{Review} The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley


FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Entangled Publishing (via NetGalley).
{Review} The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. HighleyThe Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley
Series: Suttonville Sentinels #1
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush on November 14, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
Pages: 250

Our Rating

4 Stars

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley

Faith Gladwell’s good girl reputation has never been a problem.  She’s liked well enough at school, has a good relationship with her parents, and even managed to snag a popular football player for a boyfriend.  But when he cheats on her and spreads the word that he practically had to because she’s some kind of ice queen, Faith’s ready to shed her good girl image and prove to everyone that she wasn’t the problem.   And Kyle Sawyer, the semi-mysterious bad boy at school, rumored to go through college girls like most people go through underwear, just might be the key to sullying her squeaky clean reputation.

Judging Covers:  Yep, I totally picked this one up because of the cover.  I was in the mood for something young and fun, and this one just jumped out at me.  Is it all that different than other YA romance covers?  Probably not.  But cute, pink, and happy was just what I needed, and The Bad Boy Bargain popped up on my ARC radar at just the right time.

The Verdict:  I went into The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley expecting a certain formula, and on the surface, that’s what I got.  Girl and boy strike a deal to pretend they’re dating; cheating ex is made to look like a fool; boy and girl end up falling for each other.   But Highley very smartly freshened up what could have been just another pretend-boyfriend story by avoiding some of the usual tropes, and that makes The Bad Boy Bargain an unexpectedly fun read.

While Faith may be known as a good girl, she’s really just a somewhat well-behaved, normal teen.  She isn’t always 100% honest with her parents, she goes to parties, and she sometimes does things her parents wouldn’t approve of.  In that way, she’s absolutely relatable and easy to like.  Cameron (her jerk of an ex) is the stereotypical bully/jock that appears in pretty much every teen book and movie.  Then again, that guy is most definitely in every high school in the real world, so I can’t fault Highley for his inclusion.  And then there’s Kyle, who has affected this bad boy image to avoid bullies and generally be left alone.  The hoodie, skateboard, and IDGAF attitude isn’t who he really is — though the tattoo is real.

Unlike many stories that appear to have a similar plot, Faith and Kyle are on pretty even ground.  There’s no blackmail, no dipping into a different social rank, no one getting more out of the deal than the other, and no dramatic transformation for either of them.  They’re actually a little interested in each other from the get-go, and while Faith wants to prove Cameron wrong about her being an ice princess, Kyle just wants a little revenge for all the bullying Cameron subjected him to in middle school.  Obviously these two fall for each other and live happily ever after, right?  But in their really-fun-to-read journey, we also get to view an awesome family of men (Kyle’s) and the really cute dynamic of Faith’s family.  And I can’t forget Faith’s tiny tornado of a bestie, Violet.

The crush, the awkwardness, the bursts of self-confidence… It all reads pretty realistically as far as teenagers go.  The only problem I have with the story as a whole is how things came together at the end compared to the timeline.  Faith and Kyle meet, strike a deal, and end up dating for real all in the span of a couple of weeks.  That’s not hard to believe when it comes to high schoolers.  But Faith, who has always been determined not to sleep with anyone she wasn’t in love with (hence the ice queen label from the ex), falls so hard and fast for Kyle that she’s willing to give it up in that short time span.  Of course, I can believe that a high school girl would do that; I just don’t believe she should.  And since this is a YA novel presumably marketed to girls that age, I’m really not happy with that message.  Is it realistic?  Yes.  Responsible?  Not so much.  Still, kudos to Highley for keeping that scene clean.

In any case, for this way-beyond-high-school reader, The Bad Boy Bargain was a cute, sweet, super fun read that helped me escape reality and visit a much more innocent and hopeful time, if for only the day or two it took me to read it.  I would definitely recommend it to adult readers who want something light and entertaining, as well as more mature young adults who can either take Faith’s decision with a grain of salt or see it for what it is — something that often turns out to be a mistake for someone that young in real life.

The Breakdown
Cover Design
5 star rating
Plot & Pace
4 star rating
5 star rating
Style & Editing
star rating
Story Conclusion
star rating
Overall Rating 3 star rating


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