Hate Crush by A. Zavarelli

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— BLURB —

They call him the devil.

When I crash-landed into him on my first day at Loyola Academy, I was sure that couldn’t be true.

He was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in real life.

Little did I know he was also the cruelest.

I went from starstruck to stunned the moment his cynical eyes cut through me.

I can’t tell you what it was that made him want to punish me. But from that day forward the brooding recluse of a man made it his goal to torment me.

I want to loathe him, and some days, I do.

But good or bad, nobody’s attention has ever tasted so sweet.

What do you do when you have a hate crush on your bully?

Worse yet, what do you do when he’s also your teacher?

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— MY REVIEW —

*phewww* There’s a lot to process with this one.

Have you ever gotten that flutter in your stomach when you’re about to step in front of a mass of staring faces to do a speech? You’re anxious-nervous and feel like you need to go to the bathroom and just…release?! (I know. I know. TMI) but seriously.. anyone?

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Because that’s how my tummy decided to act throughout my read of Hate Crush. That uneasy feeling when you’re stomach is in your throat and you’re waiting for that drop. It’s a feeling I always seem to get whenever I read one of A. Zavarelli’s books. In a good way, I promise! It’s become a thing I expect. So when I got a couple chapters in and started to get that tight, on-edge flutter.. first thing that popped into my head was– “Ooh this one’s gonna be good!”

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I can’t say I’ve read a lot of student/ teacher romances but if they’re anything like Stella and Sebastian’s (oops I mean Mr. Carter’s) twisted, rollercoaster of emotions.. then I needs to be reading more of them, pronto!

But I’m deadly serious when I say this is one twisted rollercoaster of a love story. Half the time I felt like I was getting whiplash from the push and pull I was getting from Sebastian.

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My sympathies go out to Stella.

What can I say about Mr. Carter? Hmm. Well. He’s a complicated bastard.

I was confused about his ulterior motive at the beginning. I didn’t understand some of the things he wanted Stella to do (and I certainly couldn’t understand why she was so willing–at least at the beginning to do his bidding when they hardly knew each other), and there were times I just thought he was using Stella for his own benefit without a care in the world. And under normal circumstances I probably would’ve hated the guy and shoot daggers in his direction if I ever saw him.. but this is a work of fiction and for some magical reason (or just a really talented author who knows how to spin words to make us feel the way she wants us to feel, who knows?) I was rooting for him to have his happy ending. 😄

I should know by now (with the amount of villainous, evil, and grey characters I fall for) that with every one of these complicated characters, there’s a story behind their meanness. Sebastian Carter was no different. I found myself wanting to punch him in the face for his smugness and controlling ways – to wanting to punch him in the face for his stupidity when it came to his feelings for Stella.

The dude just needed to make up his mind and stick to it. Sheesh!

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But I couldn’t deny the obvious chemistry going on between those two. It was practically leaping off the pages. I was hooked and invested in their story… despite the drama. And there is lots of DRAMA! I think if they didn’t have their own personal issues going on on top of their secret hookups, this wouldn’t have been as intense of a story as it had been.

I will say that some of the events that occured in Hate Crush was a lot to wrap my head around. I couldn’t fathom half of the things that happened.. and to Stella for that matter!

She’s a teenager–and boy did Ashleigh capture that to a T! Stella is the new kid in school. One who wants to get good grades, but who can also be quite rebellious if she thinks something is unfair *mumbles..* typical teenager.

What I like about Stella is she takes more than a minute to think things through, thinks of consequences to actions, and has a good head on her shoulders despite the environment she’s in and the people she’s had to deal with. She still wants to have fun (and you can’t really blame her for wanting a break from her life).

But in saying that, she’s also an emotional person. And there’s times where she lets her heart rule over her head… which tends to put her in situations that could have been.. I don’t know.. avoidable? I only wish she had more courage and put her foot down in some instances. Not gonna lie–I wanted to shake her at times. Lol. But as far as fictional teenagers go? She’s one I wouldn’t have minded having as a friend in my years growing up. She’s caring and loyal to a fault.

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By halfway through Hate Crush I was a range of emotions myself. And there’s no doubt anyone who reads it will be too. I felt frustrated, annoyed, and sometimes at a loss for words. Then there were times I felt like I was getting heartburn and needing a lie down. Haha. Like I said… a rollercoaster!

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Theirs was in no way a perfect love story but my gosh it was something! There was undeniable sparks.. and surprisingly by the end I found myself forgetting there was even an age gap between them–or that they were initially student and teacher.

Ashleigh does an excellent job of setting the atmosphere right from the get-go. From the circumstances surrounding Stella, to her family dynamics and the lack of proper parentals. And then you get the first impressions of Sebastian. His hard, no-nonsense aura and hidden agenda (which immediately piqued my interest).

Side characters like Stella’s bestie, the jerky “cool” guy and the popular bitchy girls in it for her are great additions to set the high school drama scene.

The further you get along in the book, the more you can’t put it down because there’s just so many things happening that you need to know how it’s all going to end. It flowed at a relatively easy-going pace. You won’t be skimming through the pages with this one. 😉

If you’re not a fan of dark romances, or can’t deal with taboo subjects–then it’s probably best that you give this one a miss. But if you like a bit of edge in your love stories, journeys with bumps, sharp turns and forks in the road, then you can’t pass this one up. I loved it! I thought it was an exceptional standalone set in a high school backdrop. It was like Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girls meets A. Zavarelli! It pulls at the heartstrings.

FYI: This may be set in high school but it’s no way a book for young readers. At least one for the underage. It contains explicit sexual scenes, and the mention of drugs. 18+ readers only!

RATING: ♥♥♥♥½

Thank you A. Zavarelli for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💗

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RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 21ST

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Happy reading, guys and wishing you all a fab week ahead! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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