A stand-alone enemies-to-lovers office romance set within the Rydeville Elite world.
Dropping out of college senior year was never part of my plan. But Dad needs me, and I’d move mountains for the only parent I’ve ever known—even working for the company that fired him.
My boss, Charlie, is determined to make my life a living hell, availing of every opportunity to undermine my confidence, to humiliate and threaten me.
Sleeping with him the night of his wedding might have something to do with his attitude.
Or the fact I’m the spitting image of the woman he really wants.
If our financial situation wasn’t so dire, I’d tell Charlie to stick his job up his delectable butt.
But I’m trapped, and things are only getting worse. Because the more layers I uncover, the more I realize he is nothing l expected and everything I crave.
If there was a manual for all the ways a person could mess up his life, it’d have my name written on it.
I can’t undo the things I’ve done, no matter how badly I want to, and every day is a constant reminder of my epic failure.
It’s as if Demi has been put on this earth to punish me. To inflict more torture and pain. Because every second I’m around her, she makes me feel things I don’t want to feel.
So, I lash out. Doing my best to push her away.
Until I realize she’s everything I never knew I needed, and the fight becomes a new battle—one to win her heart.
Due to mature content and themes, this book is recommended to readers aged eighteen and over. This is a slightly extended version of the version that appeared in the Bully Me anthology containing one extra chapter and two epilogues. It is a 60k-word short novel that ends with a HEA and NO cliffhanger.
Spoiler alert: This is a standalone but this story is a spoiler for things that happen in the first three books so I recommend reading these in order.
I loved Abby and Kai’s story so much and wasn’t sure I was going to read this book. Charlie really pissed me off in Sweet Retribution even though I loved him in the first two so I didn’t really care about his story. After a couple of months of distance and seeing all the rave reviews, I decided to give it a shot and I’m really glad that I read it.
The sweet, loving Charlie we met in Cruel Intentions is still there but he’s drowning in regret and punishing himself far more than anyone else could ever punish him. He’ll always blame himself for his father’s death and his mother has vowed that she’ll never forgive him. She took Lilly and moved to Arizona to stay with her sister so Charlie is completely alone. He’s lost all of his friends and his family’s been destroyed so his life is work. He knows nothing else.
It takes a time to see all of this, however, because the Charlie we see early on here is a complete dick. He’s second in command of his father’s company and biding his time until graduating with his business degree so he can step into the number one role of CEO. He’s extremely attracted to his personal assistant but doesn’t believe her deserves to be happy so he fights it, hard. Unfortunately for Demi, fighting his feelings means Charlie is unbearably cruel, constantly going out of his way to insult and offend her.
Despite everything that happened between them, Abby still loves Charlie like a brother and wants him back in the circle. She’s constantly hounding him to return to the group and make amends with Drew and Kai. Charlie doesn’t want to hear it but Abby’s persistent and after everything she’s been through, she’s not going to let the guy who took a bullet for her fade away to a bitter, miserable life alone, no matter how much he tries to resist.
Demi’s a great character and instantly likeable, unlike Charlie. I was rooting for her instantly. We learn early on that Demi is the woman he slept with on his wedding night and she’s lived in fear ever since of Abby identifying her. She had no idea Charlie was married and loathes him for being a liar and a cheat. Charlie in turn blames Demi for his marriage failing since Abby knew he’d slept with someone else on their wedding night but of course that’s ridiculous and he eventually sees that, probably due to Abby’s intervention.
He finally recognizes that he didn’t love Abby, he became obsessed with her and that’s not the same at all. Charlie comes to terms with the many reasons their marriage failed, not the least of which is that her heart belonged to Kai all along and her marriage to Charlie wasn’t even valid since Abby and Kai’s secret marriage.
Things aren’t all sunshine and roses for poor Demi, because life has handed her a terrible burden, but Charlie’s there to hold her up, proving to be the man we hoped he was all along. Helping her inadvertently leads to a reconciliation with his mother and Charlie’s life begins to improve by leaps and bounds.
My only criticism here is that it’s a very short book and I somehow missed that in the description so I was shocked to see the word epilogue when it appeared. I always want them to be longer, especially when it’s from Siobhan Davis, but the story was well-crafted and there’s not one but two epilogues, which is a nice bonus. They give us insight into Charlie, Demi, Abby, Kai and Jackson ten years in the future, which was fun.
Footnote: there are 7 books in the Rydeville Elite series (so far) but Abby and Kai’s story is a complete series to me. Books 1 and 2 end in cliffhangers so the story flows uninterrupted for three full novels while books 4-7 are stand alones for various characters we’ve met in Abby and Kai’s story (Charlie, Jackson, Sawyer and Drew).
Other reviews in the Rydeville Elite series
- Cruel Intentions – book 1
- Ruse – book 1. 5 bonus content Cruel Intentions prologue from Kai’s POV
- Twisted Betrayal – book 2
- Sweet Retribution – book 3 (finishes Abby + Kai’s story)
- Charlie – book 4
- Jackson – book 5
- Sawyer – book 6
- The Hate I Feel – book 6.5 (short story in the Hot Summer School Nights anthology)
- Drew – book 7 – scheduled for 2022 release