Review: Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward

November 1, 2014 Book Review 5 ★★★

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Stepbrother DearestStepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward
Published by Self-pub on September 23rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, New Adult, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Buy the Book
You’re not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a jerk he’d be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn’t want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. Then, things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Just as quickly as he’d come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I’d seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I’d have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.

I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

Stepbrother Dearest is a standalone novel.

**Contains graphic sexual content and harsh language. It is only appropriate for adult readers age 18+

Stepbrother Dearest popped up on my twitter timeline a couple weeks ago and I was instantly intrigued. Damn that thirst for forbidden love romances! I immediately one-clicked the book and read it all in a day’s time, needing that angsty romance fix.

The book starts out a little cliché, Greta is that good girl living with her loving mom and stepfather. Enter her new stepbrother she’s never met who she’s immediately attracted to, despite his bad boy attitude. It was obvious there was more going on with him and his father that caused a lot of the strife and bad behavior. Elec was rude and moody, treating Greta terribly quite often right from their first meeting. Of course she doesn’t care and is determined to break through to him. I’m conflicted about this. I mean, on the one hand I found Greta to be almost a doormat to his bad behavior. She let him treat her bad and instead of holding her own, she accepted it and just kept trying to befriend him.  But I also liked that in the same moment she didn’t give up on him. I wish the character found another way to handle the attitude because it did bother me to see her upset with his rudeness yet she kept taking it and taking it. It wasn’t always like that though. Some instances between them led to small childish pranks that made me laugh. That Elec I liked. Eventually things change between the two as they find common ground and stop trying to fight their feelings. Because of the forbiddenness of their relationship there is some unresolved sexual tension that develops. But of course the plot thickens and forces take the two from each other’s lives.

My favorite part of the novel was when we time jump years later after they’ve spent all that time apart with no contact. This is when the good angsty feelings were the strongest for me. Elec and Greta had matured over the years and that unresolved sexual tension between the two of them was back in full force. We finally learn more about Elec’s past that made his relationship with his father so volatile. The scenes where Elec breaks down from his conflicting emotions were heartfelt and sincere.

Where the book sort of lost me was about 2/3 into the story when Elec gives Greta a very personal book he had written about his life. Elec had a secret desire to be a writer as a kid and giving this book to Greta was a huge step in breaking down those last few barriers he had up. I was initially excited to hear from his perspective but it went on and on and on. It did not read like a book or journal a character might have written about certain times in their life. It read like a complete rehashing by the author of all the previous events now from Elec’s perspective, complete with the same dialogue. Did we really need all of that to get the point? It took up 20% of the story. 20%!!  I had to skim it was so monotonous. I was bummed the story took this route.

Overall I enjoyed the meat of this novel. I was entertained enough to fly through it in a few hours and liked the chemistry that develops between our two forbidden lovers. If you also like that sort of thing, you may want to check this one out.


About Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of Gemini, Jake Undone, My Skylar and Stepbrother Dearest. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers. Penelope spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family friendly career.

Penelope lives for reading books in the new adult genre, coffee and hanging out with her friends and family on weekends.

She is the proud mother of a beautiful 9-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 7-year-old boy, both of whom are the lights of her life.

Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island. She is currently working on her fourth novel and last in the Gemini series, Jake Understood (expected publication early 2015).

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

5 Responses to “Review: Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward”

  1. Joy (Joyousreads)

    I was so excited to read this book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations, unfortunately. The biography that he’s written seemed like a way to extend the book. On the other hand, it gave the readers a sort of, kind of POV from his perspective. But oh. It annoyed me that his apparent “writing talents” is good. What?!
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    • Sara @ Forever 17 Books

      You are so right, ugh. If we were to get a writing sample from him, I wish it felt like one. I mean there have been other books where a character’s writing is shown (The poetry in Slammed comes to mind first) and it felt like it came from the characters and was good. This didn’t feel like that at all. Such a bummer.

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