Monday, August 19, 2019

I Hate You by Ilsa Madden-Mills Release Blitz

There’s a fine line between I hate you and I want you.
Once you cross it, there’s no going back.

Blaze Townsend: I hate you.
Charisma Rossi: I hate you more.

She’s been expecting this ever since their latest showdown. She had good reason.

Hottest guy she’s ever seen.
Former fling.
Dumped her in front of all her friends.
At her own party.

So no, she’s not about to forgive and forget just because he sits next to her in class. He thinks all he has to do is turn on those baby blues, and she’ll melt right back into his arms. Please. She’d be crazy to let this cocky player affect her again. (Tell that to her body.)

Charisma Rossi.
Nerd girl with a dash of bad.
The one who got under his skin.
The one he cut loose.

Blaze knows she’s the riskiest prospect at Waylon University, but none of the interchangeable girls he hooks up with have ever made him feel the way she did. There’s absolutely no way he can have the girl and the game.

So why can’t he stop trying to win her back?

Can this wide receiver score the girl or will he make the biggest fumble of his life?

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“Need some help?”

I’m on my tiptoes when the question comes, trying to reach a book on the top shelf in the bookstore at the student center.

My heart does a nosedive off a cliff as that familiar gruff voice washes over me, his accent a smooth drawl that’s reminiscent of hot summer nights and slow kisses—kisses we never had… well, except for that one time freshman year.

I ignore him and try to grab the book.

“You’re too short. Let me,” Blaze says, this time closer, his voice soft.

I ease back on my feet and whip around, internally wishing I’d worn something more I hate you and don’t you wish you still had me, but sadly, I’m not in my kickass shoes and itchy dress. Today it’s flat-soled red Converse, black joggers, and a Yankees sweatshirt. I blow at a piece of hair in my face. Shit.

Of course, he looks magnificent in a tight long-sleeved black shirt that clings to his broad chest and tapered jeans molded to those leg muscles. His face is unshaven, the darkness on his jawline adding a broody look.

Curse him and his hotness.

I stare at him a little too long, until I snap out of it.

“I don’t need help,” My voice is strangled as I move to brush past him—forget the textbooks—but he reaches out and takes my elbow.


His fingers are a hot brand on my skin—it’s the first time we’ve touched in three months—and I pull away. A tremble starts in my legs. How dare he? It was one thing to see him in a social setting and pretend I was fine, but when we’re face to face without people watching… “Don’t put your hands on me. I’m not your hookup anymore, football player.”

His face reddens, and he drops his arms. “I didn’t mean—” he stops, not finishing as he studies my face.

I wonder what he sees. You know what he sees, Charisma—someone who wasn’t up to his usual standards.

Everything I didn’t say last night rushes out. “Didn’t mean to what? Dump me in the middle of my own sorority’s party in front of all my friends and half of campus? And you know, that’s totally fine. We both knew I wasn’t enough to keep your attention.”

His jaw clenches and he frowns, his brow furrowing. “I didn’t plan for things to happen that way.”

“How did you want to break up with me? Over candlelight? A text would have worked just fine,” I bite out.

The silence builds between us, and he watches me intently, as if trying to figure me out. He starts at my hair and works his way down to my feet, then comes back to my face. Just when I think I might combust from the intensity of his eyes, he looks away.

“What?” I cock my hip. “You look like you want to say something.”

He taps his hand against his leg. Ice-blue eyes, ones I used to stare into and get butterflies from, glitter down at me. “You just can’t handle that I ended things, sweetheart.”

“Not your sweetheart.”

“Never were.”

Shit… shit… my heart feels like an anvil just landed on it, heavy and hard, and I can’t breathe for a second at his words, part of me pissed, the other part devastated. I wanted to be his sweetheart, I did, but he…

You’re not my type.

“Thanks for the reminder,” I say quietly, my anger folding away piece by piece and slipping into that horrible self-pity I despise.

He closes his eyes and scrubs his face with those talented hands, strong and big and capable, skillful with a football.

He steps in front of me, much like he did last night, and I tilt my head back to take him in. At my height of five feet, three inches, it’s hard to glare at a guy who towers over you and not look ridiculous, but I manage—until his eyes flicker with lingering emotion.

I dart my eyes around the store, searching for a way out, but I’m stuck between him and a bookshelf. “You’re blocking my path.” I focus on his legs. No sexiness there—well, except for the tight muscles under that denim.

“This is what I know,” he says in a low voice, ignoring my statement. “You told me we were just messing around. You set all the rules. Isn’t that how you operate? So why does me ending things with you even matter?”

“You never asked for more. You could have.” The revealing words fall around us, tinged with hurt, and I want to pull them back.

The silence between us crackles, yet I’m aware of other people around us. There are a few girls on another aisle, and I glance over as one of them pulls out her phone. No doubt she’s taking a picture of him. Part of me retreats, anxious she’ll get me in that photo—a girl who clearly doesn’t belong. He doesn’t notice. Everyone knows who he is, and they’re probably wondering why he’s talking to me.

“No, I didn’t,” he finally says, the words taut as if pulled from him unwillingly. He taps his leg, his tell that he’s anxious or angry. We weren’t together long, but every moment we spent together, I studied him like a wine connoisseur given a glass of rare cabernet. I know what makes him laugh, usually random things that make no sense. I know that groan he makes deep in this throat when he slides inside me, like he’s home. I know the feel of his hand when he cups my face and stares at me, a hesitant expression on his face—

“You can’t even look at me anymore. I wonder why,” he says, his voice a challenge.

Steeling myself, I face those baby blues. “You know why. I wish we’d never met up last fall. I wish you’d never flirted with me. I wish I’d never fucked you that first time in the library—”

“Same page. Same fucking page, Charisma.” And then he’s walking away, broad shoulders swaying as he stalks down the aisle…

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I Hate You is a contemporary, new adult standalone by Ilsa Madden-Mills, featuring a love-hate vibe, second-chance romance, and slow-burn, where lust shifts to friendship, creating a lasting foundation.

Hooked from the get-go, I was in need of a novel that was fast and light and dug its talons into me, and I Hate You delivered.

Charm and Blaze are two sides to the same coin. I wouldn't call them commitment phobic, simply afraid of love and not being loved.

Charm witnessed her charming, charismatic father flash his blinding smile at women, especially her sixth-grade teacher, and her mother never stood up for herself when it came to being cheated on. This affected how Charm viewed men and love.

Blaze was abandoned, not once but twice, by his parents. First, literally abandoned and forgotten, then forever when orphaned. While his aunt and uncle took amazing care of him, he always felt as if they were just waiting for him to grow up and leave the nest, so it could be them and their children as a family. Feeling unloved, he doesn't believe himself loveable outside of adoration from the football field, because he earns that with raw talent and dedication.

Charm and Blaze have history, not once but twice. Blaze is the hottest footballer on campus, fans everywhere he treads, and it sets off those alarms in Charm's head, reminding her too much of her father, and she refuses to be her mother. Blaze hates Charm's rules when it comes to non-dating, because it leaves him feeling less than, abandoned.

The innocent, love-hate, angsty vibe is a crawl with the slow burn, as the reader watches Blaze and Charm do their thing, by getting into their own way. Their only conflict is self-sabotage, which is about as true to life as it comes. Human beings tend to create what they fear most.

Sweet, cute, albeit frustrating, I enjoyed the escapism from my real life Charm and Blaze offered, allowing me to slip into their world for a few hours. I believe this is the first novel I've read by this author, and look forward to reading more in her backlist.

Highly recommend to lovers of contemporary romance and fans of the author.

There is a fine line between love and hate and this story is a good way to show it. Charisma and Blaze hooked up several times and then the breakup happened. No, it wasn't a quiet breakup. It happened at a party and just about everyone was there to see it. And those that weren't there heard about it. So Charisma has been avoiding Blaze at all cost and it has worked for several months. Now that the football team has won the national championship, she is at the celebration. And yep, Blaze and the rest of the players show up at the local bar. And Blaze has two perfect beauties hanging on him. While Charisma isn't the perfect model type, Blaze seems to be drawn to her but he doesn't want to be with her.

While Blaze tries to concentrate on football and getting signed to an NFL team, Charisma wants to get an internship. But neither can move on from the other.

These two have some past issues that they need to talk out and work through before either of them get into a serious relationship. The pain is what keeps them from moving on whether it is together or in separate relationships. Either way, I see something good between them if they would give each other a chance and talk things out. Can they get a happily ever after?

I liked the story and loved that it was another story in my home state of Mississippi. But there were parts of the story that seemed to drag on and other parts were so good. I hope there will be more from this group of friends. If you haven't read Ilsa Madden-Mills yet, just pick one, doesn't matter which one, you will love her writing style and her stories.

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
3.5 stars
M/F hookup/enemies to lovers romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Blaze dumped Charisma at her own party, in front of almost the entire school. Needless to say, she really dislikes him. I think this story would have been had a stronger start for me if we had seen their relationship before. Blaze hints at Charisma's rules, but we, as the reader know nothing of them. So, when he throws them back at her, we are kind of at a loss.

This book had a very young adult feel to it at the beginning. However, as the story went on, it grew up and so did the characters. They took time to talk with each other, to try and figure out what they want out of their own lives and from a relationship.

I enjoyed reading this story and found that the organic way that Blaze and Charisma bumbled through their relationship was what saved the story for me. Otherwise, there was a lot of push and pull between the characters, which I was starting to get annoyed with.

It was funny at times and I loved that Blaze and Charisma just got each other. I'm unsure what Blaze's football rivalry really had to do with anything, and found his football enemy very unlikeable. In fact, I sometimes skipped those parts because I wasn't sure why they were in the story. Overall, this was a successful enemies-to-lovers story.

This is the third in a series – and although it deals with a new couple, we do spend a lot of time with the previous ones, so you might want to read them first to get the stories in order. You will quickly understand how much Blaze upset Charisma when they split... although they were not truly together – or were they?

Charisma has issues which lead her to make a rule about no relationships, and even though she wanted to break them with Blaze, she could not trust herself to do so. Now, however, he is back in pursuing mode, and we get to see just how long it will take for them to resolve the tension between them.

At times this is a pair of fairly adult people making sensitive, sensible comments and decisions – but at other times they seem very immature, and dropped into a younger state of mind. Whether intentional or not, it worked quite well at breaking the seriousness of the moment, and reminding the reader that they were at the very beginning of their lives.

An easy read with a satisfying ending.

This new adult romance is pure adolescent angst. Jock Blaze and nerd Charisma exist at opposite ends of their college social structure but neither of them can move on from an ill-advised affair that left them both wanting more.

Even though Blaze and Charisma are about to graduate from college, this story reads younger. Conflict between groups of jocks, princesses, and nerds makes this feel like it should be set in a high school, not a university. The college experience in this book centres around the Greek societies’ social events – mostly parties, sports events, and drinking. Charisma constantly refers to herself as a nerd but she spends far too much time drinking at frat parties and describing her outfits and hairstyles for readers to really believe her. Blaze and Charisma’s world feels incredibly shallow and so do most of the characters.

I found it easier to like Charisma than Blaze, but Charisma’s self-esteem is awful and her constant self-deprecation is incredibly annoying after a while. I also struggled for most of the book to understand why Charisma and Blaze were so insanely angry with each other. As far as I could make out, they enjoyed a few hook-ups, clearly setting no-strings boundaries beforehand, and then Charisma became crazy angry when Blaze called it off.

Way too much of this story is angst and emotional drama. Both characters spend most of the book brooding, obsessing, and wallowing in misery. They don’t talk.

Honestly, this book made me feel old. But I think I was much older than these two even when I was a student. This is a book for fans of Riverdale, Billie Eilish, and Noah Centineo. As a reader in my forties, I’m sure I’m not the target audience for this book. But the best young adult and new adult writing has a universal appeal that this book lacks.

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

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Unicorn Girls Facebook Fan Group

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of I Hate You by Ilsa Madden-Mills to read and review for this tour.

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