Bad Reputation (Bad Reputation #1) by K.B. NelsonBad Reputation by K.B. Nelson
Published June 2015
Series: Bad Reputation #1
Genres: Dramatic Romance, Forbidden Romance
Format: ARC

Note: I was granted an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my rating or the content of my review.

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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.

What I loved about this book:

  • The refreshing plot
  • The peculiar characters
  • The steamy scenes

What I felt needed improvement:

  • The rushed insta-love/insta-lust
  • The no-so-plausible happy ending
  • The lack of character description

I was granted an ARC of this book via Netgalley and had absolutely no idea what it was about. Upon closer inspection, I understood this was a kind of Liaisons Dangereuses / Cruel Intentions novel. In other words, it had great potential.

Whoever is familiar with the aforementioned movie, will soon notice that Brick Valmont is playing the role Sarah Michelle Gellar (the conniving and plotting creep), Apple Malloy is playing Ryan Philippe’s role, and Reese Witherspoon’s role – Apple’s prey – would be college-teacher Jensen Moon.

The plot started out great: Apple was, herself, the victim of a bet during her senior year, and fell in love (and gave up her V-card) to some jock who was only trying to prove something.

“Mike bet me five hundred dollars that I couldn’t make you fall in love with me before prom. I think it’s safe to say I’m much richer tonight than I was yesterday. Thanks for the lay.”

During her college year, she meets Brick, who spots her straight away. He intuitively pinpoints what’s wrong with her and takes advantage of her weak state. Well, I don’t know if you could say that he took advantage of her but he definitely taught her to become a carbon-copy of himself. A ruthless alpha-bitch that’s out to get everyone. She’s basically making it her mission to seduce innocent men and leave them brokenhearted just to take revenge on what happened to her.

“I’m a user and I’m an abuser. I get what I want when I want it. I will never be a victim to anyone in this world again.”

Just like in Cruel Intentions, there is a very awkward yet obvious attraction between Brick and Apple (montor and mentee), but one that Apple won’t give in to. All she wants is to become better at this game then her master, which brings to life a cruel bet. Both of them aim to seduce and destroy two unattainable people: Brick wants to go for a senator’s daughter, and Apple has her eyes on the puritan college teacher Jensen Moon. Should Brick win, he gets Apple’s body; and should she win, nothing would please her more than having Brick admit his student surpassed the master.

“Fuck who you want. Fuck when you want. Keep your heart protected and never, under any circumstances fall in love.”

The way the story was set was perfect and I was more than eager to find out how it would all play out. Unfortunately, I was a tad disappointed at how the author turned things around. I really expected the story to turn out differently, or more specifically – I expected Jensen (the college teacher) to be a harder nut to crack. After all, he was supposed to be pure and incorruptible. Except he all but was, since I had the feeling that he was well aware Apple – his not-so-role-model student – was up to no good, and thus turned her advances to his own advantage.

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Don’t get me wrong – I loved this twist in the story and the fact that Jensen had his own, legitimate motives. But the attraction between Apple and Jensen was just too instantaneous. There were many suspenseful twists in the story (although short-lived), so Bad Reputation held my attention, but I was still extremely disappointed at the ending.

I found it hard to believe that after all that happened, there could still be a happy ending to this story – it also came much too easily. There’s no tragic life-termination by car-accident as is the case in Cruel Intentions, but frankly, what did happen in Bad Reputation‘s ending wasn’t very plausible and just made me roll my eyes through and through. No, really. It sounds harsh, but the ending just didn’t work for me. Especially since Apple and Jensen did a huge 360, which was hard to believe.

View Spoiler »

“You asked me what you meant to me. You mean the world to me. You’re my escape from this fucked-up world.”

As far as the writing is concerned, I must say it was really good – the characters were peculiar and refreshing, and the steamy-scenes were great. I was however a bit disappointed by the fact that there was not much description in this book, especially around the main characters’ looks. It might have been said at some point, but I still have no idea if the heroine is actually a blonde or brunette… This was good because it made me think up my own version and character looks, but on the other hand, knowing what the characters looked like would have made it easier for me to understand what kind of people I was “facing”. And probably connect with them better – because I can’t really connect or sympathize with any of the characters in the book.

Anyway, it was still an interesting, out-of-the-ordinary read, which means I’ll definitely be intrigued to pick up the next book in this series!

Detailed Rating
3.5 Stars
4 Stars
4 Stars
All the feels
3 Stars
Overall: three-half-stars