Monday, March 31, 2014

ARC Review: The Day He Kissed Her

The Day He Kissed Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #3)

by Juliana Stone 


He can’t wait to leave…
Mac Draper finally has everything he’s always wanted: An amazing career. A New York City apartment. He’s this close to being free of his past forever. But a mind-blowing encounter with the sexy yet tough-as-nails Lily St. Clare has him delaying his plans to put Crystal Lake in his rearview mirror for good.
She’s finally found a place to stay…
For Lily St. Clare the charming small town of Crystal Lake is her haven – a place she can hide from her famous, back-stabbing family. It’s as close to happy as she’s ever been. Until an unforgettable night with tall, dark and tortured Mac Draper gives her a glimpse of what true happiness feels like.
Lily can’t help but melt a little under the sizzling heat of Mac’s touch. But Mac’s scars run deep, and Lily’s afraid she may be falling for the one man who can never return her feelings...
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Wow what an emotion packed ending to a pretty great trilogy. Two of the three Bad Boys have met their matches and settled down in love, but the holdout, Mac, never imagined he would be able to, much less actually want to, give in to love and family.  I loved the previous two stories in this series, and enjoyed this story quite a bit too.  If you have read the others, you will recognize that there are some heavy emotions going on for both the H/H and their families.  While I enjoy a lighthearted romance as much as the next girl, this series is more like reality and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much.  Picking up right where we left off in the last book, the finale to the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake takes you on a  journey through the courtship of two deeply wounded and distrustful individuals, both fighting their feelings for one another, but each one changing for the better before all is said and done.  Though I am sad to see the series end, it was worth it to get to see Lily and Mac get their HEA.
Lily has been avoiding any situation that might bring her into contact with Bad Boy, Mac Draper, the man she turned to months ago in a need for human connection, one that she never planned to see again.  But sometimes fate has other ideas and she is no longer able to hide from him.  Confronted with the seductive Mac, Lily puts every obstacle she can think of in his path, but that just seems to tempt him more and when he decides to stay for the summer to stage a full scale campaign to get her back into his arms, Lily is no longer able to resist the pull between them.  Mac has never felt such a pull to a woman and the intrigue and desire to be with her is too much to deny.  Though he has no intention of ever settling down, being with Lily brings too much joy to his life to keep away from her.  But the past and his own fears cause grief that seems impossible to overcome. In the end only true forgiveness and the connection of two people deeply in love and determined to make changes in their lives, can allow them to get past the pain they have caused each other and find a chance to be happy together. 
Lily is an odd duck to me.  She comes from a family of people that are famous just for being famous, and not in any way that would be considered honorable.  She didn’t handle the death of her beloved brother well at all, but finally settling in Crystal Lake and cutting herself off from the negativity of her family is her shot at having a normal life.  She certainly has her fair share of insecurities and fears about having a  relationship with Mac, but when he becomes too persistent to resist, she focuses on enjoying their time together, never realizing she is falling deeper and deeper for him,  until it is too late.  The love she feels for him leads her to make some decisions that leave her hurting, digging to find her inner core of steel and determined to not let him break her heart.  But once again fate is not fair to her and she is left with a broken heart, hurt pride, and the anger of an ultimate rejection.  I found myself crying right along with Lily several times and came to really relate to her as a woman and a great character.
Mac on the other hand is an asshole about 90% of the time.  Though I know he certainly has his reasons, his past and relationship with his family being key, I felt like he wallowed in that too much instead of embracing the man he truly could be standing on his own.  To this point the only healthy relationships he has had are with his youngest sister and his two (once three) best friends.  With a mother that chose her abusive husband over her children, a drunk bastard of a father, and the pain of losing himself in his fears, Mac has a lot to overcome to be a man that is deserving of Lily.  I wanted so many times to reach into the book and slap him for being a selfish dick, but thankfully he gets his shit together in the end and is able to step up and be the man that he was always meant to be, a man that needs and deserves the love of his life.  There was a moment in the story that was like that slap in the face to him, finally waking him up from the nightmare of his past and allowing him a chance to see the possibilities of a future with the woman he loves.
I  was a bit surprised at times by the direction the story was taking, but eventually I found  myself so hooked that I couldn’t put it down and had to find out what was coming next.  The challenges thrown at Mac and Lily both internal and external were numerous, and I honestly thought Mac would never wake up and find the courage to reach for the future he wanted.  Lily was a woman I can see myself liking and I admired her ability to put her own needs aside to try to help Mac at every turn, but when it came down to it she stood up for herself and demanded all of his heart or nothing.  Mac finally comes to see that he is worth the love Lily is offering him, that he is nothing like his father and never will be, and that settling down with a woman that he loves and respects will never lead to anything like his parents’ relationship.  I was thrilled to see them finally overcome their frailties and come together in love with a promise of a chance at a life together.  I wish there had been a better ending for Mac and his mother, but in the end he couldn’t change her and finally accepting that gave him a measure of peace at least.  Getting to see the changing lives of the other two Bad Boys was awesome and I hope to one day see them again. In the meantime, this trilogy was a deep, sometimes dark, realistic and wonderful series about the loses that can lead to changes in a life and the ability of love to build bridges, close gaps, and overcome even the most difficult of pasts.  If you haven’t read the other books in this series, you will not be lost, but you are certainly missing out because the entire series is great and Mac and Lily’s story rounds everything out and ends the series with a bang.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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