Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University #1) by Dahlia AdlerLast Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Published December 2014
Series: Radleigh University #1
Genres: New Adult
four-stars
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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Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Lizzie Brandt is living her student life to the fullest. The former high school valedictorian has put the brakes on studying to the expense of her grades and enjoys partying and boys instead. However, her parents die in a tragic accident, leaving her as sole caretaker for her two younger brothers, and it is time for her to fess up. Either she gets her grades up to maintain her scholarship, or she gets thrown out of Radleigh University, making caring for her brothers even more difficult.

Her last resort is to ask her stuck up and geeky history TA Connor Lawson for tutoring. Unexpectedly, Connor helps her with more than just tutoring, and soon, the slowly growing friendship turns into something more. However, the relationship that helped put Lizzie’s life back together threatens both her family and Connor’s career.

What I loved about this book:

+ Well-written forbidden romance (TA/student relationship)
+ Extremely realistic and loveable characters
+ Super swoonworthy male MC

What I felt needed improvement:

– While the plot seemed realistic, the end of the story seemed a little less so, but this doesn’t impact my rating as I found it okay.

Sooo… A TA/student relationship with a considerable age gap and tragic circumstances? This sounded like something I had to read, and I wasn’t disappointed!
The book felt very real and so did the characters, although Connor seemed quite infatuated and extremely eager to help Lizzie every way he can, even when Lizzie wasn’t instantly the most likeable character since she’s made her fair share of mistakes (too much partying and behaving a bit like a w…) But as the reader you see her grow throughout the story, in a trial-and-error MO, as she has to deal with the consequences of her actions and with the added pain of losing her parents and having to take care of her siblings.

I couldn’t help but feel like this felt a lot like Colleen Hoover’s masterpiece Slammed, which also deals with a forbidden relationship and teenagers being the only caretakers for their siblings. At first, I was afraid that it would be a bad copycat… But while I am quite sure Slammed did inspire this book a great deal (probably just as much as Ezra from Pretty Little Liars), Last Will and Testament managed to be a unique and unexpected book.

I loved the singularity of the main characters and all the details the author chose to make them come to life: Lizzie is the exotic, quirky and sassy student, whereas Connor is the Canadian nerdy history TA who wears glasses, so the swoonfactor is over the top, even though his cursing in Canadian French was a bit annoying (and weird).

I also hugely enjoyed the building romance and the banter between Connor and Lizzie. It seemed like their interactions helped Lizzie put her life into perspective and help her. Again, it felt very real, and miles away from your average insta-love plot.

The intrigue – and eventually the one that will uncover Lizzie and Connor’s relationship – might be a bit far-fetched in how it plays out, but it did work well for me and made this an enjoyable read from front to back. I’ll stay tuned for the next book in the series and wonder what/who it will be about.

One thing I need to mention though: Lizzie’s alleged best friends seemed to be quite superficial and in the end, it felt like they were never there for her, which I really did not appreciate, especially since Lizzie didn’t seem to notice the sudden disinterest (sometime disdain) in her situation. I really hope the next book won’t be about any of those two…

Detailed Rating
Storyline
4 Stars
Characters
5 Stars
Writing
4 Stars
All the feels
5 Stars
Overall: four-stars