that most of Ainsley's life could easily be real life for anyone. I connected to her instantly, her past breaking my heart and her hard wall something I wanted to break down. She was intriguing, funny, and genuinely a fun character POV to read. Then there's Lambo, cocky and defiant, his POV a bit outrageous. I didn't expect to like him, but like he did to Ainsley, he broke down all my pre-conceived notions about him. He may have been wealthy and spoiled, but he was also understanding and compassionate, two things I didn't guess him to be. The chemistry between these two certainly never died down and the rekindling, as well as how they dealt with Ainsley's little situation, was super fun and funny to read. The rules of bro-code are certainly broken in this book, but as Ainsley and Lambo explore their relationship, and lean on one another for support, it all seems worth it in the end. I really liked how overprotective Ryan was as a brother, because we saw a different side to him with Natalie. I also really have to hand it to Elizabeth Brown, because working through Ryan and Ainsley's family past wasn't an easy one, but was handled extremely well.

I admit, some parts of this book are hard to believe, especially a womanizer turning out to be the most compassionate friend. While I believe in the lust and chemistry between the two main characters, the feelings still moved fast for me, especially given Ainsley's personal problems. I wanted to see Ainsley explore relationships after Lambo had solved her problems and helped her open up, however I liked them together as well and I like how much he did for Ainsley to bring her out of her shell and face her fears.

I am a big fan of brother's best friends turned lovers books, I like the development that takes place between the main character and the guy, as well as the main character and the brother, and the brother and best friend. There seems to be a lot more depth to these books, and the reality is I have had a lot of friends date their brother's friends. The best part of this book though wasn't the who, it was the what and how Elizabeth Brown made it all work. The subjects are sensitive, the past is heartbreaking, and the relationship between Ainsley and Lambo is much more than just lust and chemistry, but really a huge growing period, especially for Ainsley. I liked the topics of trust, of sharing, and not looking at oneself as damaged. If you are looking for a book, a whole series really, that is more than just a contemporary romance, this The Rules is it for you. I loved the characters, the writing style, and the witty humor that fills the pages of this book.

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