In this explosive novel from bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?
Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.
I might’ve only been twenty-five, but I wasn’t waxing poetic when I said I’ve been through hell and back and seen it all. Literally. Twice. I’ve seen death, life, murder, pain, anger, hatred, and joy. Not much of the last one, but I’ve seen it. I just hadn’t really experienced it. But whatever. I wasn’t the type to cry over the life I’ve been handed.
You lived. You fucked. You died. The end.
In the end, no one really gave a damn about you once you were gone. That was why I lived life for today, instead of planning for tomorrow. It was also why I didn’t give a damn about anyone or anything, because in the end they wouldn’t give a damn about me. That was a lesson I learned before I was eleven. I made sure not to care about anyone enough to let them hurt me, because that was how the world treated me. That was the way I’d lived my life for the last fifteen years, and it was the way I always would. . . .
With one exception.
But that hadn’t exactly worked out so well for me.
My gaze fell on the blonde dancing on the floor with an abandon for life that I didn’t quite grasp, and never had. My unquenchable interest in the blonde dancing seductively in the crowd didn’t make much sense. The feelings she stirred inside me went deeper than lust, as if I somehow knew her, or should. I didn’t know how deep those feelings went, and I had no intention of finding out, but still. They were there.
Maybe it was because I’ve avoided people in general since coming home—women in particular. Not because I was nervous or any shit like that. Hitting on a gorgeous woman never intimidated me, for the most part. It was just that I was focused on trying to re-accustom myself to civilian life, and I didn’t want to drag another person into the shitstorm that my life was right now. But I spotted this woman when I walked through the door, and I hadn’t been able to take my eyes off her since.
My reaction to her had been fast and sure.
I was so fully isolated that no one in my family even knew I was Stateside, and I hadn’t been back long, but the second I saw this woman, I knew she had to come home with me tonight. Screw isolation. I’d rather screw her. I could easily lose myself in her arms for an hour or two. Her soft curves and long, wavy blond hair teased me and made me feel alive for the first time in God knows how long. It looked unbelievably soft, and my fingers itched with the desire to see if I was right. If it was as soft as it seemed.
It was time to find out.
Smoothing my shirt, I stood up and took a step toward her. But she turned around, and I prepared myself for my first full view of her—shit. That wasn’t a hot blonde I could take home, give a few orgasms to, and forget. She wasn’t even a light flirtation I could indulge in.
No, she was my little stepsister. Lilly Hastings.
The one whom I’d kissed seven years ago, and then never saw again. Only she wasn’t so little anymore. And she was even more drop-dead gorgeous.
She’d always been on my mind, thanks to the letters she’d sent, but I never spoke to her again after that night. I think, in a way, I was ashamed of how things ended. Of the way we’d kissed and then gotten caught. I never even checked in with her to see if she got in trouble after I left. If she’d been okay. And that was just shitty.
Did she hate me now? She should. I deserved it.
I forced myself to stand still. To not approach her, or flee.
We had nothing in common. Not anymore. She didn’t know what it was like to sweat in a desert for years, or to watch your buddies get blown to pieces. She didn’t know what loss and pain felt like. She didn’t know me.
So I sat the hell back down on my stool.
If she wanted to dance her little heart out, and bring home four guys—well, that was none of my business. And I wasn’t gonna do a damn thing to make sure she made it home safely afterward, because she wasn’t really my sister, and I wasn’t really her big brother. I didn’t need to look out for her. She was better off without me messing around in her affairs. Look what happened last time—a clusterfuck.
It was why I never wrote her back, or contacted her. The guilt over my actions, and over the punishments she had to have suffered because of them, weighed me down. And in true Jackson Worthington fashion, instead of apologizing or writing her back . . . I ran from my problems until it was way too late to apologize.
Instead of returning her sentiments of love and affection, I read her letters, savored them, and never wrote back for one reason and one reason only.
I knew she deserved better.
She needed to move on, and get over her girlish infatuation with me. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. I knew it. And good ol’ Walt did, too. She wasn’t made for a guy like me. Lilly belonged in the world of trust funds and diamonds, not army guys and shitty base housing.
She was made for bigger and better things, and she needed to realize that. To forget about me. I might never have stopped caring for her, but since she stopped writing me once she got into college . . . something told me she’d wised up and moved on.
I’d gotten my wish.
Too bad it felt like shit.
I’ve enjoyed Jen McLaughlin and couldn’t wait to read Bad Romance. With the popularity of the stepbrother romances, I was looking forward to McLaughlin’s take.
Right away we are introduced to Jackson and get a glimpse of the family dynamics. It is six years later when Jackson and Lily run into each other again. That attraction is still there and McLaughlin provides a front seat to their struggle. While enjoying McLaughlin’s writing and the heat of this stepbrother romance, I found I liked Jackson just a bit more than Lily. And where there was definite character growth and development with Jackson, I may have wanted more from Lily.
Bad Romance was a fun, quick read and I’ll be looking to read whatever Jen McLaughlin has planned next.
Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin and Random House. Under her pen name Diane Alberts, she is also an USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, released September 6 2013, and hit the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.
Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and three cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.