The Crush by Penelope Ward Review


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From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone, second-chance story of forbidden love…

It’s natural to want the one you can’t have. And for as long as I could remember, I’d secretly wanted my brother’s best friend, Jace.

He was six years older and always treated me like the sister he never had.

Fast forward a decade.

We were all in our twenties now. Jace had moved in with my brother, Nathan, and me to help us make ends meet after our parents died.

It was just the three of us—an odd family dynamic.

Living under our roof, Jace was as bossy and protective as ever.

But he certainly didn’t look at me like a sister anymore. That was what made things so complicated.

I was pretty much hot and bothered twenty-four-seven.

And he was torn.

The signs were subtle, at first. Like on movie night, I’d casually rest my leg against his, and he wouldn’t exactly shift away.

Still, I assumed he would never…go there.

Nathan would kill us.

The knowledge of that wasn’t enough to stop the inevitable, though.

Eventually our slow burn exploded.

But more than the physical attraction, we’d developed a strong connection.

We just couldn’t get caught, right?

That sounded simple.

Until it wasn’t.

This is a story of forbidden love, broken trust, and an unexpected second chance.

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I’m a huge fan of Penelope Ward’s, especially her co-written novels with Vi Keeland. So it’s a given that if she writes it, I’m going to read it. Her solo novels tend to be a bit more angsty and her characters are often on the younger side. The Crush was the realization years later of a young girl’s unrequited infatuation with her older brother’s best friend, and boy did this story do a number on my heart! Ward succinctly captured all those irrationally hopeless feelings of longing of a young girl’s first crush, and she gave them new life later on down the line as an adult with possibilities.

Jace and Farrah’s story is a difficult one. First there is the fact that he’s her brother’s best friend and several years older. It doesn’t help matters that he has only really seen her as a younger sister. But there is also some devastating, gut-wrenching traumatic history. Ward takes readers back in time, to their childhood and to the time around the event that changed all their lives. Those visits to the past were essential in helping the reader understand who these characters were now, and I loved that Penelope took her readers there. Those heart-breaking glimpses at the past were critical to the development of these characters and made for a story that I was wholly invested in.

A very slow burn romance, Jace and Farrah’s relationship begins as a friendship that painstakingly morphs over time. As if the tragedy of their past weren’t enough to overcome, they still had to navigate Nathan, Farrah’s older brother and Jace’s best friend, and his reactions. But their connection deepens and their attraction grows into something neither can deny or disregard.  

The Crush was an emotional, angsty, slow-burning journey to happily ever after. Ward delivered a soul searing, heart-crushing, steamy and passionate friends-to-lovers, forbidden romance in this story. My heart broke over and over for these characters as I devoured their completely addictive love story. The Crush by Penelope Ward gets four smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo




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