Top positive review
Loving The Wrong Guy Who is Actually the Right Guy
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 28, 2018
Something you should know about me. I have read EVERYTHING that Ilsa Madden-Mills has written to date. She tends to write contemporary romance with a little dirty in it. Her writing superpower is creating characters and relationships that seem to exist in the “real world.” When I read her books, there is a part of me that believes I could be friends with the characters she creates. They are visceral in the way she creates them.
Now, after an Amazon struggle the past couple of days, her readers are finally able to get our hands on I Bet You, the next book in a series of football romance stories set in Magnolia, Mississippi at a fictional university, Waylon University. The first book, I Dare You, released earlier in the year. I Bet You tells the story of Ryker, the star quarterback of the Waylon U football team, and Penelope, a fellow student. Penelope and Ryker are seemingly two very different people. Ryker is the sexy, attractive BMOC, wildly popular among the students, while Penelope is a beautiful nerdy romance-loving writer. Even through Penelope is attracted to Ryker, given her past, Penelope has made the rule: no football players. However, a quick bet, a plan to help Penelope attract Connor, and a lot of time spent together, leads them to the impossible.
One of the strengths of Madden-Mills’s romances is her characters. As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, her characters could be real people, people that you and I would consider personal friends. In this book, Ryker and Penelope are everything. In I Dare You, Ryker is Maverick’s player roommate. There isn’t a woman that Ryker doesn’t like. However, even with that flaw, he is loyal. As Maverick makes some unwise decisions, Ryker continues to support him, even to his own detriment. In I Bet You, Ryker continues his loyalty, this time to Penelope. We realize early on that the two are seriously attracted to each other. This attraction to Penelope leads him to show his loyalty by helping her connect with Connor, the boy she believes is a better match. Ryker readily forgoes his attraction to her to maintain his loyalty to their burgeoning friendship.
As of late, authors such as Kandi Steiner with The Wrong Game and Meghan March with The Sin Trilogy have created the penultimate book boyfriends. They are sensitive, caring, willing to sacrifice their reputations for the heroines, sexy, and handsome. Whether you read Zach or Lincoln and now, Ryker, you cannot help but wish there were more men like them in the real world. Like Steiner’s Zach and March’s Lincoln, Ryker’s sensitivity to the Penelope makes him irresistible to the reader. This trend leads the reader feel strongly for the actions of the hero. You cannot help but root for Ryker because his clearly knows that Penelope is “it” for him: “I feel like I’m in a dream. And here’s the thing—I’ve had some kickass moments in my life, the time I won a state championship, the day I got my scholarship from Waylon, but nothing… nothing beats having her.”
Now, Penelope embodies the woman who knows herself, and she does not care about other’s thoughts about her. She tells us early on that she forgives easily. She loves her historical romance, Twilight, vampires, and statement tees. She doesn’t feel the need to meet some societal expectations. Instead, she is simply who she is, and it is perfect for Ryker. She brings out the best in him, and she knows him better than other woman could ever know him: “The Ryker of my heart would never participate in a bet that involved me. And I didn’t need Margo to tell me that. Or Charisma to explain about how sometimes we say things we don’t mean. I know him. I think maybe I’ve known him for a long time, or my soul has. Since the moment I researched and wrote the article about him, he carved out a place in my brain, and now he owns my heart.” I love these two together.
I have to admit that I did see the conflict coming from afar. When the focus of the book is betting, it is obvious that a bet would cause problems for Ryker and Penelope. And that is the case with this story. What I love about the story, though, is the redemption of Ryker in the end and Penelope’s ability to finally move past her anger and disappointment with her father. This can only occur when she faces the difficulty with Ryker. Characters overcoming their pasts always makes for a strong romantic trope.
Even more, together, Ryker and Penelope are funny and charming and compelling to read. Focusing on their relationship would be enough for the story, but Madden-Mills also gives us more with Penelope’s “daddy” issues and Ryker’s sensitivity to perfectionism. These are common issues and readers can relate to them.
Sexiness Quotient: 💙💙💙💙
Madden-Mills always gives us enough sex in her books. We get enough to underscore the characters’ relationship. It adds another dimension to their love, but the sex does not overpower the relationship. The way in which they connect on a spiritual or emotional level is the most important, and sex simply adds a bit more to those levels. This is truly the case in I Bet You. Ryker and Penelope seriously want each other, and their bodies show this, but Madden-Mills does not give us all the raunchy details. She gives us enough physical to enhance the emotional and spiritual.
Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 Stars)
I will always read anything from Ilsa Madden-Mills. I find myself in her stories. They are real and relational and readable. I Bet You took a bit to get to Amazon, but it is definitely worth the wait. Ryker and Penelope will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you love a little bit deeper.