Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

(Fall Away #2)
by Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: Aug. 26, 2014
Genre: Mature Young Adult Romance

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….



My thoughts…

Rival sort of has the same feel as Bully in the sense that it’s two people who hate each other, try to hurt each other, but secretly love each other. However, the twist that Rival has is the fact that this love-hate relationship is between step-siblings. So, if that’s a hard limit for you then you may want to move on to something else.

Just like with Bully, I disliked Madoc. I mean, I already wasn’t his biggest fan in the previous books because he was a big of a sleezeball who just joked everything away. I was really hoping that Rival would give me a better understanding of him and it definitely did. I’m not excusing his questionable behavior though, he is a total creeper and should’ve been brought up on sexual harassment charges a long time ago. However, his affair with Fallon really messed him up and put him in a downward spiral. He just sort of stopped caring. It isn’t until he’s reunited with Fallon that you start to see life come back to him.

Fallon…. that girl I felt bad for. I mean, she has a really crappy, gold-digging mother who just jumps from husband to husband. She lands in this mansion, falls in love with her step-brother, and then is ripped out of her home in the middle of the night and shipped off to boarding school. She sneaks back home to find the guy she thought loved her, hooking up with someone else, and all at once her world crumbles. She’s left to fend for herself at a boarding school for her last two years of education with no contact from back home. Hearing about what she went through was really sad. So, it’s no surprise that she not only wants nothing to do with Madoc but she also wants to get her revenge.

I will say that Rival was a lot easier to swallow than Bully and Until You and that’s mainly because I found Madoc to be redeemable. He didn’t terrorize Fallon, he didn’t belittle her and make her life a living hell, he didn’t even have contact with her until she showed up out of the blue. While the majority of their romance is a push and pull of sorts, I didn’t find any one characters to be outright horrible. One thing is for certain though, there is a lot more sex in this one. A lot more. These two were doing one of two things, fighting or making up. That was about it. While we are talking about fighting and making up, we see Jared and Tate a lot in this book… and that’s pretty much all they did in the background.

I’m glad I got Madoc’s story in Rival. He wasn’t necessarily my favorite character, but he was redeemable and I found his relationship woes to be a hot mess. The kind of hot mess that you can’t help but rubberneck to watch. Maybe it’s the whole taboo between step-siblings, maybe it’s because of all they went through to get to where they are in this book, maybe it had to do with the fact that even through they’d already been through so much and yet they still have Mt. Everest to climb, I don’t know. All I know is that I couldn’t put the book down. I needed to know what would come of it all… and let me tell you, I did not see THAT coming at all. 😉



Favorite quote…

“That’s something everyone needs to learn on their own. Life goes on, smiles will come again, and time heals some wounds and soothes the ones it can’t.”


Previous reviews from Fall Away

Until You


3 Thoughts on “Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

  1. I’m all for anti-heroes given that they are redeemable. Not all of their action may not be justified, but it’s that glimmer of good/hope that I root for and hope will prevail in the end.

    Happy weekend!

  2. OMG! Just by reading the sypnosis, I can’t help but get excited to read it too. Great review Kristin. And btw, I’m loving the cover too 🙂

  3. It’s nice when they do have some redeemable qualities and you get a better understanding of them. I have one of hers on my blogger shame pile, I believe. One day soon hopefully 😀

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