Thursday, February 6, 2020

Blog Tour: Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Dear Ava

By: Ilsa Madden-Mills

Release Date:
Feb. 3, 2020

Add to:

eARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for a honest review 

Book Summary:

"Dear Ava is heartwarming and angsty and don't get me started on Knox. Read this book! You will love Ava's fight and Knox's alpha." --Tijan, New York Times bestselling author

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a gripping enemies-to-lovers, secret admirer, high school romance with Dear Ava, available now! 

The rich and popular Sharks rule at prestigious, ivy-covered Camden Prep. Once upon a time, I wanted to be part of their world—until they destroyed me. 

The last thing I expected was an anonymous love letter from one of them. 

Please. I hate those rich jerks for what they did to me. The question is, which Shark is my secret admirer? Knox, the scarred quarterback, Dane, his twin brother, or Chance, the guy who dumped me . . . 

Dear Ava, 

Your eyes are the color of the Caribbean Sea. Sh*t. That’s stupid. What I really mean is, you look at me and I feel something REAL. 

It’s been ten months since you were here, but I can’t forget you. 

I’ve missed seeing you walk down the hall. 
I’ve missed you cheering at my football games. I’ve missed the smell of your hair. 

And then everything fell apart that night. 

Don’t hate me because I’m a Shark. I just want to make you mine. Still. 

Not part of any other series. Dark high school romance. Recommended for 18+. 

An excerpt of Dear Ava appeared in the anthology: Team Player 2 in 2019. (No longer available.) 

This full-length version is 100,000 words. 


My Thoughts:

Dear Ava was a story that ended up being so much more than the premise alluded to. I absolutely loved this story. It was beautiful. The main characters felt so real to me. There were so many layers to who they were, as well as their back stories. Even though this story takes place in high school, it is not a light and fluffy romance. It deals with traumatic and relevant social topics, such as sexual assault, victim shaming, mental health, drugs, and poverty. 

At Camden Prep, the wealthiest of the wealthy rule the school, and are untouchable.They are referred to as the Sharks, and they are a tight-knit, elite, fraternity. The Sharks are children of the most high-end attorneys, real estate moguls, government officials, etc., and have all that money, power, and privilege could possibly provide. This makes many of them have a sense of entitlement, and treat anyone with less as if they are not worthy of respect. 

Ava is an orphan. She was abandoned along with her half-brother, Tyler, by her drug and alcohol addicted mother. Ava attends Camden Prep on a scholarship, and has dreams of attending college at Vanderbuilt, and becoming a doctor. She works hard at a little greasy spoon diner, and spends every free moment studying or with Tyler. 

Last year Ava dated Chance, who was a part of the Sharks, and she thought he loved her. However, he let her down when she needed him the most. She left school, and now she is back with her head held high. She starts receiving anonymous love letters in her locker at school, and wants to know who her secret admirer is. 

Chance is apologetic and never stopping loving Ava. Knox and Ava had an undeniable connection last year, and it only continues to grow. Ava hates the Sharks and doesn't trust them, but could a certain Shark be so much more than he appears... 

I don't want to give spoilers, that could lead to giving away who the secret admirer is. However, once you begin the story, it will be abundantly clear. I loved Ava. Her strength, courage, resilience, and work ethic had me rooting for her. The way she loved her little brother, and took care of him, made my heart feel for her predicament and all that she had been through. I wanted her to heal and get the justice that she deserved. I hated the way her peers treated her, and it made me so angry to see her harassed on a daily basis. 

I fell in love with the male lead. He had a traumatic past and my heart broke for everything that he had been through with his family, and was still going through. He was honorable and protective of Ava. He was strong, caring, compassionate, and patient. Unfortunately, his traumatic past had him erecting so many walls, that it was difficult for anyone to get in. However, anyone could see that he only had eyes for Ava, and he loved her. If you enjoy a good slow-burn romance, with enemies, turned friends, turned lovers, you need to read, Dear Ava! 

This story made me feel so many emotions. I cried, smiled, and boy did I swoon! Dear Ava had the most beautiful ending, and this is a gorgeous love story that I will never forget!

Book Excerpt:

“What do you want?” Knox says with as sneer as I ease in the football locker room. Cold eyes flick over my cheer skirt then move up and land on the hollow of my throat. It’s not cool enough at night for our sweater uniform so tonight my top is the red and white V-cut vest with CP embroidered on my chest. 

“Where’s Chance?” 

He whips off his sweat-covered jersey along with the pads underneath. “I don’t keep tabs on my best friend for you. Get out—before I scare you.”  
He’s scaring me already. 

But I can’t stop looking at him. 

His shoulders are broad and wide, his chest lightly dusted with sparse golden hair, tan from the sun, rippling with powerful muscles, leading down to a tapered and trim waist. He has a visible six-pack, and my gaze lingers briefly on a small tattoo on his hip, but I can’t tell what it is. He isn’t brawny or beefy-looking like one might expect from a guy blessed with his athletic prowess, but sculpted and molded and— 

Dropping my gaze, I stare at the floor. I shouldn’t be ogling him. Chance is my maybe-boyfriend. 

I hear male laughter from one of the rooms that branch off from the locker room, maybe the showers, and I deflate, guessing that’s where Chance is. 

Glancing up, I intend to ask him to tell Chance I came by to congratulate him on his two touchdowns, but my voice is frozen. Knox has unlaced his grass-stained pants and is shucking them off. His legs are heavily muscled and taut, unlike the leaner build of Chance. His underwear are white and tight, cupping his hard ass, the outline of his crotch— 

“Like what you see, charity case? You can look, but you can’t touch.” 

Anger soars, replacing my embarrassment. I know I'm just the scholarship girl at Camden, but why does he have to constantly remind me? 

“Don't worry about me touching anything. I don’t like ugly.” The words tumble out before I can stop them. I meant his superior attitude, not his face, but I see the moment when he freezes and takes it the wrong way. 

He touches his face, tracing his scar while his jaw pops. “Get the hell out. Only players allowed in here.” 

I pivot and go for the door, forcing myself not to run. “Asshole,” I mutter. 

His laughter follows me.

Purchase At:
Download your copy today or read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

About the Author:

Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies. 

Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4. 

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero. 

She's addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online. 

Connect with Ilsa 

Join her Unicorn Girls Group on FB, the best way to keep up: 

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  1. I love it when a book speaks to me like this Lindy, great review!

  2. I don't think I knew about this author

    1. She's a really popular N.A. romance author Melliane! I've enjoyed her books :)

  3. Whoa, yeah, that does sound like the sort of tension I could get into in a high school prep situation. I like when the characters hang tough through hard situations and there is tenderness underneath it all.

    1. Yes, the tenderness underneath it all melted my heart :)

  4. This looks so good and I never would have guessed it was a YA plus, (NA?) type read. It looks more adult from the cover but I'm definitely intrigued!

    1. Yes, it was classified as N.A., even though the characters are in high school. I'm guessing due to the mature content.

  5. I love the sound of this book. The cover does not scream young adult, though. :)

    1. It was excellent! Yeah, the kids were seniors in high school.

  6. You had me at love letters, prep school, and second chance romance. I have to agree with Nadene, I didn't realize this was sort of YA/NA by the cover. I thought it was adult romance.

    1. I really hope you get to read it Sam! I really loved it!

  7. I've never tried this author but I love the sound of this story! I have KU so I'm going to check it out! Wonderful review, Lindy! :)

    1. Thanks Rachel! I'm so glad you're checking it out :)

  8. This sounds good, though it really is a hate to love premise from that excerpt. I’m glad it wasn’t her ex. I’m really tempted by this one despite it being high school. I love her background. I have a thing for poor girls who take care of their siblings.

    1. It was really good, and I felt for her situation and dedication to her little brother. It definitely melted my heart!

  9. I've read a few things from this author, and I find I read her books compulsively. It's hard to put them down. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    Great review!

  10. This sounds really good, I'm loving the cover! Thanks for sharing your review


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