Changed by Heather Dahlgren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book has been sitting in my Kindle for a while. After some discussion amongst friends about awful reviews (not of this book) I committed to reading it. I was NOT gifted this book, it's obviously long after its release and I, as always, didn't read any reviews or blurbs prior to reading this book. So on with my review...
From the start of the book, I fell in love with the characters. I loved the friendships amongst both groups, the men and the women. Kennedy has evolved from the girl who was bullied in High School to a confident young woman in college. She has re-invented herself both physically and mentally, or so you believe. Maddie is the outgoing blonde bombshell and Becca is the shy one. The compliment each other in their happy threesome as roommates.
The guys, Campbell, Dick and Young, are roommates as well, and have been college buddies. Their bonds are strong and I loved the playful banter between the characters. I enjoyed the sarcasm and humor throughout the book. You can almost hear the smacks upside the back of Young's head as you read for his smart ass mouth.
After Dick returns from an extended home visit, the guys go out to celebrate his return and cross paths with these women. Flirting is all fair game and attractions run high, until Kennedy aka Kenz, recognizes Campbell as none other than one of the HS bullies that used to torture her. Campbell doesn't recognize her, or put two and two together and Kenz is off and running for the hills. Like Cinderella that heard the clock strike 12, she takes off without explanation, leaving Campbell aching for more, unaware of her true identity.
The guys discover they are too cramped in their small apartment now that DIck is back, so they go out in search of a new bigger apartment for the three to share. As chance would have it, the suitable apartment the find is in the same building as the girls. The girls, while having a 'girls night playing' "Truth or Dare", dare Kenz to go introduce herself to the new neighbors. Who answers the door? Campbell, who she has been running from like the plague.
Their worlds collide and now Kenz is forced to deal with her pain, her past and make a decision as to how to handle things with Campbell. They are mutually attracted to each other, but she cannot get past him being "that guy" that bullied her cruelly in school. After pleading with Kenz, she agrees to go out with Campbell and give him a chance, still not revealing her identity. And their romance begins...
When will Kenz come clean? Will she come to grips with her past? Is Campbell really that dense? Will Young stop being a jerk pig (although I find him hilarious) Will Maddie finally stop playing the field and admit she wants to find "the one" too?
My biggest issues with this book two things: how quickly Kenz goes from mad, sad, hurt etc from her past to totally in love with Campbell. On the other hand, is Campbell really that dense? They are going out for a year and he doesn't add it up? They had to have talked about families or bare minimum known her last and full name? They don't meet each other's families right away, but this guy just seems really overly romantic. I keep waiting for him to be a douche and his HS antics to pop up. When the crap hits the proverbial fan and the truth comes to light, the reactions by Campbell are not what I expected. He gets his wakeup call but the zero to sixty and back to normal speed chase of emotions is unsettling.
However, I love the character development and interactions between the two groups. They all have their own distinct roles and personalities and each is spotlighted throughout the book. It works very very well. The sex scenes are hot and steamy and Campbell is really romantic. The flashback scenes are great as they add to their stories without being distracting or taking up a lot of time. Young is probably my favorite character, probably because he is a big smart ass sarcastic jerk, but I like big smart ass sarcastic jerks. I have to admit, as I was reading I could totally relate to the friends in the group, in that the PDA and super gooey romantic Campbell and Kenz is recognized and addressed, so that made me happy because that would be me telling them to get a room!! The story is very relatable and is a great New Adult read.
So, I would definitely recommend this book and the author to others. If you like great characters and a sweet endearing storyline, this is the book for you. This is the debut book by Heather Dahlgren and I am intrigued to read her following works to see how both she and her characters evolve.
HEA, New Adult, Bullying, Strong Female Leads
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