Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review and Promo: "Very Wicked Beginnings" and "Very Wicked Things" by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Because Ilsa Madden-Mills fell in love with her beautifully flawed characters in Very Wicked Things, she penned Very Wicked Beginnings as a prequel novella to the book, featuring the story of football star Cuba Hudson and ballerina Dovey Beckham. 

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, all May proceeds from the sale of the novella will be donated to The Keith Milano Memorial Fund which benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Very Wicked Beginnings
Author: Ilsa Madden Mills
Series: Briarcrest Academy #1.5
Prequel novella to Very Wicked Things
Girls say I’m a walking, talking sex god. Guys call me Hollywood because my life is golden. 

It’s not.

But, ESPN did rank me as a four star recruit, calling me one of the best defensive players since Briarcrest Academy opened its esteemed doors. So yeah, with football and a stellar GPA, my future seemed good.

Then Dovey Beckham shows up in her short skirts and ballet shoes. Driving me insane. Making me want to beg for her attention. 

But that wouldn’t happen, because Cuba Hudson didn’t beg for anything.

She walked around BA like she owned the place, and most days she looked right through me…the one girl I couldn’t have.

So, of course, I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.

Because no girl can resist the Heartbreaker of BA.

But I never planned on destroying her. 

I never planned on wrecking the one thing that could save me.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, where wicked love begins…and ends.

~ 5 STARS ~

“Because no matter who people think you are, no one really knows what’s underneath.” – Cuba

Whoa. This prequel novella to Very Wicked Things was just…perfect. Full of so much emotion and depth. Well done, Ilsa! Loved it. Here, we got to see the beginning of what would become one hell of an emotional roller coaster called Cuba and Dovey. We got to see how they met and everything that was going on in their lives. We got to experience the heartache of what they called their reality.

“Because I wanted her more than I’d ever wanted any girl.”

Cuba was a player. Never interested in chasing after a girl, much less establishing a relationship with her. Until Dovey. It baffled him beyond belief, but he could not stay away from her. For the life of him, he could not explain it, but he craved her…needed her in his life. So he pursued her.

“…I was alive but barely living.”     

Dovey was not part of the cool and rich clique. She was from the wrong side of town. She knew the reality of her situation and she was okay with it. So the fact that the hottest guy in school wanted HER, confused her. It threw her off. She was guarded to this new situation but really, how much could she fight against her heart?

Cuba and Dovey cliqued. Their lives were different, yet not. People thought they knew them, but really they didn’t. They only knew what both Cuba and Dovey let everyone else see. Yet funnily enough, Dovey and Cuba saw each other for who they really were.

Very Wicked Beginnings grabbed my full attention from page one. I was beyond intrigued to see Cuba and Dovey’s relationship develop and grow into what I knew would be a wild ride. And sure enough, Ilsa Madden-Mills knocked it out of the park with these two!

“Because this was just the beginning. A very wicked beginning.”

Author: Ilsa Madden Mills
Series: Briarcrest Academy #2
Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarcrest Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body but never her heart. 

Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.

Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.

But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy…especially when dirty money, past sins, and old flames threaten the very fabric of their lives.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, where sometimes, only the wicked survive.

~ 5 STARS ~

“Does doing a wicked thing make you bad inside? I must believe it doesn’t.”

Let me start off by saying that I loved book one, Very Bad Things, but Very Wicked Things, blew me away!! Wow!!! It was way more complex and touched even darker subjects that made it an angst-driven page turner. I simply did not want to stop reading. I found myself saying “oh, crap!” several times along the way and just when I thought things could simmer down, Ilsa would shock me time and time again.

“I still ached to have his eyes see me.”

Something had happened between Cuba and Dovey. Something bad. My heart ached for them. Throughout the book we got to see them very much broken up, so I was curious to see WHY they were apart. Especially when I knew in my heart that they belonged together. And again, my heart ached. Hell, it broke. Quite literally. Their break-up?? HORRIBLE! I felt SO bad for Dovey…so, so, SO BAD. To say it was a humiliating situation would be a gross understatement. However, I sympathized with Cuba. I understood WHY he did what he did. Did it make it any less painful? No. But at the same time, I couldn’t hate him for it.

“I gave you my heart, and you destroyed it.”

This story line was a roller coaster full of very high ups and very low downs. My heart raced a few times and broke a few more. There was so much going on!!! So many things happened that just…wow. So many secrets and surprises. Dovey and Cuba had it ROUGH. And even though they tried to stay away from each other, away from all the heartache they had caused each other, they simply couldn’t fight it anymore. Slowly they started falling into each other again. They started giving in.

“Love is hard to define; it just IS. And, I don’t know why we fell for each other, two people from opposite worlds, but I knew I had to hold on to it, fight for it.”

“I can’t fucking breathe without her.”

Both Dovey and Cuba were in many ways forced to grow up way before their time. They had seen things no one should ever witness and done things no one should ever experience. Towards the end, I was about to have a full on freak-out moment. Really, I was. I could not see how things would work out for them! Things kept getting worse and worse to the point that I was super anxious. I needed Dovey and Cuba to get their happily ever after. Needed it.  But despite all that happened to them, their love persisted. It brought them together and better yet, kept them together. Suffice it to say I LOVED how this book ended. Loved it. I seriously can’t speak highly enough about this book. Ilsa really knocked it out of the park. I HIGHLY recommend you buy this book! You’ll thank me later. :)

“Let go. I’ll catch you every single time.”


I got out of the shower and dressed hurriedly, anxious to get back to Cuba.

The door opened, and like he did it every single day, he stepped inside the steamy bathroom. 

“Think I need a shower, too,” he said, his fingers easing off his football practice shirt. 

What? Now?

Trying to play it cool and failing miserably, I moved my eyes off his naked chest and checked out his track pants and the obvious bulge he sported. 

Oh. Did his lower body match the rest of him? Was it all sinewy muscle and big? 

Just, yeah. That thought got stuck in my head and went round and round.

“You staying?” he asked, a grin working his face. Pleased at my open admiration, probably.

“No,” I said, but made no move to go. ‘Cause I had no shame when it came to catching a glimpse of his muscular body.

“Good,” he said, his smile broadening.

He pivoted to turn on the shower, and my eyes betrayed me again, admiring the muscles in his back, checking out how they twitched and rippled when he moved. Football and rowing had been good to him. My fingers itched to know how they’d feel underneath my hands. Which was stupid because we had nothing in common. Not a rich Highland Park boy and a poor girl from Ratcliffe. 

And most importantly, he was a player, not to be trusted.

He hooked his thumbs into his pants, paused a moment—maybe waiting to see if I’d run from the room?—but when I didn’t budge, he slid them and his underwear off. My mouth opened. Cuba Hudson, the most popular guy at Briarcrest was standing right in front of me, naked and beautiful. And like the cocky bastard he was, he posed for me, his big-ass biceps and chiseled abs making me vibrate all over. Need for him slammed into me.

Did I say he was hot? 

Well, I was wrong. 

He was off-the-charts, no-holds-barred, freaking going make-me-lose-my-mind-right-there delicious. The ultimate man-candy, the kind I knew to stay away from, yet here I was, ogling him.

“Still leaving?” he asked huskily.

“Any minute,” I said in a weak voice, backing up to the wall and propping myself up. “Just chillin’. Shower wore me out. I might need to hold this wall up for a sec.”

“I want you to stay,” he said, eyes at half-mast, glowing with heat.

“Why?” I said, aching to touch him. But that was crazy. I was a virgin, and I didn’t know jack about touching a guy’s you-know-what. 

“Look at me, Dovey.”

I tore my eyes from his manhood, blushing.

His eyes burned. “There’s a sense of urgency in my head. Like our time is limited.”

I nodded. Yeah, same here.

“And, I’ll be honest, I don’t want to rush you, but I’m dying to sink into you. I want to set you on fire with need for me.” He ghosted his hands over the steel rod between his legs. Once, twice, and—holy shizzle, he didn’t stop. 

My chest rose faster and faster, and I tried to chill-out, but I couldn’t.

He lowered his voice. “Kiss me again, Dovey.”

Oh. “That’s a terrible idea, Cuba. Cause you’re naked, and I’m turned on because you’re naked. And you’re touching yourself. And you’re naked.” I sucked in a sharp breath. “Not a good combo. Odds are we’ll end up in that shower together or back in your bed doing the double-backed monster.”

“Then join me in the shower. I’ll be good. For you.” He arched his back, his hands still doing that back and forth that was driving me insane.

Liar, liar, pants on fire, I thought. No way he would he be good. 

Because he was the Heartbreaker of Briarcrest Academy. And one wicked boy.


Author: Ilsa Madden Mills
Series: Briarcrest Academy #1
Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire.  She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school.  She’s perfect…
Leaving behind her million dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex. 
Then she meets her soulmate.  But he doesn’t want her.
When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year old Leo Tate has one rule:  never fall in love.  His gym and his brother are all he cares about…until he meets Nora.  He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.
As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.
Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things. 

Read my 5-star review  here


Ilsa Madden-Mills is a loving wife and mother, a loyal friend, and a teacher. When all that is done, she writes. Obsessively.
She spent several years teaching high school English, but now hangs out at home with two small kids, a neurotic cat, and her Viking husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels.
When she’s not typing away at a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.
She loves to hear from fans and fellow authors.

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