Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ILSA MADDEN MILLS with reviews and giveaway

Briarcrest Academy Series
Very Bad Things (BA #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.

My 5 Star Review:
Angst filled stars for this author's debut novel. I fell in love with the cover and when i read the blurb i knew it was a book i had to read. When Ilsa offered me an ARC in exchange for an honest review i was over-the-moon excited! The title alone had me intrigued.

The first chapter in the book had me captivated and i knew immediately that i would love Nora. Nora comes from a very prestigious Texas family, born into a life of luxury, where appearances mean everything, especially to that evil mother of hers. Nora has always presented herself as being perfect on the outside, while on the inside she broken. She is a genius with a thing for words, a pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and is headed off to Princeton. You quickly realize that appearances aren't always what they seem though. 

Enter Leo Tate....I didn't know if i wanted to love him or hate him at first. Leo's parents were killed outside of their home when he was just 18, leaving him to raise his younger brother Sebastian (who I also fell in love with) and follow his father's dream of opening a gym. He is the ultimate alpha male bad boy forced into a life he wasn't ready for or expecting. Leo is a playboy, spending his nights with different girls all in an effort to avoid getting hurt again. I wasn't 10% into the book when i realize that i was going to love him!

When these two finally meet, the sexual tension is INSANE!!!! "As if she sensed me, her eyes opened, and when her green ones found mine, I swear, it felt like someone hit the pause button on the universe, and she was all I could see.” He denies himself what his heart wants because he doesn't want to go through the pain and heartache of losing a loved one again. "If love is the answer, then i'm changing the question." There is so much angst between the two of them that you just want to scream "get together already". 

The character development in this store was phenomenal. I admired Nora's strength when dealing with her family and her past. I loved that this book was different in that the female lead was the aggressor. The more Leo tried to walk away, the harder Nora fought for him. The secondary characters in the story were great as well. Sebastian, Leo's brother, was my favorite. I loved the banter between the two brothers, and even watching as Sebastian took on the brotherly role as Nora's protector.

So the questions remain....Will Leo come to terms with the feelings he experiences for Nora and let her in, or will the walls around his heart stay firmly in place? Will he believe in soul mates like Nora does? Will Nora be able to spread her wings and fly or will she let the very bad things control her future?

This is a book that you don't want to miss. I can assure you that i will be harassing the author for more of these characters! 

Very Wicked Beginnings (1.5 novella)
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 

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.

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

My 5 Star Review:
Very Wicked Beginnings is the prequel novella to Very Wicked Things. It tells the story of how Cuba and Dovey first met and gives you a glimpse into their life and relationship as it begins. And man do I love them!

Cuba Hudson

Cuba Hudson is Briarcrest Academy's idol. He's their star football player, he's gorgeous, built, and has more money than he knows what to do with, and he's also a player. He is nicknamed Hollywood because everyone thinks his life is so golden, but that is just the mask he uses to cover the world of pain and guilt he lives with everyday. 

Dovey Beckham 

Dovey attends Briarcrest Academy on a scholarship. She lives and breathes ballet. She grew up in the projects with an absentee father and a prostitute for a mother, sometimes going days without food and heat. She doesn't have everything handed to her on a silver platter like most of the students at BA. She has worked hard to earn her position there.

One day during football practice Cuba looked up and saw a beautiful ballerina in the window of the dance studio. 

"And like i was addicted to her, my eyes drifted to the building again, one part baffled by the fascination, the other part wanting to get a glimpse of her long legs." 

He knew he wanted her but he didn't think he deserved her. But that didn't stop him from making his move. 

"The bottom line was she wasn’t like any of the girls here, and my heart told me to stay away. I only wanted to f*ck, not get close to someone. And never in a million years did I want to fall in love with anyone, and I sensed- based on my ridiculous dreams- she might make me fall." 

Dovey was unsure of Cuba and couldn't understand his intentions with her. She tried and tried to keep him at bay. 

"We aren’t compatible. We come form two different places. You’re rich; I’m not. You like to party; I don’t. You like high heels; I don’t wear them. Good grief, your friends call you Hollywood. Then there’s me. I work my *ss off to get everything I have. So yeah, not feasible." 

I fell in love with Dovey and Cuba in this novella and couldn't wait to dig into Very Wicked Things. Ilsa is an incredible author, who grabs your attention from page one and not release you until the book is finished. I loved the dual POV and being able to get inside the heads of both Cuba and Dovey, which gave us some insight to why they do the things they do. This novella was very well written and kept me engaged from start to finish. 5 Wicked Stars

                     Buy Now (FREE)
                       AMAZON / AMAZON UK / B&N 
Very Wicked Things (BA #2)
Born on the poor side of town...

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.

Born into wealth and privilege...

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. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go... forever.

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

My 5 Star Review:
Ok, I am a HUGE fan of Ilsa Madden Mills. As soon as I finished her debut novel Very Bad Things I was harassing her about what was coming next. VBT was one of my top 5 reads of 2013 and i wasn't sure how she was going to top it, but she DID! Very Wicked Things exceeded my expectations. It was so different from VBT, yet I fell in love with her writing even more. Ilsa covered a very difficult topic in this story with great care. Very Wicked Things is a beautifully written, emotional, and powerful story of finding light in the darkness and always keeping hope. 

Cuba Hudson: heartbreaker, football star, sexy, rich, and a liar. Cuba Hudson is viewed as an icon at Briarcrest Academy. He's got the looks, the wealth, and the social status that makes every girl want him. He puts a smile on his face everyday, but does what the world see match what he feels inside? 

"Money hides a world of pain"

Cuba has been through enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. My heart hurt for him. He blames himself for some tragedies that struck his family and he cant let go of that blame, for fear that he will do it again. But then he meets Dovey, and she was his light. 

"If i can have her, there'd be no reason to fear the dark"

Dovey is a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Born into a life of poverty, she has a father that is MIA and a mother who prostitutes herself, leaving Dovey alone without food or heat for days at a time. In her cold lonely apartment complex, she meets Sarah, the ballet teacher. They develop a close relationship and Dovey quickly becomes focused on ballet knowing that it would be her ticket out of Ratcliffe. She ends up at Briarcrest Academy on a scholarship, where she meets Cuba Hudson. Cuba and Dovey really hit it off, despite their different social statuses. Dovey was hesitant because she needed to focus on ballet and Sarah, who became ill with Alzheimer's, but Cuba had other plans for them and just wouldn't give up in his pursuit. The two fall hard for each other..

But when i see Cuba, if there's such a thing as a soulmate...he's mine. It hurts to breathe without him.

Dovey's life quickly spirals out of control with some shocking twists that will leave your mind spinning. She needs to do what she needs to do to keep her friends and family safe, and she will stop at nothing until it's done. All the while Cuba pushes her away for fear of hurting her. 

I wasnt sure if we would get a HEA because Dovey and Cuba had both been through so much. Their story was heartbreaking to read. This book was darker than VBT but extremely well written. I cried for both Cuba and Dovey, several times. The characters were well developed, making me feel as if I was right there with them, experiences their struggles. The story was paced perfectly, with some curveballs thrown in that will leave you shocked. And of course, book three was set up brilliantly! I really hope it's about Sebastian! 

I highly recommend this book. I gave it 5 stars and I am anxious to find out more about book 3. And for my fellow VBT lovers, have no fear...Nora and Leo make a few cameo appearances in Very Wicked Things! Well done, Ilsa!!!


                Ilsa Madden Mills
Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.
She spends her days 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 crafting 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 from fans and fellow authors.
Sign up for her newsletter (sent out less than five times a year) to receive info about sales, new releases, and of course those FREE bonus scenes and stories!




  1. i havent had the chance to read any yet, but i want to!!! Thank you for the chance <3

  2. Replies
    1. I haven't read any of her books yet, but I did download one yesterday. It's a few books away from the top of my TBR list :-)

  3. I LOVED Very Bad Things & Very Wicked Beginnings!! I cannot wait to read Very Wicked Beginnings!

  4. I haven't read any of these books, yet. They are on my TBR list though.